Tea tree oil, a volatile oil, is well known for its broad antibacterial and antifungal activity. A standardised and stabilised 10% tea tree oil cream was tested against a commercial skin care cream (control cream) in the management of canine localised acute and chronic dermatitis. Fifty-seven dogs with clinical manifestations of mostly pruritic skin lesions or alterations, skin fold pyodermas and other forms of dermatitis, corroborated by predominantly positive fungal and bacterial skin isolates, were enrolled by seven practising veterinarians and randomly allocated to two study groups (28:29) and were treated twice daily with a blinded topical preparation. After 10 days of treatment, success rates of 71% for the tea tree oil cream and 41% for the control cream (over-all efficacy documented by the veterinary investigator) differed significantly (p = 0.04), favouring tea tree oil cream treatment. Accordingly on day 10, the tea tree oil cream caused significantly faster relief than the control cream (p = 0.04) for two common clinical dermatitis signs, pruritus (occurring in 84 % of dogs) and alopecia. Only one adverse event was reported in the tea tree oil group (suspected not to be causally related to the study drug) and none in the control cream group. The tested herbal cream appears to be a fast-acting safe alternative to conventional therapy for symptomatic treatment of canine localised dermatitis with pruritus.