A few days ago I read an article about tea tree oil for dogs and absolutely cringed.
The article said that tea tree oil is not safe for dogs and cited a 2014 article written by the ASPCA that looked at toxicity cases of 337 dogs and 106 cats after exposing them to tea tree oil at 100% concentration.
STOP RIGHT THERE!
Under no circumstances should ANY essential oil ever be applied to your skin, your dog's skin, or your cat's skin at 100% concentration (undiluted) and certainly no animal should ever consume undiluted essential oils!
Unfortunately, the article didn't address why tea tree oil got a bad reputation, how it can be safely used, and when you should use tea tree dog shampoo for yeast and bacterial infections.
So, let's talk about tea tree oil and look at the facts.
What Is So Scary About Tea Tree Oil for Dogs?
Tea tree oil comes from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant.
In the late 1980s Melaleuca became wildly popular leading to a surge in poor quality, contaminated, and synthetically created tea tree marketed "oils" that were, not surprisingly, cheap and dangerous.
Holistic veterinarian, Dr Melissa Shelton, owner of animalEO, the world's expert on the use of essential oils in veterinary treatment and animal wellness, says in her book:
"The cases of tea tree oil toxicity that have enough data to trace and research the sources have revealed poor grade and synthetic substitutes or gross mis-use and over-dosage." Dr Melissa Shelton, Animal Desk Reference Second Edition, Essential Oils for Animals
She is, of course, 100% correct.
Synthetic "Essential Oils" Are Dangerous
Synthetic products being sold as essential oils is not new and is very dangerous. Without question, these synthetic fragrance oils (they are not essential oils) do cause adverse reactions and should never be used.
If you search Amazon for "essential oils" one of the first hits that comes up is an essential oil set of 6 oils, each bottle is 10 milliliters.
One of the essential oils in the set is... you guessed it, tea tree oil.
The company goes to great lengths to "prove" their essential oils are “100% Organic Natural Pure Oils” and yet they are selling the 6 pack essential oil set for $9.99.
Quite simply, these prices are too cheap to reflect true, pure, organic essential oils.
It is just simply not possible. When you understand production costs, you can clearly see the impossibility of these prices. Yet, the essential oil set has over 111,000 positive reviews. Unbelievable and disgusting.
These oils are, without a doubt, fragrance oils (synthetic) and should be marketed as such. They are not safe for you, your dog, your cat or any living being.
A 10 mL bottle of pure tea tree oil would cost approximately $20 on its own and a 6 pack of pure essential oils would cost closer to $120.
Cleaning Products With Tea Tree Oil
The article also talked about cleaning products with tea tree oil and said they should be avoided.
Here, I will agree with the author of the article but for a different reason.
Most cleaning products contain synthetic oils (fragrance oils) instead of essential oils due to the high cost of sourcing and manufacturing pure essential oils.
These synthetic oils are in laundry detergent, floor cleaners, air fresheners, dryer sheets, candles and more.
Quite simply, these synthetic oils are not safe and should be avoided in all of their forms whether it be dog shampoo, laundry detergent, or floor cleaner.
What is Tea Tree Oil Good For?
Tea Tree oil derived from Melaleuca is an all natural effective antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory oil. It is indicated for yeast or bacterial infections of the skin, ringworm, candida, and various other skin conditions.
Another article sent to us by customers talked about using tea tree oil topically asked an important question: "It’s thought a concentration of tea tree oil of 0.1-1% or even 2% is safe. But do you really want to risk it?"
The answer quite simply is, YES!
Tea tree oil is a safe and effective natural alternative to more toxic conventional treatments such as Ketoconazole when the tea tree oil is high quality, diluted properly, and part of a tri-blend.
Sometimes conventional medications like ketoconazole are necessary in severe cases, but they don’t have to be the first choice when holistic alternatives are also effective.
A tea tree dog shampoo can safely and naturally support your dog that is battling a yeast or bacterial infection when it is pure tea tree essential oil and diluted properly.
Facts About Tea Tree Oil Safety
In Tisserand and Young's 2nd Edition of Essential Oil Safety, it is plainly stated, "Much nonsense has been written about tea tree oil safety."
Everyone who has an interest in the safe use of essential oils should own this book as it is a true scientific review of the proper and effective use of essential oils.
Tisserand and Young's comments on the use of pure, unadulterated tea tree oil for dermal application states that,
"Unoxidized tea tree oil presents a very low risk, even in patients with compromised skin, when used at concentrations up to 10%."
They also cite a review by Wabner et. al. (2006) on the sale of 12,205,539 bottles of undiluted pure tea tree oil from an Australian company resulting in 16 adverse reactions being reported. This represents 0.000013% of bottles sold. In other words, an extremely low incidence of risk when it is a pure essential oil.
While Tisserand and Young recommended maximum dermal use level is 15% for pure tea tree oil, the typical dilution of tea tree oil in a dog shampoo would be less than 2% and it should be part of a tri-blend of oils for maximum effectiveness. This exactly describes 4-Legger USDA Certified Organic Peppermint and Tea Tree Dog Shampoo.
Tisserand and Young also noted that old or oxidized oils should be avoided, hence all products with tea tree oil should have a "best by date" and be in dark bottles to avoid oxidation.
If your dog has a yeast or bacterial infection, you should absolutely support your dog with a tea tree dog shampoo like 4-Legger's tea tree oil dog shampoo with peppermint and eucalyptus.
4-Legger's organic Peppermint and Tea Tree shampoo for dogs uses a pure unadulterated USDA Certified organic tea tree oil in a tri-blend and is diluted to be a safe, all natural, effective alternative to medicated dog shampoo.
We are all becoming very aware of how Ill-advised it is to accept just about everything that shows up in print these days.
The article that prompted our response is a perfect example of mis-information being regurgitated out with very little thought about relevant content sources, actual research or analytical data. As staunch advocates for holistic methods to advance animal wellness in all health-related areas, this is the sort of thing our wonderful holistic community is getting very good at recognizing and calling out.