Do dogs like catnip

Dogs And Catnip – Is Catnip Bad For Dogs

Cats and dogs are opposite in so many ways that it is no surprise that they react differently to catnip. While cats delight in the herb, rolling in it and becoming almost giddy, dogs do not. So is catnip bad for dogs? Can dogs eat catnip? Read on for answers to your questions about dogs and catnip.

About Dogs and Catnip

If your dog shows some interest in your catnip plants, don’t expect the same ecstatic reaction to the herb that felines demonstrate. Cats get a buzz from catnip, while dogs do not. But that doesn’t mean that dogs and catnip should be kept apart.

If you have a catnip plant and dogs, it’s likely you’ll see your dogs in catnip plants sooner or later. But should dogs get near catnip? There is no harm in allowing dogs in catnip plants as long as you don’t expect them to go into raptures. While your dogs will not react to catnip like your cats do, the herb offers canines benefits too.

Catnip is an herbaceous plant from the mint family that can cause sleepiness. Your canines can sniff the leaves and feel a little sleepy. But they may also seem completely indifferent. Expect different reactions from different dogs in catnip plants.

Is Catnip Bad for Dogs?

Many pet owners wonder: Is catnip bad for dogs? And, more particularly, can dogs eat catnip without experiencing health issues? The simple answer is that sniffing or rolling in the herb or even licking or eating some will not hurt your pet.

In fact, you can use catnip as a home health remedy for your dog. For example, if you feed your dog some catnip before a trip to the vet, it can be a safe and gentle way to relax Fido. The herb can also help with car sickness and stomach upsets.

Finally, dogs can benefit from catnip if you prepare essential oil from the plant and apply it to their skin. Catnip oil is 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than the compound used in most commercial insect repellents, and is effective against fleas too.

If you’re a cat owner, or have ever been one during any stage of your life before, then chances are you’ve experienced first hand (or have at least heard/read about it somewhere) what a catnip plant is capable of doing to our beloved little cats.

However, we’re not here today to talk about catnip for cats , we’re here today to talk about catnip for dogs, whether or not dogs can eat catnip, what effects catnip has on dogs, whether or not dogs actually like catnip, and a bunch of other information you should be in the know about concerning this minty plant.

Catnip For Dogs: Can Dogs Eat Catnip? Or Is Catnip Bad For Dogs?

The short answer to this question is, YES, dogs can be given Catnip, under the right circumstances and conditions – but you have to always keep in mind that it has a sedative effect that’s very likely to take over your dog when they consume it.

According to ScienceBlogs, catnip does not have the same identical effect on dogs as it has on cats, and something like the anise plant has more of a similar effect, but that’s just for general informational purposes you should know about.

If given to dogs to eat in the right amounts and under the right circumstances, Catnip can actually have many benefits to offer dogs that may need it for different reasons and won’t be harmful to them at all.

The following list covers some of the most important health and nutritional benefits that Catnip (also known as the Nepeta Cataria ) is known to have, ones that your dog may very well be able to benefit from to a certain degree.

Vitamins And Minerals: Catnip is known to be a rich source of a wide variety of different vitamins and minerals, most notable of which are Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Magnesium, just to name a few of the most prominent ones.

Essential Oils: Catnip is also known to be a rich source in essential oils that are necessary to keep your dog’s energy levels properly maintained throughout the day in order to prevent sudden crashes and spikes, help your dog’s digestive system functions remain smooth and help your dog maintain a silky, glowing and healthy coat.

What Does Catnip Do To Dogs? Does Catnip Affect Dogs At All?

If you’re wondering what kind of physical effects Catnip has on dogs, and whether or not these effects are anything like the ones you already know about Catnip and cats, then this list has you covered with what you should know about.

It’s a well known fact by now that Catnip acts as a very effective stimulant when given to cats, however this is not the case for dogs – the case is quite the opposite as Catnip acts as a sedative when given to dogs.

Before we kick off this list, though, it must be said that a fair percentage of dog owners claim that their dogs aren’t affected at all after being given Catnip, so it seems to be a relative issue where some dogs are receptive to it and feel the effects it has to offer, while other dogs are just not receptive to it at all.

Calmative: One of the most common effects that’s sought after with dog owners that give their dogs Catnip is the calmative (also known as sedative) effect that comes along.

Here are a few example cases for when the sedative effect of Catnip can be useful for dogs.

– Dogs that experience strong episodes of anxiety when, for example, fireworks are being played somewhere close outside and the noise is loud and clear

– Dogs that display very strong signs of fear when having to take their medicine/treatment in the form of an injection

These are just two examples of many, many possible cases where a sedative effect of Catnip can come in handy with a nervous, anxious and fearful dog that needs intervention on the spot to get back to normal.

Help With Sleep: Much related to the calmative effect discussed above, Catnip given in the right framework and right dosages can greatly help improve sleeping patterns of dogs and solve any related problems they might be experiencing.

Gastrointestinal Upset: One of the many ingredients dog owners have found useful over the years to give their dogs when they’re suffering from any form of gastrointestinal upset and a troubled stomach is Catnip.

Whether your dog has a bad case of diarrhea, is emptying their troubled system through vomiting or is just passing some nasty excessive gas, Catnip has properties that can help in all of these cases.

Natural Wound Healer: Another very useful tip many dog owners apply is using Catnip to tread wounds/cuts that dogs may suffer from, thanks to the antibacterial properties that this plant contains.

