Warning: Pure Tea Tree Oil Is Toxic

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Super Boxer
I learned my lesson the hard way today. Brutus was itching his neck area, so I'm thinking the little bit of tea tree oil in his shampoo helps with an itchy dog, I have pure tea tree oil in a bottle. I'll put some on his neck. WRONG!!!!!! I did this at 8pm last night. This morning he woke up and couldn't walk. His hind legs were very hard for him to move. I searched the internet at 6am while I was waiting for my vet to call. Found out it is highly toxic to animals, and is like applying turpentine to their skin! It has a neurologic effect on them. OK, so he didn't itch all night, THAT'S BECAUSE HE COULDN'T MOVE!!! Poor Brutus! I met the vet at his office for IV therapy and monitoring. But by that time, it seemed the neurologic effects were starting to wear off. Brutus was able to walk much better than first thing this morning. His bowel and bladder were working. The vet examined him and decided he's a big boy, he seems to be overcoming the effect. He didn't think an IV was necessary. He discharged Brutus home to me, his very stupid mother, and wants me to encourage Brutus to drink water so he can keep flushing his own system. I've added chicken broth to his water dish, and he drank some, but right now he's so exhausted from the ordeal, he wants to sleep. I washed his skin off with mild soap and water where I had applied the oil. The vet gave me a gentomycin spray that will help with the itching. I'm writing this out of true embarrassment and GUILT. But I'm hoping to warn other animal owners to learn from my stupidity. DO NOT USE TEA TREE OIL ON YOUR ANIMAL....NEVER! I will keep you all updated as to how he's doing. My vet wants me to bring him in on Friday for a bloodtest/chem profile, to make sure his organs are functioning well. I will do whatever I have to for Brutus. Including trying to teach others to learn from my stupid stupid mistake!


Reasonable Moderator
Staff member
i am sorry that you found out the hard way. From what I understand, all essential oils should be mixed with something. They should never be applied in their concentrated form. That applies to people as well as dogs.

I hope Brutus is feeling better soon and has no lasting effects.


Boxer Insane
Wow. Thanks for the warning.
I used Tea Tree Oil on Quincy once when he had hives.
I didn't use a lot and that may be why nothing happened to him.
But I won't use it again.


Boxer Insane
Thank you for sharing that info. I am forever grateful for the things I learn from BW and it's members.

I am glad that Brutus is improving. Sending lots of good healthy vibes his way.


Boxer Insane
i am so glad to hear brutus is doing good. im sorry you and brutus had to go through that. what a scary situation for both of you. thank you for sharing the information and saving someone else from going through what the two of you did.

Hi From NZ

Boxer Booster
And yet they sell Tea Tree animal shampoos? I'm not surprised you were lulled into thinking it was safe. As all the others have said, thank you for sharing your experience, it takes a big person to do that. And what a scary experience that must've been for you, to wake up and find him like that...:( Good luck with the followup visit and Brutus'...errrr...'detox'.


Completely Boxer Crazy
Thank you for sharing. I have been using Tea Tree oil shampoo on my poor dog, sometimes even sprayed him with Tea Tree oil. Now I will stop.


Super Boxer
Thanks everyone!

Thanks for all your replys. Brutus was back to his usual self yesterday. Running around, chasing his toy, able to climb steps (more than one at a time). Alot more energy. He's doing great! Sunday morning when I had to meet the vet at his office, we later discussed the use of tea tree oil. Yes, it's used in shampoo's with good effects. But it's only 1%. NOT full strength. I've been using tea tree oil shampoo on Brutus for a long time now with no ill effects. It's the full strength that can be toxic. Here is a quote from Wipikedia:

Tea tree oil has long been used as a method of all natural effective flea control by adding the oil directly to dogs, horses and sheep fur or their bathing water. Use on cats has been known to make them sick and in some cases kill them, this is due to cats licking their fur and consuming the oil.[24]

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. A case report has been published in which three cats had clinical signs and one cat died after being treated with the oil.

All I can say is I didn't know what I was doing, and should have researched it more before I did it. It could have cost me my best friend! Just be very very careful!
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