Because of it's popularity in treating human skin conditions, tea tree oil has started showing up in pet shampoos and other topical products.

I've been told that tea tree oil is toxic to pets. Can I safely use these products?

  • Tea tree oil is toxic to humans as well as pets, when ingested.
    – augurar
    Aug 12, 2015 at 7:39

2 Answers 2


Cats are very sensitive to essential oils so please do not use them on your pets, especially directly on them. Their livers can't process the volatile and aromatic compounds the way most animals can because they lack the appropriate enzymes. So as they try to metabolize the compounds in the essential oil, they aren't broken down and eliminated, and can quickly build up to toxic levels.

Cats can absorb these compounds in essential oils by mouth, contact with the skin or by inhalation if they are being used in a diffuser.

Cats are most susceptible to essential oils that contain terpenes (like tea tree oil) and phenols (thyme, oregano, clove). Treat all essential oils as potentially harmful and consult your veterinarian on what you can safely use on your cat.

Sources: http://cats.about.com/od/housekeeping/a/aromatherapy.htm http://www.thelavendercat.com/images/PDF-TheLavenderCat_temp_use.pdf Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to the Use of Essential Oils & Hydrosols with Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell


From one of the petcare websites:

Its popularity has resulted in some veterinary skin care products that contain small amounts of tea tree oil. In small concentrations (.1% to 1%), tea tree oil is tolerated and safe for cats and dogs. 

Unfortunately, the oil's popularity has resulted in larger numbers of households with bottles of 100 percent tree tea oil, and accidental ingestion or improper dilutions of this highly concentrated oil can be harmful to pets.

in other words, as with any pet supply, the reputable brands are probably safe enough and will likely have this info on their label; if you buy some backyard potion beware.

  • One has to wonder if at such low concentrations that it's safe for cats, is it still an effective treatment, or is it just a hazardous gimmick?
    – sh1
    Jul 30, 2015 at 7:17
  • 1
    One has to wonder whether any trendy ingredient is effective. I would recommend instead getting vet's advice on what products work well or what ingredients to look for.
    – keshlam
    Jul 30, 2015 at 14:57
  • 1
    @sh1 Note that even in humans, "despite years of use, available clinical evidence does not support the effectiveness of tea tree oil for treating skin problems and infections".
    – augurar
    Aug 12, 2015 at 7:36

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