The two most common forms of Catnip that dog owners use to heal external wounds and cuts on their dogs are Catnip in its oil form and Catnip in its natural form.

Mosquito Repellent: Another very useful tip many dog owners like to put into practice is making use of Catnip on their dogs in order to benefit from the properties it contains that allow it to act as a very powerful mosquito repellent .

Of course, depending on the area you live in and where your dog spends most of their time, this tip may or may not be very beneficial to you.

How Can Dogs Have Catnip?

For whatever reason you may be considering giving your dog Catnip, there are several different ways you can go about doing this, and we’ve covered the easiest and most common ways in the list below.

Mixed With Food: One of the most common and easiest ways that dog owners like to give their dogs Catnip in is by mixing the specific dosage with a meal of dog food that their dog is having at the time.

This can very easily be done if you buy a bag of ground Catnip that you can sprinkle whatever dose they require on their food and easily mix it in afterwards, as suggested in this article by VetInfo.

A general recommendation that’s often suggested if you plan on giving your dog Catnip with their food is to add anywhere from 1/8 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon to their food for every one pound of dog food they’re eating.

This can also be done if you choose to get Catnip in the form of oil and add in whatever dosage your dog requires into their food and mix them as well.

Mixed With Water: Other dog owners prefer not to mix Catnip with their dog’s food, but rather add a few leaves to their dog’s water bowl and let them reap the effects of this plant that way.

How Much Catnip Can My Dog Have?

As we always say whenever the subject of dosages is brought up in the conversation, you should ALWAYS, first and foremost, talk to your veterinarian about this.

Discuss with your veterinarian why you’re considering giving your dog Catnip in the first place, let them know of what your goal from doing this is, let them know of any health issues your dog is currently going through, any medication they’re currently taking, etc ..

These issues and a whole other stuff that’s bound to get brought up in the conversation (or they’ll ask you by themselves) will make it much easier for them to tell you whether giving your dog Catnip in the first place is a good idea or not, and how much of it you should be giving your dog to avoid any health complications that may have otherwise developed down the line.

Not only will excessive amounts of Catnip given to your dog cause several different health problems with time, this will also lead to digestive system trouble in no time.

One of the reasons why Catnip is given to dogs to begin with is to relieve different forms of gastrointestinal upset, but given to them in excessive amounts, Catnip will be a cause of gastrointestinal upset rather than a form of help.

When Should I Not Give My Dog Catnip On My Own?

One of the most important notes that must be made when it comes to catnip and dogs is that you should never attempt to give your dog any dose of Catnip on your own if you’re doing so for a medical reason.

Any amount of Catnip given to dogs for any medical reason that may be should always be approved and supervised by a veterinarian beforehand.

You should also be very careful not to give your dog any Catnip in the following cases.

– Your dog is currently taking medication that may cause conflict with Catnip (this is something your veterinarian should let you know about after you talk to them about giving Catnip to your dog)

– Your dog is pregnant

– Your dog is lactating


1. How Does Catnip Work Its Magic on Cats?

2.Nepeta cataria

4. Natural remedies for anxious dogs

5. Do mosquitoes bite dogs

My Dog Ate Catnip!

When my dog ate catnip, immediately I wondered if he was going to start running around like a nut or whether, instead, he’d die. I had no idea what to expect. I think you will feel rest-assured after we discuss a few things.

  • It won’t poison your dog! Most dogs have no negative reaction at all. At the most there may be some upset stomach but nothing major. That would also only be if he ate A LOT of it. My dog managed to eat the cat’s two catnip mice. No problem. His stool was a bit runny the next day but nothing of major concern.
  • He might start sneezing but that will be the worst of it. You won’t see your dog get overly sick and sneezing to the point of not being able to do anything else. It may seem more like he got dust in his nose. Basically, depending on where the catnip was when he accessed it, it very well could be from the catnip going into his nostrils. Was it loose in a bag or was it part of a mouse that stayed together for the most part. If he chewed the mouse to shreds then he probably got some catnip in his nose!
  • It would be a good idea to double-check when you purchase catnip or a catnip toy for your cat that you buy natural, non-sprayed catnip. You always take a chance of something unknown being in the product if it’s been sprayed with something for whatever reason. If you start out buying the catnip in a more natural state, you’ll have less of a chance of your dog getting stomach upset if he does decide to pursue it.
  • You may find catnip to have the same effect on your dog as it does on your cat. If your dog starts running around and going crazy (but happy), then you get a 2 for 1 deal when it comes to toys for your animals. You may need to buy a more sturdy one for your dog, though!
  • You can make your own “dognip” toy by taking the stuffing out of a normal dog toy and re-stuffing it with anise seeds or anise extract. This makes a WONDERFUL, cheap toy. Especially if you have some extra toys lying around that have seen better stuffing days. It’s a great way to recycle.
  • If you do notice that your dog is getting fatigued and sick a lot, and that catnip doesn’t seem to be the real problem, you may need to inspect your dog food choices for him. There are lots of dog foods that aren’t safe and you may be seeing the symptoms of that. It takes some time to research the foods but make sure you take the time to do it.

