Tea Tree Oil: A Natural Antiseptic and Insect Repellent
Most of you interested in aromatherapy or holistic health will have heard of tea tree oil, or melaleuca. It can be found in natural cleaning products and beauty products. But what is it exactly and how may this essential oil be used with your horse or dog?
What is Meleleuca?
Melaleuca alternifolia is an Australian plant that has been widely used in Australia for 100 years. In the past several decades there have been studies revealing the health benefits of tea tree oil, especially as a natural antiseptic.
Properties and Benefits of Tea Tree Oil
This powerful essential oil has the ability to kill many strains of virus, bacteria, and fungi making it a popular antiseptic to use on both humans and animals.
Melaleuca may be used specifically for the following:
- Insect repellent
- Anti fungal: thrush, rain rot, and other fungus.
- Anti bacterial: scrapes and wounds
As strong as it is, I love tea tree oil. It may actually be my favorite to use in my house. A few years ago I had my nose pierced. It looked very cute but the metal just did not agree with my skin. Instead of cleaning with harsh soap I put a dab of melaleuca on a q-tip and used that to clean it. The results were fantastic! Ultimately, I had to remove the nose ring due to a metal allergy, but I wouldn’t have been able to keep it as long without the tea tree oil preventing infection.
Our first recipe for the Fly & Tick Repellent contained melaleuca. It did a fantastic job naturally repelling insects. However, because it can cause sensitivity we removed it from the product and replaced with effective but less allergenic ingredients. It never caused a problem that we know of, but we believe in safety first.
Hint: I love working with tea tree oil and make a homemade No-Lice spray for my daughters so they don’t contract them at school. Melaleuca is a key ingredient because it repels a large number of insects but smells great to us!
How to Apply
Where you apply tea tree oil depends on the need. It MUST be heavily diluted. Use only one drop per 4 oz of carrier only to start. Patch testing is always a good idea prior to using on a larger scale.
Melaleuca should never be ingested by animals. It is a very strong oil and in some cases when not used or dluted correctly, it can be toxic. When used correctly, it can be a powerful thrush buster, insect repellent, and wound cleaner.
Nope be afraid though! I always encourage using it on yourself first. It smells great, does not sting on open wounds, and can dry up acne overnight. I know from personal experience.
Cons of Using Tea Tree Oil with Animals
Melaleuca (tea tree oil) is very strong. As a result, some animals are sensitive to it and it can create skin issues such as rubbing, itching, or even hives. Some people and animals may even have an allergy.
In the Event of a Negative Reaction
A negative reaction to essential oils may appear as circling, whining, attempt to rub the site of contact or in rare cases vomiting and diarrhea. If this occurs, you may rinse your pet in that spot with milk to counteract the oil. If symptoms persist, please contact your veterinarian.
When used properly melaleuca can be a fantastic addition to your medicine cabinet.
*Disclaimer: Before you use essential oils contact your vet to determine if there are any complications with your animal’s medications. Cats are extremely sensitive to essential oils and they should not be used without medical supervision. This article is for educational purposes only. Massage professionals are not qualified to diagnose, treat, or prescribe medication.