So you’ve just finished washing your dog and you’re looking at the back of your dog shampoo label, and notice that there is tea tree oil in the ingredients list. Wait a minute, isn’t tea tree oil highly toxic to dogs?
- Is it safe to use on your four-legged family member?
- Should you take them immediately to the vet?
- Should you trash the shampoo immediately?
Tea tree oil is known as toxic to dogs, however the key factor leading to this toxicity is the rate of dilution. Using undiluted or highly concentrated tea tree oil on your dog (or any pet) is very dangerous and can cause severe poisoning. This applies for both licking or using directly on the skin.
Dogs are sometimes unknowingly exposed to tea tree oil through using in an essential oil diffuser for room fragrance. This sends concentrated droplets of the essential oil into the air and may directly affect your dog.
The Pet Poison Helpline assures pet parents that if used according to label directions, tea tree oil is generally considered non-toxic for dogs if used at dilution rates of less than 1-2%.
Is tea tree oil really safe for your dog at lower levels of dilution? It’s a little bit like using a human pain relief product such as Tylenol. This is safe and beneficial for humans in the right dose, but at high levels could make you very sick. The same philosophy applies to tea tree oil and dogs.
How can you be sure then, that the level of tea tree oil used in a product is within the safe levels? The best thing to do is contact the company directly and ask them. If they won’t tell you the answer, or they don’t know, it’s safest to assume the levels are unknown, and discontinue using the product.
In case you’re wondering, here at WashBar we do use tea tree oil in one of our best-selling products. We have chosen this for its antibacterial and antifungal properties, and overall benefits for dog skin health. I'm happy to report (since you’re interested) that the amount in WashBar Original Soap for Dogs is 0.68%, and is well under the recommended safety guidelines.
So go forth and enjoy clean, healthy and itch-free skin, and plenty of cuddles with your pupper, secure in the knowledge of their safety.
IMPORTANT: If you think your dog has been exposed to any toxic materials, see a vet immediately.