Our first-responders are there when animals need them most

Prevent Accidental Poisonings

Be Careful What You Plant

Although plants provide clean air and immense beauty, many are also poisonous to pets. Plants that are not toxic to people, like the hibiscus, those in the Easter lily family, mistletoe, and Dieffenbachia may cause medical problems in pets, such as renal failure, irregular heartbeats, cardiac shock and even death. Other examples of toxic plants include azalea, oleander, castor bean, sago palm, azalea, rhododendron and Japanese yew.

If you have these plants and cannot stand the thought of giving them up, place them in an unreachable location so the animal cannot chew or dig them up.

Another solution is the use of an indoor mini-lawn for catsí nibbling. While outside grass can be loaded with deadly fertilizers and pesticides, an indoor mini-lawn provides a safe, edible source of greenery. Special feline gardens are available commercially or you can start your own kitty garden using a bowl, soil and grass seed.

You can grow catnip too, but monitor how much your cat chews. While catnip generally isn’t toxic to cats, too much of the fresh plant can overstimulate the central nervous system and cause a cat to injure himself.

If your pet does chew on a plant, immediately remove the plant from its mouth and rinse the mouth gently with water. Identify the plant your pet ate and call the poison center or your veterinarian. Watch for excessive or foamy salivation and changes in the skin around the mouth, eyes or paws.

People Foods, Chemicals and Medications

People often make the mistake of thinking that people food is okay for pets. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it is not. Here are some foods to avoid giving to your pets.

  • Milk is not easily digested by most adult animals and can cause them to develop diarrhea.
  • Bones are very dangerous. They can lodge in a dog’s passageways or cut its intestines.
  • Chocolate, especially baking chocolate, can be lethal and should be avoided at all times.
  • Onions can destroy a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia.
  • Rich, fatty foods such as turkey skins or gravy can cause pancreatitis, and inflammation of a digestive gland, and can be very painful and serious.
  • Grapes and raisins can lead to loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and acute renal failure in dogs, resulting in death.
  • Coffee is also dangerous to animals. Watch out for grounds and whole beans.
  • Nicotine is a stimulant that can increase the heart rate, leading to collapse, and in the worst case, death.
  • Alcoholic beverages should be kept away from animals at all times.

Also, be as vigilant at poison-proofing your house for a pet as you would be for a child. Keep cleaning products in a high, closed cabinet. There should be nothing below counter level because liquid drain cleaners, as well as tub and tile cleaners, can be lethal. Also, take precautions in the garage — bags of insecticide and auto care liquids need to be stored high off the ground.

Another critical step in avoiding pet poisonings is to read labels. Flea control is commonly labeled specifically for dogs or cats. This is because the agents used for dogs are not safe for cats. Follow the label directions and amounts correctly.

Some pet owners may mistakenly think that the medications used to treat human symptoms will work for animals, as well. Never give your animal a human medication. Even something as simple as aspirin can be lethal to your pet. Products such as acetaminophen and any aspirin product can cause stomach bleeding in your pet. Medications such as birth control and vitamins can also cause internal bleeding.

Cats tend to be attracted to unusual flavors, so keep them away from calamine lotion, diaper rash ointments, sunblock and analgesic ointments. These products contain an acid related to those in aspirin and will prove toxic if ingested.

And remember, administer only medications prescribed or approved by your veterinarian.

Preventing Intentional Poisonings

According to the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC), an average of 200 dogs per year are poisoned intentionally. While this represents less than one half of one percent of calls the center receives annually, it remains a problem that can be addressed through owner awareness.

In many cases of intentional poisoning, an animal has disturbed a neighbor or relative, and as retaliation, the animal is poisoned. What can pet owners do to prevent this? If you know you have a problem with a neighbor or relative, try to work it out with him or her. For example, if your dog is barking in the middle of the night, it may become a problem that others attempt to solve themselves. Showing your neighbors respect will go a long way. However, if you suspect your dog is at risk, don’t hesitate to contact authorities. Also, make sure to keep your dog in sight at all times.

One of the first measures to take if you suspect your animal may be in danger of being poisoned is to observe your neighbors. See if their behavior reflects ill feelings toward your pet. If this is the case, talk to them.

Also, be on the lookout for foreign objects and food products in your yard. If you see something suspicious, call your vet or the NAPCC at (888) 426-4435. If you find food products, freeze a sample of them immediately. This preserves the substance for lab testing by authorities.

There are many things that can poison an animal. Pesticides and insecticides are common in cases of intentional and accidental poisonings. Rodent poisons are also common. If you suspect these substances were used, look for bluish-green pellets in areas frequented by your pet, as well as in its stool.

Because animals are attracted to its sweet taste, antifreeze can easily be used to taint an animal’s food or drink. In cases of antifreeze ingestion, look for florescent green vomit. Also, switching to a low-toxicity brand of antifreeze can help reduce the risk of a fatal poisoning.

What To Do if Your Pet is Poisoned

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, what can you do to increase its chances for survival?

Be prepared

Post your veterinarian’s telephone number in a convenient location. You should also post the address and number of a nearby emergency clinic, along with the number of the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC), which is (888) 426-4435.

Because neighborhood veterinary clinics rarely see poisonings, the NAPCC is a unique resource for both pet owners and veterinarians. They employ a staff of veterinarians and licensed technicians who are skilled in veterinary toxicology and are available 24 hours a day. The NAPCC can provide very detailed treatment protocols to your veterinarian.

