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Is Catnip Bad for Dogs? [The Answer May Surprise You!]

Many of us have heard about catnip and how it makes cats crazy, but what happens if a dog gets ahold of some? Is catnip bad for dogs or is it safe? With so many families housing both cats and dogs, this situation is bound to arise. If your dog gets ahold of catnip should you worry? Luckily, the answer is no, although there is some concern. So what exactly will catnip do to your dog? Will it have any effect?

catnip plantWhat is Catnip?

We know that most cats go crazy for catnip, but why, what’s in it? Believe it or not, catnip is actually just one plant. Its botanical name is Nepeta cataria and it comes from the same family as the mint plant (Lamiaceae).

The essential oil extracted from the leaves and stem of the plant, nepetalactone, is the active ingredient in catnip responsible for sending most felines into a frenzy. 

Also referred to as “catmint”, catnip effects between 70-80% of cats (it’s hereditary!). The remaining 20-30% of cats and kittens under 6 months are unaffected.

Cat owners can use catnip for training purposes, stimulating the mind, promoting physical activity, and reducing anxiety.

If you want, you can purchase a catnip plant and add it to your garden.

However, most commonly you will find it dried out and incorporated into different cat products.

Did you know that catnip is not just beneficial for cats? It can provide benefits for dogs as well (and even humans).

But, what exactly will it do for a dog? Will it make dogs act like cats on catnip?



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dry catnipHow Does Catnip Affect Dogs?

Surprisingly, some canines actually like catnip, although, it will not send them into a euphoric state as it does for most cats. However, there are still many benefits dogs stand to gain. 

Like most other plants, catnip is comprised of different elements and many of them can be quite beneficial for canines. Catnip has vitamin C and E along with other minerals such as magnesium, flavonoids, and tannins.

Additionally, catnip contains beneficial essential oils. These elements can benefit dogs in the following ways:

Canine Sedative

Did you know, in general, catnip works as a stimulant for cats, but for dogs, it can be used as a sedative. Although, for this effect to take action the dog must ingest the catnip, rather than simply smell it.

This is easily achievable by crushing up dried catnip and adding it to the dog’s food or water.  Just a little goes a long way!

However, the effect is hard to predict.  While most dogs experience a calming effect, some dogs get nervous and other dogs get hyperactive.

Both circumstances can become a handful. If your dog gets nervous when you leave the house or go to the vet, maybe catnip can help? 

Digestive Aid

Catnip may help dogs with digestion. Obviously to reach the digestive tract the dog must ingest the catnip. It may help with indigestion, cramps, diarrhea, and flatulence.

Some people report using small amounts of catnip to help calm their doggy’s upset tummy.

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Is Catnip Bad for Your Dogs?

In moderation, catnip appears safe to use on a dog’s skin or internally. However, you should avoid giving your canine any catnip toys made for cats.

Actually, you should avoid giving your dog cat toys altogether. In some cases, it is not the catnip you need to worry about, but the toy itself. 

Toys for cats are designed with cats in mind, not dogs. Cat toys can be small and contain small parts. You know how dogs like to rip up their toys, right?

Well, there have been many incidences of dogs chewing up cat toys and choking on them or getting parts stuck in their intestines. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean your dog can’t play with a catnip toy. Some creative canine owners have found that you can take any toy, made specifically for dogs and rub it with catnip or catnip spray. Presto! Now you have a catnip toy made for dogs!

Sounds like a good way to get some more use out of an old dog toy or you can buy a new toy, top it off with some catnip and surprise your best friend with it.



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2 thoughts on “Is Catnip Bad for Dogs? [The Answer May Surprise You!]”

  1. Being a pet parent to varying creatures exposes you first hand to some knowledge, one of which has been discussed extensively in this article. It also goes to tell how the same activity affects animals differently, as the effects of catnip isn’t same with dogs and cats.

    Once again, great job with this article and site at large!

    1. HolistaPet Specialist

      Thank you so much for the comment and the positive words! We definitely agree that catnip affects animals differently, and hope to continue spreading knowledge on the topic 🙂

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