Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
I am so sorry to hear that your dog was exposed to tea tree oil. Her symptoms do sound like a toxic reaction as the terpenes in the oil cause central nervous system depression, leading to weakness, muscle tremors, incoordination and mental dullness and depression. In some cases it can be depressing enough to the central nervous system to lead to death.
I know that you have rinsed her but these are fat soluble compounds and they need degreasing agents to be effectively removed. I recommend bathing her with Dawn dishwashing soap to remove as much as possible.
There is no antidote to tea tree oil toxicity, we simply need to remove as much of the toxin as possible and then rely on supportive care while the toxins wear off.
I recommend that you watch her closely tonight after bathing her. If she becomes more depressed and her symptoms are worsening even with removing the toxin then she should be admitted to a veterinary emergency hospital for intravenous fluids to flush out the toxin, warming and support.
Best of luck with your girl, please let me know if you have any further questions.
ok, just unwrapped her and got her up and walking around a bit. she's a lot more alert her hind legs are stronger and her coordination is good now. tail's down but no longer tucked under, actually up a little, she drank a little water but not much but other half just took her out to pee and said she is actually walking fast now too (and pee'd twice. in all much better than when i got home. the bathing is a big deal for her and she's been through it twice now. given the improvement i'd hate to put her through a whole wash & rinse again unless you really strongly feel she should still have it...
i've heard about small quantities of crushed activated charcoal with food before to help absorb toxins, is there anything to that?
Thanks for the update. I am very glad to hear that she seems to be feeling better.
I know that she will probably hate me for this but if she were my dog I would bathe her. We only have a limited time to remove the oil before it fully penetrates the skin and if she worsens later tonight and you didn't bathe her then you will wish you had. Rinsing simply doesn't remove much of the oil. It's like trying to remove butter with water, you need something to break up the oil and the bonds it creates to get rid of it and Dawn dishwashing soap is the best out there for that.
Activated charcoal is used in cases where dogs ingest toxins or the toxins are metabolized by the liver and put back into the gut. It binds the toxin so it cannot be absorbed from the gastrointestinal system. It isn't used for topically absorbed toxins because the toxin isn't in the gut in those cases and thus cannot be bound by the activated charcoal. If she licked off the oil then yes, it could be helpful as then the toxin would be in the gut and could be bound. The quantity needed to be effective is 1 gram to 5 grams (not milligrams, grams!) of activated charcoal per pound of body weight which is a tremendous amount to give a dog. We often need to use a gastroesophageal tube to administer it in the hospital. Small quantities aren't helpful as there needs to be enough there to bind the toxin.
ok, well the oil was already on her skin a long time before we got home because it was around 1:00pm CT that it was put on her and when we got home it was 11:15 when we got home and 11:30 when she was rinsed for about 5 - 10 minutes and now it's 12 hours later since it was applied. With what you say i'm guessing it won't help all that much now:(
Now the fleas are really bad and we got her an adams flea collar while we were out. is that ok to put on now, and hold off reapplying the spot on flea treatment (vet guard plus) until tomorrow afternoon or next day to give her system a break?
I understand now, I thought that the oil had been applied much more recently, 12 hours later is likely too late to make a difference.
I do not recommend using a flea collar on her and I also don't recommend using vet guard plus because it contains permethrins, which can also affect the nervous system in a sensitive dog. Given that she already has central nervous system symptoms I wouldn't risk it.
I would wait 48 hours and if she seems back to herself then I would use Frontline Plus. That product has an insect growth regulator to stop eggs from being produced and Fiponil as the adulticide which is in an entirely different category of insecticides, and does not affect mammals.
excellent, THANK YOU and awesome service
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Best of luck with your pup, I hope she is back to herself soon, Dr. Kara.