Take immediate action

If your pet ingests poison, make sure to observe the animal closely. To treat a poisoning successfully, it’s helpful to have a history of your pet’s symptoms, including when the symptoms were first noticed, where the animal has been in the past few hours, and whether anything has been seen in the yard (pieces of uneaten meat, any vomit with discoloration), or passed through the stool.

Provide a history

Providing a detailed history of symptoms to your veterinarian is critical. Immediately collect and preserve any vomit, food products you may find, medication bottles and stool samples to help your vet rule out or determine intentional poisoning. Freezing vomit and stool samples is the best method to preserve them as evidence. You can do this yourself, or take it to your vet to freeze and later send to a laboratory for testing.

As a concerned pet owner, it’s up to you to provide your vet with information that could potentially save your pet’s life. Symptoms are important as they allow vets to work backward and figure out the cause. Only after other explanations can be ruled out can your vet explore the idea that someone may have maliciously poisoned the animal.

Be aware

Following these steps may help save your animal’s life after an accidental or intentional poisoning. If you have cats, keep them indoors. If you have dogs, be aware of their surroundings and behavior and don’t let them roam free.

Quick answer: Yes, catnip is safe for dogs and is not toxic to dogs.

Catnip is the fragrant green leaf that will make some cats act a little nutty. The herb is a member of the mint family and can even be grown in your own backyard. Cats have various reactions to the herb, and one can often see them going crazy when given a sprinkle of catnip. While this can be an amazing distraction for the bored cat, what does catnip do when given to dogs? And is it safe?

The answer is yes, catnip is completely safe for dogs to ingest! The catch is that catnip has the complete opposite effect on dogs as it does on cats. While it acts as a very effective stimulant for cats, it is actually a sedative for dogs. For this reason, giving your dog catnip should only be under the right circumstances and conditions, and there are many resourceful ways to use catnip with your dog.


Catnip contains minerals such as magnesium, vitamins C and E, tannins and flavonoids. It also contains essential oils, which can help keep dogs’ digestive systems healthy and can help relieve any gastrointestinal upset. Here’s what you can use catnip for:

  • Catnip can be used to calm dogs that frequently experience bouts of anxiety whether it’s due to going to the vet or loud holidays.
  • It can help with sleep and, given in the right conditions, can improve sleeping patterns of dogs.
  • It can also be used as a natural antiseptic because it contains antibacterial and healing properties. Just apply fresh catnip to the minor external cut or scrape.

How to give your dog catnip

If you want to take full advantage of catnip’s many benefits you can sprinkle 1/8 to ½ a teaspoon of dried catnip on his food. You can also try putting a few fresh catnip leaves in his drinking water. Of course, this should not be done every day and always consult with your veterinarian first, especially if your pup has a medical condition that could be aggravated by catnip.

Common accidents and illnesses can add up, so signing up for pet insurance is essential when pets are young. Everything from soft tissue injuries to worm treatments can be covered up to 90%. Find out more by getting a free quote.

Can Dogs Get Buzzed on Catnip?

If you’ve ever spent any time on social media, you’ve seen the funny memes and pictures depicting the effect catnip has on cats. From being passed out next to catnip plants or a driveway filled with blissed out kitties, cats certainly don’t suffer any ill effects from this curious little herb. Can the same be said for dogs?

Catnip and Dogs

Catnip leads to some feline antics that make you absolutely crazy with laughter, but these effects can’t be reproduced in dogs. The mechanism that causes the “stoned” behavior in cats doesn’t work in a canine’s brain quite the same way.

Have you ever seen a cat when they smell catnip? They roll around in it, smell it, eat it…anything to get it in or on their bodies. Even big cats like tigers and lions aren’t immune to the euphoria catnip seems to produce in all kinds of felines.

When dogs are presented with catnip, they’ll probably smell it to get a sense of what it is, but that’s about as far as it goes. There isn’t any proof that dogs get that same sense of bliss that cats do. It certainly isn’t dangerous to your dog if they get into your cat’s stash; the biggest danger is your cat smelling it on their canine counterpart and demanding to know where theirs is!

Do Dogs Really Need to Get “High”?

In the veterinary circle, there’s a term called “dog joy”. It’s used to describe the insatiable joy dogs exude every day. Whether it’s you walking in the door from getting the mail or letting them up on the couch on movie night, everything makes dogs ecstatically happy. The same definitely can’t be said for cats. Between the two species, cats are definitely the grumpier half. Perhaps that’s why it’s so funny to see cats go absolutely crazy over their catnip?

What’s This About Anise for Dogs?

Many internet sources say if you want to give your dog the same high cats get from catnip, then you should give them anise. This herb smells like black licorice and has a very powerful smell. If you’ve had Italian cookies, you’ve probably tasted anise. It’s used in greyhound racing to scent the rabbit, too. While many dogs do get a buzz from anise, the ASPCA and its veterinarians don’t recommend giving it to dogs. Because it’s so potent, it’s prone to causing stomach upset. In large quantities, it causes central nervous depression, making your dog extremely lethargic, unresponsive, and overall sluggish.

Remember That Dogs Are Gross

Cats are a bit more fussy with what they think smells good, but dogs think even the most disgusting smells are something sent straight from doggy heaven. While there isn’t technically a “catnip equivalent” for dogs, do they really need something that sends them into a state of complete joy? From rotten food to nondescript things laying on the sidewalk, everything smells wonderful to your dog. If you’re looking to make them happy, remember the stinkiest items produce the best reactions.

