Does Catnip Affect Dogs? Effects and Benefits - Zach's Pet Shop

Does catnip affect dogs? Many pet parents wonder about the effects of catnip on their canine companions, especially considering the dramatic response it elicits in cats. But while catnip sends most felines into a frenzy of playful antics, it doesn't quite have the same impact on dogs.

Does catnip affect dogs in the same way as it affects cats? The simple answer is no. Although it won’t cause your pup to roll around in ecstasy, catnip can have subtle effects and potential benefits for dogs.

Some dog owners report using catnip for dogs with anxiety to help their pups relax. Always check with your veterinarian before giving catnip to your dog, especially if your dog is on medication or has health concerns.

Table Of Contents:

Understanding Catnip

Catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, is a herbaceous plant from the mint family (Lamiaceae). Catnip's appeal to cats lies in the active ingredient called nepetalactone, which is released when the plant's leaves, stems, or seeds are crushed or bruised.

Cats, with their sensitive vomeronasal organ (located in the back of their nose), are highly attuned to this aroma. Catnip acts on their brain in a way similar to pheromones, often inducing a euphoric "high."

The reactions can vary: Some cats become hyperactive and playful, others chilled out and relaxed, while some don't react at all.

It’s all perfectly safe, though – the effects are temporary, wearing off in about 10-15 minutes.

How Does Catnip Affect Dogs?

While cats and kittens love catnip, the good news is it’s also generally safe for dogs, both in its fresh and dried forms, according to veterinarian Tina Wismer from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

However, the effect of catnip on dogs is quite different. Rather than making them playful like cats, catnip is known to have a calming effect on many canines.

Does Catnip Sedate Dogs?

While not all dogs are affected by catnip, many dogs experience a mild sedative effect. Veterinarians have observed that catnip can promote relaxation and ease separation anxiety in some dogs.

This is because, while dogs do have a vomeronasal organ, they don’t respond to catnip in the same way as felines. So, instead of experiencing the playful good time, they often mellow out.

It can be effective training for dogs who get anxious in certain situations like during fireworks or visits to the vet.

Possible Dog Health Benefits

Catnip's calming effects are well-known, but what about our furry friends on the other side of the species divide? Do they feel it too? It seems so.

Some dog owners and pet care experts have reported anecdotal evidence of its positive impact on digestion. Some believe it can aid with upset stomachs, relieve gas, and even help with diarrhea, although these benefits have not been extensively studied.

If you're curious about whether catnip can provide benefits to your furry friend, consult your veterinarian.

How to Give Your Dog Catnip

If you think your dog might benefit from catnip, you can try giving it to them in small amounts. A commonly recommended amount is about ⅛ to ½ teaspoon sprinkled on their food. Some pet owners put a few fresh catnip leaves in their dog’s drinking water bowl.

For more creative ways, you can sprinkle catnip on a snuffle mat or use catnip toys . Don’t go overboard with catnip; start small and see how your dog responds.

Remember, while generally considered safe, dried catnip isn't a cure-all. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your dog's health or behaviour.

Catnip growing in the wild

Other Interesting Catnip Facts

Besides its effects on pets, catnip has other interesting qualities.

Catnip essential oil has also been found to be an effective insect repellent. A study by Iowa State University found that nepetalactone is a natural mosquito repellent that's even more powerful than DEET in some cases.

Research in Chemical and Engineering News reveals that in some instances, it was ten times more potent.


FAQ 1: What will catnip do to a dog?

While catnip makes cats go wild, it can have a mild sedative effect on dogs. Many dog owners find that catnip helps their pups relax in stressful situations. Think car trips, fireworks or vet visits.

FAQ 2: Does catnip calm dogs down?

Yes, many pet owners report that catnip toys have a calming effect on dogs. If you have an anxious pup, it might be worth giving a small amount of catnip a try, especially before stressful events. But remember, always talk to your vet first.

FAQ 3: Is there a dog version of catnip?

While there's no herb specifically marketed as “dognip”, some dogs respond to the smell of anise, also called aniseed. Veterinarian Dr. Lindsey Wendt suggests that anise might provide similar calming or stimulating effects for certain dogs.

Catnip benefits dogs in some cases but has no effect in others.

FAQ 4: Do dogs smell or eat catnip?

Dogs may sniff at catnip plants and exhibit mild interest in the aroma. They might even eat a little.

Just like cats, a dog's potential reaction to catnip can vary. But don't worry, eating a small amount of catnip is generally safe for them.

Ian's Wrap

So, does catnip affect dogs? While it might not unleash the crazy antics you see in cats, this fascinating herb has its place in the world of dogs, too.

It’s mainly known for its calming and relaxing properties, potentially offering benefits for pups experiencing anxiety.

It’s believed to be a safe, natural alternative for stressful events. But always consult your vet before using it, particularly if your furry friend has any underlying health issues or takes regular medication.

Pet Expert - Ian Hamblin

About Ian

Ian Hamblin is a renowned pet enthusiast and the driving force behind Zach's Pet Shop, a trusted name in the Australian pet industry.
With an impressive track record of nearly 15 years, Ian has been supplying high-quality pet products to Australians, earning their trust and loyalty.
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