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

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

Many of us have heard about catnip for cats, 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 when it comes to catnip toys and dogs. So what exactly will catnip do to a dog? Will it have any effects?


What 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. Nepetalactone is the active chemical in catnip responsible for sending most felines into a frenzy. 


Also referred to as “catmint”, catnip effects between 70-80% of cats. 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?


How 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 or nerve tonic. Although, for this effect to take action the dog must ingest the catnip. This is easily achievable by crushing it up and adding it to the dog’s food or water.


Some dogs get nervous and other dogs get hyper. Both circumstances can become a handful. Surprisingly, some people actually use catnip to help keep their furry canine calm. If your dog gets nervous when you leave the house or go to the vet, maybe catnip can help? 


Diuretic for Dogs

It may surprise you that some people use catnip as a diuretic. Diuretics are used to help humans and animals, such as dogs, pass urine. Catnip can help regulate urination and relieve the body of excess water, sodium, and toxins. In some conditions, the removal of sodium and excess water can actually help to improve blood flow.


Diuretics should always be used with caution. Overuse can lead to complications such as dehydration, decreased urination,  electrolyte imbalance, and more. As with any other diuretic, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian before using them with your canine.


Digestive Aid

Catnip may help dogs with digestion. Obviously to reach the digestive tract the dog must ingest the catnip. When a canine ingests catnip it may help with indigestion, cramps, diarrhea, and flatulence. Some people also report using small amounts of catnip to help calm their doggy’s upset tummy.


Antiseptic Properties of Catnip

Catnip contains thymol in its essential oils. Thymol is often used for its antiseptic, antifungal, and antibacterial properties in certain topical products. For this reason, some people have applied fresh catnip or catnip oil to a dog’s wound as treatment. Others have found that the smell of fresh catnip can serve as a temporary insect repellant for their furry friend.


Is catnip bad for dogs

Is Catnip Bad for Dogs?

In moderation, catnip is 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 any cat toys altogether. It is not the catnip you need to worry about, it’s 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 incidences of dogs chewing up cat toys and choking on them or parts of them. 


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 dog 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.


This Post Has 2 Comments
  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. 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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