Catnip For Dogs – Safe or Dangerous?

July 27, 2022 by The Spot Pack
a cat licking its nose

Catnip For Dogs – Is It Safe or Dangerous?

If you have a cat and a dog at home, you might notice that they will often share their toys or try to get in on each other’s treats or food. So if you’re giving your cat catnip to make their whiskers twitch, you might ask yourself, “Can I give this to my dog?”. After all, sharing is caring! And if your dog is feeling left out, you may feel tempted to share catnip with all your furry family members.

Even if you don’t feel inclined to give it to your canine, dog owners know that your pup can get into just about anything around your home. They might get their paws on some catnip or essential oils, whether you mean for it to happen or not! If you have catnip around, it is good to know whether it is clean and safe for consumption. The answer to whether dogs can eat catnip might surprise you!

What Is Catnip & What Does It Do?

Scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, catnip is an herb in the mint family. Easy to grow and typically found in North America, it can be found in teas and natural bug sprays. It is light green with feather-like leaves and lavender flowers, and make cats purr like nothing else, even if they are pregnant! But why?
Catnip can work through smell or ingestion. Interestingly, when it is smelled, it will often have an energetic effect, but when eaten, it will mellow a cat out. Because cats have a unique sensory organ in their mouth called the vomeronasal gland that sends signals to the brain, even just a waft of catnip will incite a reaction. This gland interprets the components of the catnip and sends positive signals to the brain. But, it doesn’t work on all cats, and catnip receptivity is believed to be genetic – 50% of cats won’t even react to catnip at all.

Oil found in catnip called nepetalactone mimics sex hormones and is thought to trigger happy emotions in the brain. Once inhaled, your cat might become a jumping bean – if they are a predisposed catnip lover! All cats react differently – and some don’t react at all. It is case by case whether smelling or eating catnip will make a cat want to run around and play, take a good nap, or cuddle up and give you love. For cats who react well to catnip, it can significantly decrease anxiety.

These bouts of catnip “high” will typically last 10 minutes, and your cat might take a couple hours to be susceptible to it again. It is rare for a cat to overdose on catnip but ingesting it too much can make them sick – so don’t let them over-indulge!

If 50% of cats love catnip, and cat owners use it to treat anxiety or provide a stimulating treat – what does this mean for dogs? Will it have the same effect? Is it safe? Let’s discuss.

Can Dogs Consume Catnip?

In short, yes! It is safe and can have multiple benefits for your pooch – cats don’t get to have all the fun! Catnip’s ingredients are so beneficial that humans will use it as an ingredient in herbal remedies for its soothing effects. While it won’t make a human run around like crazy, it is an excellent addition to a tea concoction for relaxation!

If catnip is safe for dogs, what does it do to them?

Because cats and dogs have different genetic makeups, it will not make your canine react as a cat does. It will actually make your dog more relaxed and mellow. Although it might not promise boisterous playtime, dogs do stand to gain from some catnip in their diet.

Catnip boasts beneficial vitamins and minerals that any dog will benefit from. Like,

  • Essential Oils
  • Vitamins E & C
  • Magnesium
  • Tannins
  • Flavonoids

What type of catnip should I give my dog?

Catnip given to your dog should never be in the form of seeds but rather give them products made from leaves, stems, and flowers. Using tincture drops or a liquid catnip enables you to add the herb to their water or food. Try adding 12 drops and seeing how they react, and then give them more accordingly until they seem relaxed. Giving your dog a toy made for cats is unsafe because they are not designed with dog safety in mind. Smaller pieces and ingestible parts might pose a threat. But you can make your own by spraying catnip on any dog toy!

Benefits of Catnip for Dogs

So not only is it safe, it is actually a great thing to give to your pup. Let’s talk about some of the things catnip can be used to treat and remedy. Before trying to target any issues with catnip, let your dog try it and gauge their response. Many will calm down, but some might have the opposite reaction such as licking everything, so it is good to know how your dog responds!

  • Motion Sickness

Some dogs will sprint to the car the second they hear you open the door, but many dread it as they experience motion sickness. A ride down the road for your dog can turn up their tummy as the twists, turns, and movement of the car make them want to throw up their breakfast. This is when catnip can be your pup’s new best friend. The ingredients in catnip will not only relax your dog but will also tame their stomach. Give them a little bit about an hour before a trip on the road and watch them pass out peacefully!

  • Helping With Digestion

Sending catnip straight through the digestive tract can mitigate cramps, diarrhea 10, constipation, and indigestion. Humans used catnip to help with these health issues before cats even got their mitts on it! This herb from the mint family is a great tool to help tame your pooch’s tummy.

  • Relaxation and Calming Anxiety

You might be disappointed that catnip won’t send your dog into a playful frenzy – cause who doesn’t love the zoomies – but this can work to your advantage! Since it has a sedative effect  on dogs, it can be a great tool to relax your dog when they are stressed. If you are headed out of the house or embarking on a dreaded vet visit, slip your dog some catnip. Give your dog some 30 minutes to an hour before the anticipated stressful event to provide this relaxing effect.

Conclusion: Catnip for your Canine

Catnip can be an excellent tool for dog and cat owners alike! Moderation and monitoring are essential for everything you give your furry family members. Always gauge how your dog reacts, and don’t give it to your cat or dog in large doses. But, if you want to help your pup relax, fight motion sickness, or resolve tummy issues – catnip might be the perfect solution!

 

SOURCES:

Catnip: Is It Safe For Dogs? | Animal Care Clinic

Is Catnip Bad For Dogs? (The Answer May Surprise You!) | holistapet.com

What is Catnip? What Does Catnip Do To Cats? | petmd.com

Crazy For Catnip | humanesociety.org

Catnip is Good for Dogs Too! | animalwellnessmagazine.com

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