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Is Tea Tree Dog Shampoo Safe? (2023 Puppy Update)

Tea tree oil’s popularity as an active element in dog shampoos has increased over the last decade. Although this oil has tremendous benefits for humans, you may wonder if tea tree dog shampoo is safe because our furry friends are pretty sensitive.

Tea tree dog shampoos aren’t safe when used undiluted. Concentrated tea tree oil in these products can cause tremors, lethargy, depression signs, ataxia, and paresis in dogs. The severity of these side effects varies due to factors like age and weight.

tea tree dog shampoo
Is tea tree dog shampoo safe?

We’ve taken the time to explain why tea tree dog shampoos are unsafe. This post also discusses why some dog shampoos include tea tree oil and a review of tea tree dog shampoos.

Why Is Tea Tree Dog Shampoo Unsafe?

Tea tree dog shampoos are unsafe for dogs as they contain chemicals like terpenes which are toxic to dogs. Although these chemicals have medicinal benefits like fighting bacteria and fungal infections, they may cause fatal side effects to your four-legged friend when consumed in high concentrations.

shampoo bottle
Getting shampoo in an orange bottle.

Dogs’ bodies quickly absorb terpenes regardless of the mode of intake, meaning that the toxicity level is the same whether you apply the shampoo to the dog’s skin or if your furry friend drinks it accidentally.

The severity of terpenes toxicity varies according to the amount your dog absorbs or ingests. Your dog may drool, vomit, show weakness, seem paralyzed, and have trouble walking if they absorb small amounts of terpenes.

However, if dogs take in high amounts of these chemicals, they may show signs like seizures, tremors, low levels of consciousness, or even coma. Terpenes toxicity symptoms may take two to twelve hours after absorption to show. Therefore, keep an eye on your dog after the exposure to identify if they need urgent help.

Call a vet if your dog shows signs of terpenes toxicity. There’s no specific treatment for terpenes, as different toxicity levels require varying measures. Your dog will only need skin decontamination by bathing them with gentle dish soap if they show mild illness.

On the other hand, severe symptoms like seizures, tremors, and vomiting should each be treated with the appropriate medications. The veterinarian may administer these medications as intravenous fluids for easy absorption into the dog’s system. 

Additionally, your dog may need liver protectants if exposed to high amounts of terpenes, for instance, if they accidentally drink a lot of shampoos. Tea tree oil leads to the excretion of excess liver enzymes, causing severe damage to the organ.

Why Do Some Shampoos Have Tea Tree Oil?

Tea tree oil is mainly included in shampoos to help manage skin conditions, provide hotspot and itch relief, eliminate odors, and reduce inflammation. Using it in small diluted portions can be beneficial.

choose a dog shampoo
Choosing the right shampoo is essential for your dog’s healthy-looking coat.

This oil has antifungal and antibacterial benefits for dogs. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, this essential oil proved efficient in treating dogs with dermatitis, including pruritic skin lesions and skin folds.

With such benefits, tea tree oil has slowly made its way into animal products like dog shampoos. Many brands dilute tea tree oil before using it in dog shampoos. Tea tree oil concentrations of 0 to 0.1 percent are safe to use on your furry friend.

Concentrated amounts of tea tree oil are toxic to dogs.

Inspect dog shampoos’ labeling or packaging to ensure they contain less than one percent of the oil’s concentration before purchasing. Also, ensure you get your products from a reputable company, as some brands may lie about their products’ contents.

Conducting a skin test on your dog to confirm if they are allergic to tea tree oil shampoos is advisable. If the shampoo has a thick consistency, ensure you rinse it thoroughly. Your pup may lick the residue, making them susceptible to health complications.

To be entirely sure if tea tree dog shampoo is safe for your pooch, confirm with the vet. This is crucial as your dog may have underlying complications that might worsen after using these products.

Below are popular dog shampoos infused with tea tree oil.

