Tea Tree Oil – Safety Alert

Alternative health care, herbal cures, and natural remedies are clearly important to me and my birds. I first became interested in these topics while living in the San Francisco Bay Area and visiting herbalists, reflexologists, iridologists, and other natural health practitioners. As a result, when my birds need therapy, I usually seek to alternate remedies first. Fortunately, I also check beforehand to confirm that everything I’m contemplating using is safe for birds. It is important to remember that just because something is “natural,” it does not necessarily imply that it is completely safe or acceptable for birds.

Valentino, my lovebird, had a “owie” on his back, a very raw skin patch, and I wanted to clean and treat it. Normally, I use Aloe Vera and/or Cayenne tincture, but I had just been given a bottle of Tea Tree Oil for a skin condition and thought it could be beneficial for ‘Tino. THANK GOD I double-checked its safety for birds before using it on my little son.

Upon research, I found that Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Oil) is similar in structure and action to turpentine. Often used for its antibacterial and antifungal properties in both humans and animals, it can cause toxicity if ingested. We are all aware that anything applied to our bird’s skin may and will be eaten to some extent while preening. It may also enter the body via the skin and cause systemic poisoning.

There have been cases of birds dying from Tea Tree Oil toxicity, as well as others being rescued by prompt emergency care. Despite the fact that many instances were caused by utilizing very high doses, one case included just one drop of oil applied to a bleeding blood feather. So, I decided NOT to treat my lovebird’s skin injury with Tea Tree Oil. Use your discretion, but bear this toxicity in mind before using it on your own birds!

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