So Are There Any Alternatives?

If you’re absolutely set on getting your dog “high”, don’t. Altering your dog’s state of consciousness doesn’t serve any purpose except to entertain you. While they may seem like they’re enjoying themselves, purposely getting them buzzed isn’t the nicest thing you can do for your dog. Give them a dollop of peanut butter, fill a hollow rubber toy with some spray cheese, or let them roll in something gross at the lake. All of these will make your dog incredibly happy–and keep them “drug” free!

When dogs play with catnip toys: This cute dog “thinks she’s a cat,” says the photographer, Ted Fu.

Most cats love catnip.

The nepetalactone in catnip makes cats react to this plant in different ways.1

Some cats go crazy over catnip, while others just enjoy a peaceful naptime from its effects. Catnip is neither addictive (despite what you may have heard) nor harmful to cats. But what about dogs?


Can I Give My Dog Catnip?

Although the name “catnip” itself makes us assume that it’s meant specifically for cats, catnip is fine for dogs, too.

So, yes, you can give your dog catnip without worry.

With its tranquilizing effect — yes, it can actually calm pets — catnip is a safe herbal remedy for dogs. You can use it to help with nervousness and sleeplessness in many animals.

Those long car trips or visits to the vet’s office may become less stressful to your dog if you sprinkle up to a teaspoon catnip onto the dog’s canned or dry food.

Of course, you shouldn’t do this every day, and you should discuss this with your veterinarian first.

According to 1,001 Old-Time Household Hints, giving a dog catnip may also relieve muscle spasms, diarrhea and minor respiratory problems.2

“Catnip is an ‘as-needed’ herb,” the book says. “Think of it as a natural medicine for your pet that can ease symptoms for specific conditions such as nervousness or gas.”

ADVERTISEMENT “Let the dog play with my toy? Are you out of your mind?” Photo: Fotobox_Petra0107

Can Dogs Play With Catnip Toys?

Although a little catnip is OK for dogs, catnip toys are not designed for dogs.

The danger in letting a dog play with a cat toy is that your dog could swallow squeakers, rattles, fillings or other teeny parts of a toy that was designed for smaller animals (cats) to play with.

According to Dr. Debra Primovic, DVM, eating the whole toy could become a foreign body — a serious problem.

“The concern is that many cat toys are small and some dogs like to ‘eat’ things, which can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction that could require surgery,” Dr. Primovic says.3

To keep your dog healthy and safe, do not leave cat toys (regardless of whether the toys contain catnip) lying around. Prevention is the best cure, so no catnip toys for your dog.

Wild aniseed — catnip for dogs. Photo: MabelAmber

Safe Ways You Can Give a Dog Catnip

Try rubbing a little catnip on a tennis ball to give your dog that extra push they need to play fetch.

And did you know there is actually a catnip made for dogs?

Was YOUR Pet Food Recalled?

Check Now: Blue Buffalo • Science Diet • Purina • Wellness • 4health • Canine Carry Outs • Friskies • Taste of the Wild • See 200+ more brands…


This herb, called anise (or aniseed — not to be confused with star anise), offers dogs the same enjoyment as catnip does for cats4.

Sprinkle a few drops of anise on one of your dog’s favorite fabric toys and see how your pet takes to it.

You can buy anise extract at many grocery stores, or you can find anise-flavored dog treat recipes and products online.

Be careful not to give your dog too much of this “dog catnip,” though.

According to Dogs Naturally, “The potency varies depending on whether the product is whole ground herb, an extract, granular concentrate or even an essential oil version of the herb, so it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.”

“If you buy human products, the dosing instructions are based on a 150 lb human, so just adjust the dosage for your dog’s weight,” Dogs Naturally says, adding: “This is a standard way to dose herbs and can be used for other herbal products as well.”5

And again, please consult your vet first.


+ Click to see the sources for this article.

Read This Next


Everyone has experienced a cat going crazy over catnip but did you know dogs like catnip too? Not all dogs (or cats for that matter) are noticeably affected by the Nepeta cataria plant, however some dogs do like catnip and they can get a few healthful benefits from from this delightful herb to boot!

A Healthy Herb

Catnip (known also as catmint and catswort) contains some healthful vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and E as well as magnesium and flavonoids. Catnip also contains some essential oils that will benefit your dog’s digestive system. You should always consult your veterinarian however, if you’re considering using catnip for medicinal purposes.


Catnip is a stimulant for cats but for dogs this herb has the opposite effect. Catnip makes them quite mellow, which is why it’s sometimes used as a dog sedative. For example, if your dog is extremely nervous when going to the vet, try putting some catnip leaves in his drinking water or sprinkling some on his food.

A Diuretic

Catnip is safe for your dog to sniff or even eat in small amounts. Sometimes used as a diuretic for people, catnip can also be utilized in the same manner for dogs. Catnip oil promotes urination which relieves the body of excess water and cleans out toxins like uric acid or wastes from colds or allergies. A small amount of catnip given to your dog can aid in keeping him regular but be careful to not give him too much of this herb.

Intestinal Maintenance

Gas, cramps, and flatulence. Dogs suffer from these stomach ailments just like we do. Catnip can help in remedying these ailments in both humans and dogs. It’s antispasmodic properties also can reduce cramps, spasms, diarrhea, and dyspepsia. A small amount of catnip as in catnip oil or catnip tea can calm a dog’s sick stomach and prevent vomiting.

