As a pet owner you might have seen the ingredient melaleuca used in pet shampoos and topical products claiming to remove fleas. What you might not know is that melaleuca, also known as tea tree oil is highly poisonous to dogs.
As little of 7 drops of melaleuca oil may result in the death of your dog. Commercially available products use such a low concentration of melaleuca that it’s not likely to do anything to the fleas, and not much to your pet. Is it really worth using? Probably not.
The answer here is certainly not making up your own solution with increased concentration, but to avoid using melaleuca on your dog and cat completely.
Affects on your dog
Depending on how much tea tree oil is ingested, it can have detrimental effects on a dog. Symptoms of tea tree oil poisoning are:
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of coordination
- Drop in body temperature
- Skin rashes
- Seizures (in severe cases)
- Pneumonia (from inhalation)
The cause of tea tree oil poisoning in dogs is due to the ingestion of tea tree oil. This usually occurs when the tea tree oil is applied to the dog’s fur or skin and is licked by the dog.
Tea tree oil should only be used in certain dilated quantities and only under the supervision of your veterinarian. Causes of sickness include the rapid absorption of the chemicals into the skin, causing burns or rashes, the rapid absorption of the chemicals if taken orally, causing burns or mouth ulcers and the chemicals of the essential oils are metabolized through the liver.
If you suspect that your dog has consumed or had a fairly high dosage of melaleuca / tea tree on its fur and skin, DO NOT DELAY, immediately wash any external area with clean water only where melaleuca / tea tree may have come in contact with your dog and then get your dog to the local veterinarian immediately.
Request that your dog be put on IV Fluids if your veterinarian believes would not provide any adverse effects. This could be honestly the difference between saving your dog or not.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the toxicity in the clinical signs that your dog possesses. There is no magic solution that just fixes it.
Treatment methods may include Intravenous Fluids, IV fluids will be given to hydrate your dog so he may respond better to treatment. IV fluids are given to the dog also encourage urination.
Medications The veterinarian will choose which medications to give to your dog. Anti-vomiting medications may be given to prevent aspiration, medications may be given to protect the liver and stomach, and antibiotics may be given. Every dog is different, and every toxic dosage will vary, depending on the quantity of dilution in the amount ingested.
With rapid and proper treatment, your dog has a good chance of recovery. Once you take your dog home from the veterinarian or animal hospital, it will be important to keep an eye on your loved one for any behavioural changes or new symptoms. The veterinarian will give you instructions on how to continue caring for your dog, and how to administer any medications.
Your veterinarian may want to see your dog again so he can continue to monitor his progress. If you have any questions or concerns once you are home with your dog, it is very important to contact your veterinarian.