Catnip for Dogs: Anxiety & Safety Issues: What You Should Know

herb for pets
(Last Updated On: July 8, 2021)

Almost everyone is familiar with the concept of catnip. The effect of catnip on cats is almost like the effect of drugs on humans. Catnip, known for its distinctive heart-shaped leaves and delicate pearl coloured flowers was often used as a home remedy for a variety of human ailments.

However, people use it as a great tool for training and entertaining cats as well. Little do most people know, catnip can also be used on dogs!

It’s important to note: Dogs do not respond to catnip in the same way that cats do. They actually get really sedated, the exact opposite of the frenzied reaction that cats get.

For dogs to react in the same way that cats do to catnip, it involves another herb called the anise plant. In fact, both of these varieties actually offer different health benefits and effects on dogs.

What is catnip like for dogs?

Catnip does not have the same effect on dogs as it does on cats. When dogs consume catnip, they experience a sedative effect. Your dog can also get some important vitamins and minerals from catnip. Some most prominent examples include Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Magnesium.

Additionally, catnips are also a rich source of essential oils. This property helps maintain and regulate your dog’s energy levels throughout the day in order to prevent any abrupt crashes and spikes. This makes sure that your dog’s digestive functions operate smoothly and it can also help maintain a silky, glowy and healthy coat on your dog.

What does catnip do for dogs?

Not only can dogs consume catnip, they can actually derive several advantages from consuming it. Here are some ways that your dog can reap these canine benefits.

Relaxation and Help with Sleep

Your dog can often feel nervousness, whether it’s before a trip to the vet, or when its feeling tense while a groomer is trying to trim its nails. It could even be in situations like fireworks where dogs experience high anxiety due to the loudness and clarity of the noise. Dogs can also potentially feel immense fear before the administration of medicine or treatment, much like a child would.

While catnip is well known for causing a frenzied reaction in felines, it has the direct opposite effect on dogs and its sedative effects can help calm and relax your dog in these particularly stressful situations.

If given an appropriate amount in the right framework, catnip can also help improve sleeping patterns in dogs and help them combat any sleep-related issues they may face.

Relieve car sickness

For many dogs, sitting in a car that’s speeding down the highway creates a strange sensation and causes them to feel disorientated, nauseous and even dizzy.

Some vets issue anti-nausea medications for these dogs but they often leave them a bit spaced out. For this issue, you can use catnip as a natural alternative to help resolve any motion-sickness that your dog may be experiencing.

Soothe Stomach Discomfort

Catnip belongs to the mint family and has historically been used to provide digestive aid in humans by soothing ailments such as heartburn and flatulence. Similarly, this minty herb can also help relieve stomach aches in dogs as well. This includes using catnip to help your dog in its bouts of indigestion,diarrhea, vomiting or gas.

Antiseptic Properties

People often use Catnip to treat wounds on dogs because of its antibacterial properties.

This includes thymol, an antiseptic compound in catnip that helps treat external wounds. You may choose to use fresh catnip or catnip oil to apply on any cut, scratches or sores that may be affecting your dog.

A Type of Insect Repellent

Catnip is a very effective insect repellent. Researchers at Iowa State University have found that the essential oil in catnip that gives the plant its distinguishing odor is about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, a compound that is commonly used in most commercial insect repellents.

Use catnip to deter both mosquitoes and fleas, both common pests to dogs. However, before using catnip oil for this purpose, it would be best to consult a professional veterinary herbalist. Get the best advice on how to create an ideal catnip oil spray and also ensure the safety of your dog.

Promotes Urination

People often use Catnip as a diuretic and they have the same purpose for dogs. Catnip oil promotes urination which can help relieve the body of surplus water and also flush toxins like uric acid or waste from colds or allergies.

Hence, a small amount of catnip will help regulate your dog’s system, as it does with humans, but as always, it is important to make sure that you don’t give your dog too much.

What is the catnip equivalent for dogs?

Cats usually consume Nepeta cataria. It’s also called cat-wort or cat-mint, which is closely related to the mint family. However, people often consider other strains including Camphor, Greek, Lemon and Persian catnip. Cats become relaxed when they consume catnip.

They get very excitable, their pupils dilate and they just get very chilled out. An ingredient known as nepetalactone is responsible for this behavior in your feline. However, for dogs, the catnip equivalent is actually another herb called anise.

Anise, also sometimes called fennel, is a licorice-tasting spice that people either usually really like or really dislike. It is used as an ingredient in absinthe and belongs to the carrots and parsley family. Dogs go crazy for anise seeds, just as cats go wild for catnip.

In fact, this anise seed extract is used in the lures that hunting and racing dogs chase across fields. However, it is important to limit the amount of anise that dogs are exposed to. A larger quantity of anise seed extract can rile up a dog’s stomach or slightly depress its nervous system, leading to potential problems for the canine.

How long does it take for catnip to affect dogs

Similar to most herbs, catnip takes around 30 minutes to become effective.  Hence to get the most out of the effects of catnip, you should administer it at least one-half hour before whatever you are using the catnip for, including using it for calming effects or reducing motion sickness.

Usage of Catnip for Dogs

There are several ways you can give dogs catnip, including ways that involve ingesting it and simply using essential oils. These are some methods you can use to give your dog the catnip.

Mix with its dog food

To give your dog some catnip, you can simply incorporate some dried catnip into its food. You can do this by mixing ⅛ to ½ teaspoons worth of dried catnip per pound of dog food.

Mix with water or create tea

If you prefer not to mix it with your dog’s food, you can also mix it with water. You can give your dog water containing fresh leaves of catnip. On the other hand, you can also make catnip tea made from the leaves and flowers of the plant and give it to your dog.

Use Anise essential oil on your dog’s toys

Without making your dog consume anise, you can reap the same benefits by using a small single drop of oil to scent the inside stuffing of a toy. It is important to use only this small amount because any more than this and it can end up harming your dog.

Similarly, you should never allow you dog to ingest anise essential oil and you should also never put anise essential oil directly on your dog’s skin.

Making dog treats with anise seeds

While you should never give your dog anise essential oil, you can feed your dog some anise seeds. You can create some dog treats with anise seeds and feed them to your dog. This includes making things like carrot anise cookies or even liver anise canine brownies. You can look up some recipes and make these treats for your dog.

How to grow catnip indoors: Important Tips to Know


Catnip for dogs can be a great thing to give to your canine friend especially because it offers a wide variety of benefits. Its calming properties can potentially make stressful situations for your dog into less problematic experiences and can also make it healthier by soothing any ailments and even offering vitamins and minerals.

It is also relatively easy to access and to administer for your dog. However, while this is all highly beneficial for your dog, it is important to be careful with the dosage. Administering too high a dosage for your dog can end up hurting it instead and all positive aspects of it would be negated. This is the same when it comes to giving your dog anise.

While it is great to give this as a treat to your dog and offer it a good time, it is immensely important to exercise caution in the dosage that you give to your pet!

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