John Paul Pet Australian Tea Tree Shampoo

Sale
John Paul Pet Australian Tea Tree and Eucalyptus Oil Shampoo for Dogs and Cats, Cleanses Moisturizes and Soothes Skin Irritations, 16-Ounce, clear (JPS5484)
  • Luxurious botanical shampoo cleanses, soothes and moisturizes while reducing skin irritations and helping with the healing process
  • Australian tea tree leaf oil and eucalyptus combine to safely discourage skin irritations
  • Helps allow irritated "hot spots" on your pet's skin to heal
  • Almond oil and chamomile soothe while aloe replenishes moisture
  • Made-in-the-USA from the same all-natural botanical extracts as our PAUL MITCHELL brand for humans

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Shampoo

Sale
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Dog Shampoo with Oatmeal and Tea Tree Oil, 16 oz – Fast-Acting, Gentle Medicated Shampoo for Dogs
  • GENTLE SHAMPOO FOR DOGS – Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Oatmeal & Tea Tree Oil Infuser Shampoo for Dogs provides gentle cleansing and effective healing for dry, flaky, itchy, irritated skin
  • FAST ACTING – Natural oatmeal shampoo for dogs helps relieve symptoms including redness, lesions, discharge from lesions, darker patches of skin, itchiness, loss of hair, and greasy, scaly skin
  • VETERINARY RECOMMENDED – This pet shampoo is paraben- and soap-free; It will not remove topical spot-on flea and tick treatments and can also help calm the sting and itch of insect bites
  • FOR DOGS 12 WEEKS AND OLDER – Oatmeal and tea tree dog shampoo is for use on dogs over 12 weeks of age; Due to the tea tree oil content of this shampoo, it is not safe to use on cats
  • EFFECTIVE & AFFORDABLE – Veterinary Formula Clinical Care premium medicated products are created with veterinary-grade ingredients, available at an affordable price. We know dogs are more than just pets because we are pet parents too.

Tropiclean Oatmeal and Tea Tree Pet Shampoo

Tropiclean Oatmeal and Tea Tree Pet Shampoo, 20oz
  • EFFECTIVE ITCH RELIEF – TropiClean Oatmeal & Tea Tree Medicated Itch Relief Dog & Cat Shampoo exfoliates, moisturizes and conditions your pet’s skin and coat, effectively soothing dry, itchy and irritated skin
  • MEDICATED FORMULA – This medicated formula is enhanced with beta hydroxy to help provide long lasting itch relief
  • SAFE SOLUTION – Soap Free, Paraben Free and Dye Free. Made with naturally derived ingredients and safe when used as directed on dogs and cats 12 weeks or older
  • SOOTHING BLEND – Formulated to soothe dry, itchy skin
  • MADE IN THE USA – We proudly manufacture and ship our products with only the highest quality, naturally derived ingredients

Pros and Cons of Tea Tree Dog Shampoos

Tea tree dog shampoos can be beneficial and, at the same time, detrimental to your dog.

Toy Poodle bath time
Toy Poodle enjoys bath time on a basin.

Advantages of using tea tree dog shampoos include:

  • Treating dog ears: Tea tree oil is rich in gamma-terpinene, which helps treat ear problems like ear mites and ringworm infections.
  • Soothing skin: Using tea tree shampoos will help soothe your dog’s skin after continuous itching. However, you shouldn’t use it on broken skin as the toxic chemicals may enter the dog’s system, which is dangerous for its health.
  • Improving dogs’ coats:  Tea tree shampoos have several benefits to dogs’ coats. Aside from treating canine acne, ringworm, pyoderma, and yeast infections, these products will also make your furry friend’s coat soft and shiny.
  • Getting rid of fleas and ticks: Using tea tree shampoos will help keep fleas and ticks away from your dog.

Although tea tree shampoos have several benefits, these products may have adverse effects on dogs in specific scenarios. Some of these instances include:

  • If you use a shampoo whose tea tree concentration is more than one percent.
  • If the dog ingests the shampoo.
  • If you don’t thoroughly rinse off the products.
  • If you use the products on small dogs (those under six weeks old).

Symptoms of tea tree poisoning include drooling, vomiting, muscle tremors, rash, seizures, incoordination, coma, or even death. These symptoms may show immediately or two to twelve hours after exposure. Therefore, monitor your pooch and call the vet if they get worse.

Tea tree oil poisoning mostly happens when your dog licks its fur after bathing. Your vet may inquire about the amount of tea tree oil ingestion before administering treatment. Blood work may come in handy if the veterinarian wishes to ascertain the state of your dog’s liver and kidney.

Wrap Up

Tea tree dog shampoo has several health benefits for dogs when used in the appropriate concentrations. However, this product is unsafe for dogs when used in undiluted states. Before exposing your four-legged friend to these products, you should first test the products on them and confirm with the veterinarian.