A Natural Emmenagogue

I rarely use the “E” word but the meaning is catnip helps stimulate blood flow to the pelvic region and thus eases menstruation. It works wonders but catnip should never be given to a pregnant dog.

The Healing Herb

Thymol is contained in catnip. This compound can be used as an antiseptic and is ideal for external wound treatment. A dog’s sores, cuts and scratches can be treated with fresh catnip or catnip oil. Insect bites can also be treated with catnip which also has the power to repel mosquitoes.

In Conclusion…
The herbaceous plants cats love to go crazy about won’t make your dog act crazy or catty. You can allow your dog to sniff and eat small amounts of catnip with no worries. If your dog reacts at all he’ll probably become mellow and calm but results will vary with each unique canine personality.

By Tom Matteo


The Nest
Can I Give My Dog?

About the Author
Tom Matteo has been a freelance writer since 1992. He has written hardware and software reviews for computers and gaming systems, and now writes about animal behavior and care. Tom resides in Bethlehem, PA with his wife, Tina, and their beloved cockapoo, Angel.

Is Catnip Safe for Dogs and What are its Effects?

Catnip is harmless for dogs when given under veterinary guidance. Its sedative effects may help relieve travel anxiety in dogs. This DogAppy article throws some light on the positive effects of catnip on dogs.

Did You Know?

Due to its sedative properties, catnip can be used to treat sleeplessness in dogs.

Catnip is a herbal plant, and its extracts are used for people who have anxiety problems and difficulty falling sleep. In cats, catnip acts as a psychoactive drug, making them hyperactive. Cats get a sense of euphoria after consuming this plant. Considering its euphoric effect on cats, is it safe to give this herb to dogs? Are there any chances of dogs becoming aggressive after eating the herb? The following sections discuss the safety and impact of catnip on dogs?

Catnip Effects on Dogs

First of all, there is no harm in giving catnip to dogs. The herb is found to be safe, provided it is given in the right doses. Although catnip is harmless, does it have any positive effect on dogs, as observed in humans. That’s the discussion that follows.

Relieves Anxiety

Although catnip delivers a feeling of high in cats, dog reacts differently to its doses. So don’t expect your dog to roll around crazily (as noticed in cats) on the floor after giving it some catnip. The effect, surprisingly, is exactly the opposite in dogs, meaning, it makes them more calm and mellow. Catnip acts like a mild sedative, which can make them lethargic and even induce sleepiness. This calming effect of catnip in dogs can be helpful in the following situations:

It is observed that dogs tend to become anxious when traveling for long distances. For instance, car rides can be unsettling for some dogs. Your pet can also become stressful when taken on long haul flights. In such a scenario, feeding some catnip can be helpful to relieve anxiety considerably, and your pet will appear calm through the entire trip. In short, catnip may be helpful to mitigate travel anxiety. Nervousness in dogs after hearing noises of firecrackers or thunderstorms can also be treated by feeding some amount of catnip to them.

Digestive Aid

Catnip is considered a natural remedy for diarrhea in dogs. The herb displays antispasmodic properties, which can relieve cramping (spasmodic) and abdominal pain commonly associated with diarrhea. Catnip, with its gas-relieving properties, can also help treat digestion problems, such as bloating, that is marked by excess build-up of gas in the stomach.


Just mix ⅛ to ½ a tea spoon of dried catnip to every pound of dog food. Or else, giving water containing fresh leaves of catnip is another option. You can also feed catnip tea, that is made from the leaves and flowers of the plant.

Facilitates Wound Healing

Thymol, an important constituent of catnip, displays antimicrobial properties, as found out through several studies. It shows antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activities; so one can say that thymol-containing catnip acts a natural antiseptic, and applying it externally can help treat external wounds in dogs. Use a poultice made from the leaves, for external application.


Catnip oil is well-known for its diuretic nature, which can benefit humans and dogs alike. Dilute catnip essential oil with a carrier oil, and apply it through your dog’s fur. This helps stimulate urination, in turn promoting body detoxification.

Insect Repellent

Catnip essential oil also acts as an effective insect repellent. Insects like mosquitoes, fleas, lice, and ticks cannot withstand the smell of catnip. So applying this oil (a highly diluted formula) can certainly keep insects away from your dog’s skin.

Are Catnip Toys Safe for Dogs?

While feeding catnip is not a cause for concern, allowing your pet to play with catnip toys can spell trouble, as these toys are not suited for dogs. Most catnip toys are small, which can be ingested. So, your pet may unknowingly swallow the toy while playing with it and chewing it. This is a cause of serious concern, as it can cause intestinal obstruction. Moreover, there is the possibility that your canine pet may tear apart the toy and ingest all the catnip stuffed inside. This can be potentially dangerous and cause serious reactions. Also, constantly chewing the toy may eventually cause a negative reaction in some dog breeds over a period of time. So, to be on the safer side, it is best not to allow your dog to play with catnip toys.

On the whole, the use of catnip for dogs is for medical purpose only, and should not be used otherwise. For instance, when the dog is healthy and fine, mixing catnip with his food or water is not necessary. The occasional use of catnip is advised in dogs, that too after consulting with your veterinarian.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.

Like it? Share it!

What should you do if your dog eats catnip?

