Can I Give My Dog Catnip?

Can I Give My Dog Catnip?If you’ve ever seen a cat get a buzz from catnip you probably wondered if it’s something you can give your dog for a similar effect. The answer, unfortunately, is that dogs don’t respond to it the way cats do. It’s really not something you can give to them to produce anything noteworthy.

There are, however, some rumors going around that you can give dogs anise instead of catnip. Some say it produces similar effects, but we were unable to substantiate these claims. Through trial and error such experiments produce all kinds of results, often due to a dog owners’ perception. You may find that your dog just likes eating it.

In any case, it seems that most dogs like these flowering plants, including catnip, simply because they are curious. It can’t hurt to give it a go with your dog to see what kind of response you get. Just don’t be surprised when they don’t do anything special afterwards.

Can I Give My Dog Catnip? Answer: Likely no effect

Dogs don’t really respond to catnip.

It’s okay if they sniff it or even eat some. But it’s not going to make them roll around on the ground and act any differently than they normally would. You’ll likely see them lick it and smell it but then they’ll go on about their business completely indifferent to it.

Cat nip, real name Nepeta cataria, is unique in that it really only has an effect on cats. Even big cats respond to it and have been known to go gaga for it. It can be really funny to see a cat rolling on the ground in what can only be described as total euphoria.

The truth is that no two dogs are the same, between different breeds, a different upbringing and of course different genetics. It’s really a matter of trying catnip to see what happens. But, unfortunately, a dog is very unlikely to respond to catmint so you’ll have to find other ways to get them as excited.

Dogs are Fun Already

The reason it’s fun to give a cat catnip is because they show traits that they typically don’t outwardly display. They act out of the ordinary, they break their usual reserved and refined cat etiquette and start acting, well, stoned.

The reason you don’t really need a dog equivalent to catnip is that dogs are already themselves. They just do what they feel like doing 24/7 so you don’t have to get them out of their shell or try to take down the wall they put up. It’s just not there to begin with.

Catmint Alternatives

We mentioned anise as one possible alternative to catnip for dogs. Our main point here is that dogs don’t really need catnip, they are already getting a big enough kick out of life. If you want to produce the same effect, get them a toy. You don’t need catnip for a canine!

Unlike cats, dogs stay playful even late into life and will usually light up when they get a new toy, especially one that squeaks or makes noise. Get them up and moving around with a game of fetch or tug of war. That will also give them the added benefit of getting activity and exercise.

You can also give them the occasional dog treat, especially when you’re teaching them new tricks. They will love that and will get just as much enjoyment from it than they would with something like catnip.

Conclusion on Catnip

Catnip is just an herb, a plant, and the only thing that makes it unique is the way cats respond to it. Basically, it’s as if they get high from the stuff. It’s even been documented that cats can overdose on it as they just can’t seem to get enough! That said, dogs aren’t known to respond to catswort at all.

Your dog isn’t missing out though. It’s not considered a useful or healthy medicine. It’s only mildly medicinal and doesn’t offer any health benefits for dogs nor does it treat diseases. It’s just something fun for cat owners, but not anything useful for dog lovers.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin July, 2015

Our rescued Rat Terrier mix definitely responds to catnip. It mellows her out. We found this out by accident when someone gave her a catnip mouse to play with. She’s always been high strung and somewhat anxious with strangers, probably because she wasn’t socialized as a youngster. But with the catnip, there is a definite calming effect. It’s not something we would give her everyday, but we sure will now prior to things like vet visits.


K July, 2014

Catmint (catnip) is a calming agent for pups. Glycerin Tincture works well for travel anxiety on Whippet or slim hound types, fed in advance. But we have not had success against panic attacks like thunder.


Terence January, 2014

Catnip repels certain insects and chemicals derived from it have been used in pesticides. Catnip is a herb that is safe for dogs.


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