Catnip for Dogs: Safety, Benefits and Natural Alternatives

catnip for dogs

Catnip, a popular herb among feline enthusiasts, is renowned for its ability to induce euphoria in cats. However, many pet owners wonder, "Is catnip safe for dogs?" This article explores the use of catnip for dogs, its safety, benefits, and alternatives.


Is Catnip Safe for Dogs?

is catnip safe for dogs


The first question that comes to mind when considering catnip for dogs is whether it is safe for them. The good news is that catnip is generally safe for dogs. The active compound in catnip, nepetalactone, affects cats and dogs differently. While cats may become playful and hyperactive, dogs tend to have a more subdued response. Most dogs will simply sniff, roll around, or chew on catnip-infused toys without any adverse effects.


However, some dogs may be sensitive to catnip and experience mild digestive upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea, if they ingest a significant amount. Therefore, it's essential to monitor your dog's reaction the first time you introduce them to catnip and limit their amount of consumption. If you notice any adverse effects, discontinue use.


Catnip for Dogs: Benefits


Some of the benefits of catnip for dogs include:


  • Anxiety Relief: Catnip for dogs can be a valuable tool in managing anxiety. The calming effect of catnip can help dogs relax during stressful situations, such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or separation anxiety. By offering your dog catnip-infused toys or treats, you can potentially alleviate their anxiety and create a more peaceful environment.
  • Mental Stimulation: Is catnip good for dogs in terms of mental stimulation? Absolutely! Just like with cats, catnip can engage dogs mentally and physically. When dogs interact with catnip-infused toys, it encourages play and exploration, providing mental excitement and preventing boredom.
  • Bonding Time: Using catnip can also enhance your bond with your dog. Playing together with catnip-infused toys can create positive associations and strengthen your relationship.


Is There Catnip Specifically for Dogs?


While catnip is safe for dogs, some pet product manufacturers have recognized the need for catnip alternatives tailored to canine preferences. These products are often marketed as "catnip for dogs" or "dog-friendly catnip." They contain other safe herbs and plants that can provide similar effects to catnip in dogs.


Common dog-friendly alternatives to catnip include:


  • Valerian Root: Valerian root has a calming effect on dogs and can be used as a catnip equivalent for dogs. It's particularly helpful for anxiety-prone canines.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile is known for its soothing properties and can be used to create a calming environment for your dog. 
  • Peppermint: Peppermint can be used sparingly to provide a pleasant scent and flavor to dog toys or bedding. However, it's important not to overuse it, as excessive peppermint can be irritating.
  • Lemon Balm: Lemon balm is a mild sedative and can help calm anxious dogs. It can be used in small amounts in homemade treats or as an ingredient in calming sprays.


These alternatives can be found in various pet products, such as toys, sprays, and treats. Experimenting with different options can help you determine which one your dog prefers.


Using Catnip for Dogs

catnip for dogs


If you decide to use catnip or a catnip alternative for your dog, here are some tips for safe and effective use:



  • Start Slowly: Introduce catnip to your dog gradually. Begin with a small amount or use catnip-infused toys to gauge their response.
  • Monitor Your Dog: Pay close attention to how your dog reacts to catnip. Some dogs may become more active, while others may become relaxed. Adjust the amount and frequency of catnip accordingly.
  • Choose High-Quality Products: Opt for reputable brands when purchasing catnip or catnip alternatives to ensure the safety and quality of the product.
  • Use Catnip Toys: Catnip-infused toys are a convenient way to provide stimulation and entertainment for your dog. They can also prevent direct ingestion of large amounts of catnip.
  • Consult Your Veterinarian: If you have concerns about using catnip for your dog, consult your veterinarian. They can provide personalized advice based on your dog's health and needs.




Catnip for dogs can be a safe and beneficial addition to your pet's life. While it may not have the same mesmerizing effect on dogs as it does on cats, it can provide anxiety relief, mental stimulation, and bonding opportunities. Additionally, there are catnip alternatives available that cater to canine preferences.


As with any pet product, it's essential to introduce catnip gradually, monitor your dog's reaction, and choose high-quality options. If you're uncertain about using catnip for your dog, consult your veterinarian for guidance. With the right approach, catnip can be a great way to enhance your dog's well-being and happiness.



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