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(425) 557-0752

Beaver Lake Animal Hospital
26325 SE 39th Street
Issaquah, WA 98029
(425)557-0752


Beaver Lake Animal Hospital

26325 SE 39th Street
Issaquah, WA 98029

(425)557-0752

beaverlakeah.com

Tea Tree Oil - Do Not Use On Dogs or Cats

The following article was reproduced with promission from a newsletter published by ACCES.
 

Toxicology Brief Tea Tree Oil:  Elizabeth B Davidow, DVM, DACVECC



               Most of us have witnessed an increased desire among our clients to use "natural" and "herbal" products, rather than "chemicals" or "traditional medicine" in the care of their pets.  Many people know of problems with chemicals or medications but the dangers of natural substances are often overlooked.  A recent case that presented to ACCES illustrates this situation.  A 1.5 yr old MN Boxer presented to the hospital with a sudden onset of severe muscle weakness.  Earlier that day the owners had treated the dog with a "natural" product marketed for flea control (and other conditions), Tea Tree Oil.

 

                Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is derived from the leaves of the Australia tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia).  The oil contains cyclic terpenes, sesquiterpenes, and hydrocarbons.  These compounds are lipophilic and are readily absorbed through the skin and into the subcutaneous fat.  They are taken up by the blood stream and distributed throughout the body.  According to National Animal Poison Control Center, the use of tea tree oil in dogs has been associated with hypothermia, muscle weakness, ataxia, tremors, altered behavior, paralysis.  Cats are also sensitive to the tea tree oil compounds.  A case report has been published in which three cats had clinical signs and one cat died after being treated with the oil. 

 

                Clinical signs usually occur within 2-8 hours from time of exposure.  Most of the signs are reversible.  Depending on the dose it may take 12-72 hours for them to resolve.  Liver enzymes may become elevated but also appear to be reversible. 

 

                Recommendations for treatment of tea tree oil toxicity includes:

1)       Dermal decontamination with a mild shampoo or detergent such as DawnTM.

2)       Activated charcoal with sorbital for oral exposures and if the animal might have groomed and ingested a dermally applied product

3)       IV fluids to increase diuresis and

4)       Heat support as needed.

The boxer who presented to ACCES was bathed, given activated charcoal, placed on IV fluids and recovered full muscle strength within 24 hours.