Anyone who has ever seen a cat zero in on catnip knows the effect the plant has on felines. But many people don’t realize that dogs like catnip, too. Catnip contains minerals such as magnesium, flavonoids, tannins and vitamins C and E. It also contains essential oils that help keep dogs’ digestive systems healthy. Always consult your veterinarian before giving dogs catnip as medicine.


Though catnip is a stimulant for cats, the plant has the opposite effect on dogs and is sometimes used as a sedative or nerve tonic for them. If your dog gets nervous when going to the vet or in the car, for example, try putting a few fresh catnip leaves in his drinking water. You can also sprinkle some dried catnip — 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon of per pound of food — on his food or mix in some catnip tea.


A popular use of catnip among people is as a diuretic, and catnip is sometimes used for the same purpose in dogs. Catnip oil promotes urination, thus relieving the body of extra water and toxins such as uric acid or waste from colds or allergies. A small amount of catnip also can keep a dog’s system regular but, as with people, be careful not to give too much.

Rescuing Riley, a puppy from the deep canyon in the wild Arizona !!

Rescuing Riley, a puppy from the deep canyon in the wild Arizona !!

Catnip Overdose

DEAR DR. FOX: My son has an 18-year-old male cat. The other night, he gave Dinker some catnip, which he has had before, but this time he had a little more than usual. Dinker was immediately unresponsive, lying down and not moving. My son thought he was going to have to put him down.

Dinker came around and has been fine ever since. Do you think the reaction was from the catnip, which he has always had without trouble? Because of his age, do you think it could have been a slight stroke or vertigo? — K.S., West Palm Beach, Florida

DEAR K.S., The moral of your son’s saga is: All things in moderation.

Soon after rolling in, and then eating, a small amount (one shredded teaspoon) of fresh catnip or catmint, my cats would often vomit, though usually keeping down the dried herbs. Then they’d roll in what remained on the floor, and then get squiggly, maybe batting at their tails, before zoning out for a while.

Catnip is the equivalent of Valium for most cats, but some show no interest. It makes for a relaxing tea for us humans, and also has some antispasmodic effects. I advise people to grow their own catnip, or only buy “Organically Certified,” since I have seen plastic packages of catnip in some stores indicating it comes from China.

For Dinker, I say just a pinch or two next time. Moisten it with a little water and let stand at room temperature for a few minutes first to draw out the volatile oils. Dinker may simply roll in the aroma and get “high” that way.

I say “high” not euphemistically or anthropomorphically. In the wild, many animal species — notably bears, baboons and elephants — will seek out fermented fruits, clearly enjoying the effects altering their states of consciousness and behavior. I do not think such experiences are essential for us to provide for companion animals, but olfactory-sensitive cats and dogs do enjoy different scents, such as dogs on walks being allowed to sniff to their brains’ content. Some dogs may also appreciate catnip, and I would enjoy hearing from other readers whose dogs do.

As for cannabis, which wild pigs especially relish, its use in veterinary medicine is increasing with its legalization for medical purposes. As this herb becomes accepted for recreational use in humans, companion animals should be kept away. Dogs, in particular, are often eager to eat cannabis plants or the dried herb. An overdose could cause respiratory depression and heart failure, especially in older animals.

When all is said and done, I think it is only we humans who need to lose our minds and come to our senses. Other members of the plant kingdom can help with that, as some psychotherapists are now exploring for such conditions as PTSD, dementia and depression.

DEAR DR. FOX: This is regarding your article about the use of bits on the horses at the recent royal wedding in London.

I do agree that bitless bridles can be excellent, but tossing of heads does not necessarily indicate discomfort in a horse. It does indicate excitement, and the forward position of the horses’ ears suggests that was the case.

These cossetted horses are not only cherished, but also get regular holidays away from London. They are taken to rural areas and given large pastures to roam and play in. Her Majesty the Queen is a fan and follower of Monty Roberts, aka the “Horse Whisperer,” and invited him to London to explain and demonstrate his training methods, which she adopted.

So while the horses you are concerned about are among the best cared for anywhere, I wish you would also comment in your column about the unspeakable government-backed cruelty being perpetrated here in the U.S. by the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM systematically terrorizes the wild mustangs in the northwest, herding them with helicopters, penning them, breaking up family groups and inducing panic, which leads to many broken legs. Slaughter is the final option for many of these beautiful horses.

It does not get into the news because journalists are mostly kept away from the horrific roundups; it does not make for palatable news coverage.

The House Appropriations Committee and the BLM will not allow the humane methods of sterilization that the supporters of the mustangs and burros have proposed. They have far more devastating methods to implement in the very near future.

Please read more about this from the American Wild Horse Campaign (

We have read your columns about cruelty to dogs and cats in certain Asian countries. Let’s deal with the horrors right here, and encourage your readers to take action immediately. — C.B., Hendersonville, North Carolina

DEAR C.B.: Yes, I am sure that all the queen’s horses are well cared for. But traditions always need to be examined when there is questionable suffering and available alternatives. One notable example from my native country is the old tradition of setting dog packs on foxes, deer and other dwindling wildlife species.

I invite readers of my column to visit and support efforts to bring compassion and respect for all life to bear on the policies and practices of wildlife and feral animal management by state and federal agencies.

(Send all mail to [email protected] or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Visit Dr. Fox’s website at

Common cat behavior around catnip.

