When mites attack the family dog, the owner should act quickly. Chemicals and sprays can deter mites but many dog owners prefer to investigate natural remedies, such as tea tree oil, to treat the dog for ear mites. Once the dog owner notices that mites have developed she should begin treatment immediately, both for the dog's comfort and to prevent the mites from spreading. Treating canine mites with tea tree oil offers one effective treatment for getting rid of the mites.
What Are Mites?
Mites live freely on many animals in small amounts without causing problems. When they attach to a dog with a weakened immune system, the dog's inability to defend itself causes the mites to proliferate and infest the dog's body. Mites will itch, and the dog's subsequent scratching can lead to sarcoptic, cheyletiella or demodectic mange, as the scratching causes the mites to burrow into the dog's body. The type of mange depends on the species of mite that causes the mange.
Symptoms and Effects of Mites in Dogs
Mites cause inflammation, hair loss and itching in infected dogs. Dog owners should check a dog who scratches incessantly to see if the scratching has caused scabs or crusty skin to develop. These signs characterize mite-caused mange which many dog-owners manage successfully through the application of tea tree oil.
Tea Tree Oil
The "Tea Tree" (Melaleuca alternifolia) plant of Australia produces an essential oil which can treat a variety of skin ailments, both in humans and in animals. Tea Tree Oil repels canine mites. Once the dog is rid of the mites, the dog's skin can revert to its natural state and the scabs, sores and itching of mange can clear.
Applying Tea Tree Oil to a Dog with Mites
Dog owners can dilute tea tree oil with other liquids (oils, water or shampoos) and apply it to the dog by rubbing it into the dog's ears and skin, during a bath or after bathing the dog. Dog owners can also use the diluted tea tree oil as a spray by spraying it onto the dog and then rubbing it into the dog's body.
Where to Obtain Tea Tree Oil
Many drug stores and pharmacies carry tea tree oil tinctures. Additionally, companies such as Tea Tree Place (teatreeplace.com), Tea Tree Oil Uses (teatreeoiluses.com/order.htm) and Thursday Plantation (thursdayplantation.com/) provide clients with the option of ordering tea tree oil through the Internet. Look at the cineole and terpinen (active ingredients) percentage on the content label of the tea tree oil. Good quality tea tree oils should have a high terpinen-4-ol content (terpinen-4-ol activates the tea tree oil's antimicrobial activity) and should have a low cineole content (tea tree oil with a high cineole content can cause skin irritation). Australia, which produces tea tree oil, requires the terpinen-4-ol number to show a 30 percent minimum and the cineole number to show a 15 percent maximum.
dog image by Michal Tudek from Fotolia.com
Laurie Rappeport is a writer and blogger with more than 10 years of experience. Her areas of expertise are in education, child development, travel, pets, nutrition and health for Demand Studios and a major travel website. Rappeport holds a Master of Arts degree from Wayne State University.