What Does Catnip Do to Dogs? Is it Safe to Use?

Catnip is one of the most popular cat toys for our feline friends, but is it suitable for dogs? The good news is, catnip is one-hundred percent safe for dogs! Not only that – it actually contains vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial to your dog’s health. So, pet parents – feel free to treat that pup of yours!

What is Catnip?

Catnip plants (Nepeta cataria) are perennial herbs that belong to the mint family, native to southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and parts of China.

The reason it has such a euphoric and often amusing reaction in cats is because it contains a compound (active ingredient) called Nepetalactone in the pods, coating, and leaves. This is the compound that causes your feline friend to act chilled, playful, and sometimes, downright doolally!

Catnip can also be used as a base for many types of tea that release a calming effect in humans.

Is Catnip Safe?

Catnip is absolutely fine for your pets – feline and canine alike – and even contains several crucial vitamins, including: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Magnesium. It also contains tannins, flavonoids, and essential oils, which offers a calming effect, as well as antibacterial and healing properties.

So, yes. Catnip plants are safe for dogs, and can be a great addition to enhance their happiness and wellbeing. It even works on big cats!

What is Catnip Used For?

Fresh catnip or dried catnip can be great for your dog; particularly for their digestive system, and if they have anxiety issues. Catnip is a mild sedative and can help your dog with the following:

  • Sleep issues.
  • General nervousness or anxiety.
  • Preventing your dog from being bothered by pests, such as fleas and mosquitos.
  • Enhancing your dog’s mood.
  • Unlike with cats, who often get a bit over-excited when indulging in their favourite catnip toy, catnip has the opposite effect and actually helps keep them calm.
  • It helps keep dogs’ digestive systems healthy.
  • Catnip is a natural antiseptic.
  • Can relieve motion sickness in dogs.

How to Give Your Dog Catnip

You can buy catnip in fresh or dried format and the best way to administer it is sprinkling a small amount into his/her food, or placing dried catnip leaves into their drinking water. Catnip should be used in moderation, and not on a daily basis. If you’re ever unsure, consult your veterinarian for the best catnip tips or advice for your pup.

Catnip toys should be avoided for dogs, purely because dogs like to chew and will likely damage the toy and make a mess! Many cat toys contain the herb, but because cats generally aren’t known for chewing toys, this is a suitable option for them.

Always monitor how your dog acts once he or she has consumed catnip, as most dogs react differently. And make sure you purchase catnip from reputable pet stores.

How Long Does the Catnip Effect Work on Dogs?

Because every dog is different, and the effect can differ depending on dosage, there is no clear indication of how long catnip will last in dogs. However, because it contains essential oils, it is likely it has a calming effect of up to one-two hours.

Can Dogs Overdose on Catnip?

Catnip is completely safe for dogs and so, even if your dog intakes a little too much, it is still fully non toxic and will not bring harm to them or cause any long-term health issues – as long as this isn’t a common, recurring instance.

Because catnip is a herb, over-consumption can cause several health issues, such as urinary tract issues and gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting, and diarrhoea. It is also recommended to check with your vet to ensure your dog is fine to enjoy catnip if he/she has a health problem you’re aware of.

Catnip for Dogs: FAQs

How Long Does it Take For Catnip To Work on Dogs?

According to the Animal Wellness Magazine, generally it takes around thirty minutes for the catnip to start acting. So, if you have an anxious dog, or dogs who don’t respond well to certain events, such as fireworks or a trip to the vet, administering some catnip up to half an hour before can help calm dogs.

What is Catnip Also Known As?

Nepeta cataria has many nicknames and can commonly be referred to as:

  • Catnip
  • Meowijuana (our personal favorite!)
  • Catmint
  • Catwort
  • Field balm
  • Cataire

If you ever see a catnip product under one of these names, know that it is the same thing.

Does Catnip Make Cats High?

Catnip is not a dangerous or illegal drug, and because it doesn’t contain THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the compound in the marijuana plant that releases a high when ingested, cats (or dogs) do not get inebriated when exposed to catnip.

That said…

According to NPR, the compound in catnip produces a chemical reaction in cats that activates their opioid reward systems, which is why your cat acts a bit crazy when “under the influence” of catnip!

Again – we cannot stress enough that catnip is not a dangerous or illegal drug, and this effect on your pet will not cause them danger, distress or health problems.

Can Pets Have Withdrawal Symptoms From Catnip?

According to Pet MD, pets cannot experience withdrawal effects from catnip – even from frequent or repeat exposure. This is because the endorphins are tightly regulated in their release. However, cats can develop a mild tolerance to the herb over time.

Is Catnip Addictive?

Despite the often amusing reaction in cats that can be likened to a drug like effect, catmint isn’t addictive. This is because the compound Nepetalactone is closer to a pheromone than an actual drug, and the chemicals in the brain that are released from this pheromone are not habit-forming.

Where Can I Buy Catnip for My Dogs?

Catnip is inexpensive and readily available in most pet stores and pet aisles in the supermarket. It comes in the form of sprays, toys, treats, dried sachets, and more. You can also grow your own at home – ask your local garden center if they sell seeds!

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