Cat owners—and those that care about cats—know the power that catnip has on cats. If you own a cat and bring catnip into the house, no matter where you put it, the cat will find it.

Once the cat gets the catnip (aka catmint, nepeta) she/he will rub her/his head and shoulders on the plant, lie down on it or even dash about the house. Cats frequently chew on and eat catnip.

A report sought to explain why and how catmint affects cats. I eagerly read the report, having always been conflicted about giving catnip to my cats. Could they be killing brain cells by smelling or consuming catnip? Is it habit forming? Is catnip a gateway drug for cats?

This catnip/veterinary page was also helpful in answering my questions.

Nepetalactone is the ingredient in catmint—a member of the mint family—that makes cats crazy. Rather it makes 70% of cats crazy; about 30% of cats are unaffected by catnip.

In addition, your new kitten will most likely not respond to catnip (good news, as kittens are plenty wild without drugs). Generally kittens under 12 weeks of age are not affected by this plant.

Cats contact nepetalactone via their olfactory organs. It has been suggested that catnip affects cats in a pheromone-like manner. I defer to the experts and various links here for further explanation. Except to say that it would be cool if a cat could be hooked up to a fMRI scanner and given catnip, to see the regions of the brain that are affected. I asked an animal behaviorist about this, and she noted that it wouldn’t work very well, because cats don’t respond well to the “sit” command. The cat would need to stay very still for an fMRI scan to be done.

Nepeta sp.are a lovely, low spreading perennial in many parts of the world, including here in southern Wisconsin. Nepeta is native to Europe, not the US, but both the wild and cultivated forms grow happily here. Apparently some early settler to the New World cared enough about their cat to bring this favorite feline herb along.

Perennials including the “Walkers Low” variety of Nepeta sp.

I’m a gardener and am especially fond of perennial plants, so when the gardening staff of our fair city started using a lovely, low-growing plant with pretty silver-green leaves and a long-lived blue blossom, I took note. Learning that it was Nepeta sp., I visited a local greenhouse and bought a few plants. It was quickly apparent that this plant spread—by the next year it made some good-sized mounds in the garden.

Affect of Catnip on Dogs

I live in a mixed household and while the cats are indoors all the time, the dogs are free to wander the yard. Our next-door neighbors toss bread into their yards, which squirrels grab and “plant” in our garden. Thus the dogs are always sniffing through the plants, looking for the bits of bread.

Due to its spreading nature, more and more of those plants are Nepeta sp. Luckily this isn’t a problem, since catmint doesn’t affect dogs, right?

That’s what the experts say. The dogs and I know otherwise.

My indoor cats live vicariously through the dogs and their outdoor adventures. When we come back from a walk, the cats are always at the door, not to greet me but rather to sniff the dogs.

This is not a problem, normally. The dogs find the cats sniffing and climbing on them somewhat annoying, but the attention is usually tolerable and can be shaken off by the dog stepping away. The dogs and I walk in an area with fox, mink, etc., so it’s not surprising that the dogs carry scent home on their coats and feet.

On the other hand, bring a dog into the house that has walked through a patch of Nepeta sp. and you’ve got some serious cat attention going on. The affected dog is suddenly pursued by a cat intent on chewing or rolling on whatever foot has contacted the plant. The dogs recognize the seriousness of the cats’ intent and look worried.

The first time this happened, I was preparing for 4–5 hours away from the house. Seeing the cats persistence, I had visions of coming home to dogs with toes raw from cats chewing on them.

An action plan came to mind: “Need to remove oily substance from dog’s feet, safely and quickly.” A certain dishwashing liquid with a reputation for grease cutting seemed a cure. After a quick scrub I put the dog in a cat-proof room.

Affect of Catnip on Humans

While reading the catmint literature I was surprised to learn that this herb is a “natural sedative and digestive aid” when taken by cat owners (and other humans).

This lifehacker post describes how to make catnip tea, to enjoy such benefits.

Additional benefits are reported to include: Anesthetic, antibiotic, anti rheumatic, antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, relief of muscular aches and pains.

There are a number of types of Nepeta sp., varying in scent and flower color. Truly feline-conscious cat persons should note that the common catnip, Nepeta cataria with white flowers, is reputed to be the most appealing to cats.

However, please do not go to your garden, cut some catnip and make yourself a cup of tea, because:

  1. There are catnip and herbal experts; I am neither. Please seek the advice of an expert practicing herbalist before consuming any catnip or Nepeta sp.
  2. If you own cats, the herbalist can advise as to the best way to enjoy your cup of Nepeta tea without the risk of your cat trying to rub or chew on you during or afterwards.

The following two tabs change content below.

  • Bio
  • Latest Posts

Kari Kenefick

Kari has been a science writer/editor for Promega since 1996. Prior to that she enjoyed working in veterinary microbiology/immunology, and has an M.S. in Bacteriology, U of WI-Madison. Favorite topics include infectious disease, inflammation, aging, exercise, nutrition and personality traits. When not writing, she enjoys training her dogs in agility and obedience. About the practice of writing, as we say for cell-based assays, “add-mix-measure”.

Latest posts by Kari Kenefick (see all)

  • Enhancing Creativity: The Promega Employee Art Show 2020 – January 22, 2020
  • Improving Science Literacy for the New Decade – December 30, 2019
  • To Sleep, Perchance to Clean – November 13, 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *