Can I Use Tea Tree Shampoo On My Dog?

You can use tea tree shampoo on your dog as long as you dilute the shampoo with water before applying it to your dog. Undiluted human shampoo (even if it’s tea tree) can cause dry and irritated skin. To avoid this issue, you can purchase tea tree shampoo made specifically for dogs.

Tea tree shampoo has become increasingly popular over the last few years. It’s so useful to humans that it’s natural to wonder whether it can help our pets as well.

You can use tea tree shampoo on your dog, provided you:

  1. Clear it with your vet
  2. Use very diluted shampoo made specifically for dogs
  3. Make sure to rinse the shampoo entirely, so the dog doesn’t ingest any

Undiluted tea tree oil on the skin, and ingestion of even diluted oil can cause severe reactions in dogs. So while it can be used, care must be taken.

Choosing the Right Shampoo

If you decide to use tea tree shampoo on your dog, here are some guidelines that will help you pick out the right shampoo

Use Dog Shampoo

A surprising number of people use human shampoo on their dog, figuring that one shampoo is just as good as the next.

However, this isn’t true, and using shampoo intended for humans on your dog will likely cause dry and itchy skin.

The pH balance of dogs’ skin is much different from humans, so they have different needs for hair and skin products.

Tea tree shampoo meant for humans may also contain too much tea tree oil for your dog, which we’ll get into in the next section.

Check the Strength

Undiluted tea tree oil is way too harsh for dogs.

Using too high a concentration of tea tree oil on your dog can lead to skin reactions and severe illness, so make sure to check the label before you buy.

Tea tree shampoo formulated for dogs will have between 0.1% – 1% tea tree oil, keeping it in the safe range.

This is why it’s also important to not make your own tea tree shampoo for your dog.

Quality Matters

Make sure the tea tree oil is made and sold by a reputable company, with quality control measures in place.

Otherwise, the quality and strength can vary from bottle to bottle, and you can never be sure what you’re getting.

Ask Your Vet

Before making the switch to tea tree shampoo for your dog, double-check with your vet.

Your dog may have a condition or be on a medication that will make it a bad idea, so it’s best to run it by a professional first to make sure.

Your vet may also be able to recommend specific shampoos or brands that they’ve tested and know to be safe for your dog.

The Benefits of Tea Tree Shampoo For Dogs

The way people talk about tea tree oil, it seems like a cure-all for every problem known to man (and dog). While this is an exaggeration, of course, it definitely helps with a lot of common issues.

Antifungal, Antibacterial, and Antiviral Properties

Tea tree oil is said to have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, so it can eliminate, or at least help control, skin problems like:

  1. Yeast infections
  2. Ringworm
  3. Pyoderma
  4. Canine acne

Keep in mind that the tea tree oil in dog shampoo is more than enough to have an effect. Using a more concentrated solution will not be more effective and may harm the dog.

Soothing

Some people swear by tea tree oil’s soothing properties when used on problem skin.

Never use it on broken skin, though, and always do a small patch test first to make sure your dog doesn’t have a reaction to it.

Although some dogs tolerate tea tree shampoo well, others may experience worsening symptoms caused by a sensitivity to the oil.

Repels Parasites

Many natural flea and tick shampoos contain tea tree oil since it’s thought to kill and repel parasites.

As with the other suggestions, don’t try to use a more concentrated solution to get better results, as it will just increase the chances of adverse reactions in the dog.

Anti-Inflammatory

Tea tree oil is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can be useful if the dog’s skin is dry and itchy, causing frequent scratching.

Be careful, though, because if the skin is already sensitive, shampoo containing tea tree oil may be too harsh for the dog, especially if you haven’t tried it before.

Tea Tree Oil Cautions

As mentioned above, never use a tea tree oil solution that’s stronger than 0.1-1% on a dog.

Never allow the dog to ingest the tea tree oil. This includes making sure to thoroughly rinse the shampoo off the dog.

Think twice about using tea tree shampoo on small dogs, as they’re able to tolerate less of it before it becomes toxic if ingested.

Signs of tea tree oil poisoning in dogs are:

  • Vomiting
  • Increased salivation and drooling
  • Weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Incoordination
  • Rash
  • Coma
  • Death

The symptoms of tea tree oil poisoning in dogs can come on suddenly, or take between 2 and 12 hours to appear, so make sure to observe your dog closely during this time.

If you suspect your dog may have ingested tea tree oil or that he’s having an adverse reaction to a topical application, call your vet or an emergency pet poison control number right away.

Tea Tree Oil Alternatives

If you’re not sure about using tea tree shampoo on your dog, there are plenty of alternatives to try instead.

Medicated Flea and Tick Treatments

Medicated flea and tick treatments have been on the market for decades and have proven to be safe for most dogs.

They’re either preventative or kill current infestations and come in a variety of applications:

  • Pills
  • Chews
  • Collars
  • Shampoos
  • Creams
  • Medicated collars
  • Powders

As always, be sure to check with your vet before using any oral or topical medication on your dog to make sure it’s safe.

Oatmeal Baths

If your dog is suffering from allergies or otherwise dry, itchy skin and dermatitis, it’s no wonder that you’re looking to find some relief for him.

You can do a homemade oatmeal bath by filling a sock with oatmeal and tying it closed. Put the sock in a tub of water, wait for the oatmeal to soak, then submerge your dog in the water for several minutes.

Be sure to rinse him thoroughly.

You can also make an oatmeal paste with oatmeal and water and apply it to the dog’s trouble spots for a few minutes before rinsing off.

Grinding the dry oatmeal in a blender first makes it easier to work with but is not necessary.

There are also plenty of store-bought dog shampoos that contain oatmeal and are formulated for sensitive skin.

Medicated Allergy Treatments

Just like there are for pests, there are several medicated solutions for dogs with allergies.

These come in many different options:

  • Oral allergy pills
  • Creams
  • Shampoos

These are safe, nontoxic options to help control your dog’s itching during allergy season.

Talk To Your Vet

There’s a good deal of conflicting advice out there when it comes to using tea tree oil on your dog.

Some say it’s safe if you’re very careful, and others say that the benefits aren’t worth the potential risk. Some claim that it solves just about any skin problem you can think of, while others point out a lack of definitive evidence.

When using any new product on your dog, be sure to do your research and talk to your vet before deciding.

If you do decide to use tea tree oil on your dog, either in shampoo or other forms, make sure that it’s very diluted and formulated specifically for dogs.

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