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Tea Tree Oil for Fleas on Dogs: Is It Safe for Your Pet?

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Tea tree oil is said to be an excellent flea repellent. Even if it is said to be safe for pets in low concentrations and diluted, it is not recommended to use it on your pet due to its toxic potential. Tea tree oil can cause poisoning in your dog if ingested.

Fleas are nasty insects that cause your dog to itch and scratch all day. If you leave your dog untreated, fleas can infest your home and even feed on you and your family.

There are many household products that you can use to get rid of fleas, and tea tree oil is one of them.

Tea tree oil is widely known for its many applications in humans. Those who are looking for natural ways to treat fleas in their dog should know that this remedy, although considered safe if used in the right concentrations, is not recommended by vets.

In this article, you will find out what tea tree oil is, if it is safe for dogs, if tea tree oil can kill fleas on dogs, and more.

What Is Tea Tree Oil?

Tea tree oil is an essential oil with many benefits in human medicine. It is used to treat a wide range of conditions, such as cold, flu, allergy, or skin problems. Few oils equal its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

The tea tree is native to Australia and primarily grows in swampy areas. Due to its benefits, the tea tree is currently grown on huge plantations.

Tea tree oil is obtained through steam distillation of the leaves and twigs of the tea tree Melaleuca alternifolia. It is also known as melaleuca oil. Its color varies from pale yellow to almost colorless and clear.[1]

It is considered to be one of the least irritating antiseptic oils, being used by humans to treat a variety of conditions:

  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Acne
  • Abscess
  • Skin rash
  • Herpes
  • Warts
  • Intimate and oral hygiene

Tea tree oil can be applied in moderation, even to young children.

What Is Tea Tree Oil

Is Tea Tree Oil Safe for Dogs?

If you use the right concentration and dilution, tea tree oil can be used on dogs to treat wounds, dry skin, fleas, or itching. Tea tree oil is not recommended by many vets.

If tea tree oil is not diluted, it can cause certain severe medical complications. For this reason, many veterinarians do not recommend using tea tree oil on pets.

Tea tree oil products with a concentration of 0.1-1% are generally considered safe for pets and should be used according to the instructions on the package. These products should always be diluted before application.

Highly concentrated tea tree oil can cause poisoning in dogs if ingested or absorbed through the skin.

Among the benefits tea tree oil has on pets are:

  • Heals dry and damaged skin
  • Kills yeast
  • Kills fleas and has a repellent effect
  • Soothes irritated and itching skin
Is Tea Tree Oil Safe for Dogs

Side Effects of Ingesting Tea Tree Oil in Dogs

According to ASPCA, tea tree oil can cause severe and potentially life-threatening side effects in dogs, even if it is commonly recommended to treat and prevent fleas.[2]

Tea tree oil products are found in different concentrations. High concentrations should never be used for pets.

Severe poisoning by ingestion in dogs can occur with only seven drops of 100% concentrated tea tree oil. 10-20 ml of 100% tea tree oil applied on the skin can lead to the pet’s death.[3]

The most common side effects tea tree oil poisoning in dogs are[4]:

  • Severe signs of central nervous system depression
  • Paresis
  • Ataxia
  • Tremor
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Death (in some cases)

These symptoms appear within 2-12 hours of ingesting the oil and last up to three days.

Ingestion of tea tree oil can also lead to severe damage to the respiratory system and liver.

If your dog has been exposed to high concentrations of tea tree oil, contact your veterinarian immediately.

sick dog on vet

Can Tea Tree Oil Kill Fleas?

Tea tree oil can kill fleas successfully, and can also keep them away due to the camphor smell. Tea tree oil kills fleas by blocking their tracheal system which is vital for them.

Due to the intense use of antiparasitic products, many fleas have become resistant to the active ingredients. Using low concentrations of tea tree oil can be an effective weapon against fleas on dogs.

Tea tree oil can kill fleas through various mechanisms of action. It is effective in controlling them if it is used with caution.

The effect of essential oils on fleas is not entirely known, but there is evidence that they have a toxic effect on the flea’s nervous system.[5]

Essential oils are hydrophobic. This makes them exert a mechanical effect on the flea, leading to death by suffocation.

How to Safely Use Tea Tree Oil?

100% concentrated tea tree oil is extremely potent and can be dangerous to humans and pets. If you want to use tea tree oil for your skincare or on your dog, make sure you dilute it beforehand.

Follow these tips for safe application:

  • It is safest to use very low concentrations of tea tree oil for your dog, such as 0.1-1%.
  • Dilute tea tree oil in jojoba or olive oil – 3 drops of tea tree oil (0.5%) in 30 ml oil. 
  • Apply to a small area of the skin to see if any irritation occurs.
  • Do not spray tea tree oil around the face or in areas where your dog can reach. Use it on its collar or harness.
  • If your dog gets irritated when you perform the skin test, clean the area with soap and water, and never use tea tree oil on your dog again.
  • Make sure your dog does not lick the areas where you sprayed tea tree oil.

It is safest to use the dilution of tea tree oil on carpets, furniture, or other areas where you find fleas and not on your dog.

How to Safely Use Tea Tree Oil

Safer Alternatives for Repelling Fleas

Tea tree oil has toxic potential for dogs, which is why it is recommended to use other products to repel fleas on your dog and in your home. Alternatives include giving your dog a good bath and the use of antiparasitic products for dogs.

There are safer methods for you and your dog than using tea tree oil. Here are the most common.

Bathe your dog

Whether you use antiparasitic or simple flea shampoo, a bath to let your dog soak is safer than using tea tree oil. You can also use Dawn dish soap for a better effect.

Clean your home

You can stop fleas from spreading if you do the following:

  • Vacuum the floors, carpets, and furniture such as the sofa
  • Wash the furniture covers and the dog bedding
  • Disinfect the floors

Apply antiparasitic products on your dog

To treat and prevent fleas on your dog, you can use spot-on pipettes, collars, chewable tablets, and other products that are specially designed to kill and repel fleas and ticks.

Spot-on Pipettes

How to Prevent Fleas on My Dog

Fleas on dogs can be prevented by applying antiparasitic substances on the back of the neck or by oral administration of chewable tablets. The most commonly used antiparasitic products are spot-on pipettes.

Most topical antiparasitic products are easy to apply and take effect in a maximum of 48 hours.

The antiparasitic products can be used at home without the help of a veterinarian.

Topical products are applied to the back of the head of the pet onto the skin.

If you don’t want to intoxicate your dog, use the right concentration for its weight.

Antiparasitics poisoning can be fatal to your dog if not treated in time.

The products you can use to prevent fleas are:

  • Spot-on pipettes
  • Collars
  • Sprays
  • Powders
  • Shampoos
  • Chewable tablets

Anti-parasitic shampoos are not as effective as other products, such as spot-on pipettes or collars. If your dog has a massive flea infestation, they can help reduce their number.

If your dog shows signs of intoxication, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Related: Flea Bites on Dogs: Identification & Symptoms

Other Natural Remedies Against Fleas

If you are looking for other home remedies against fleas on dogs, try these out:

FAQs

Can I Spray My Dog With Tea Tree Oil?

Tea tree oil is not recommended for use in dogs, even if it is diluted. It can be poisonous if ingested, causing nervous symptoms and even the death of your pet.

Does Tea Tree Shampoo Kill Fleas on Dogs?

Even if tea tree oil kills fleas, it is not recommended to use products that contain this oil on your dog. Intoxication may occur if your dog accidentally ingests it, or you use the wrong concentration.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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