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Acute tea tree oil intoxication in a pet cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus): A case report

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Background: Phytotherapy is becoming a more and more common practice, not only for personal care but also for pet care. Nevertheless, we often have to deal with substances on which, in most cases, very little literature is available, even more so if the species of interest are the exotic ones. In particular, the essential oil from the Melaleuca leaves, because of its antinflammatory and antibacterial properties, is widely used and very little is known about its potential toxicity on pet birds. The present paper describes the first case of Tea tree oil intoxication in a pet bird. Case presentation: A one-year-old, 80 g male cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) was presented for clinical examination due to a serious despondency episode after the application of 3 drops of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifoglia) directly on the cutis of its right wing. The subject was urgently hospitalized and blood tests were performed.Serum biochemical values showed severe liver damage and slight renal involvement, complete blood count (CBC) parameters indicated a moderate neutrophilia a moderate neutropenia. Warm subcutaneous fluids and vitamin (VIT) B12 were administered, and after 8 h of fluid therapy the clinical condition of the patient improved. The subject was discharged after 48 h of hospitalization, in stable conditions. Conclusions: Toxicosis are relatively common in bird pets and a number of cases are reported in literature, concerning heavy metals intoxications and toxic plants ingestion. However, in literature there are no described cases regarding Melaleuca oil intoxication in pet birds, but it has been reported in humans (mainly by ingestion) as well as in dogs, cats and rats. We hope that this first case report can be an initial aid in the knowledge of this potential toxicosis and therefore in the clinical veterinary practice of pet birds.




Vetere, A., Bertocchi, M., Pelizzone, I., Moggia, E., Travaglino, C., Della Grotta, M., … Di Ianni, F. (2020). Acute tea tree oil intoxication in a pet cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus): A case report. BMC Veterinary Research, 16(1).

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