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Can Dogs Eat Catnip? Nutrition Facts & Safety Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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If you’ve been around cats experiencing catnip, then you’ve seen firsthand how wild it can make them act. But have you thought about what catnip does for dogs and if it is safe for dogs to ingest? Catnip is native to Eurasia and has been used as a seasoning and medicinal tea by humans since the Middle Ages. It was introduced to America in the 18th century and has since been valued for the benefits it can provide.

The good news is that catnip isn’t toxic to your dog, but this article goes over the advantages and disadvantages of giving catnip to your dog. It’s good to know what is safe to feed to your dog so you don’t cause them to become ill or experience other uncomfortable side effects.Divider 8

Can Dogs Eat Catnip?

Yes, dogs can eat catnip, but it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence due to the effects it has on dogs. It should not be considered a food, but more as a supplement or something you give when warranted.

Catnip affects dogs differently than cats, but it offers many benefits when given in the correct amounts. Catnip is a member of the mint family and can grow up to three feet tall. It produces a chemical compound called nepetalactone within its leaves and stems. This compound is what attracts cats to the plant and causes them to become hyperactive when they sniff it. If a cat eats the plant, it acts as a sedative. Dogs are not affected by the smell, but they will experience the sedative effects if eaten.

catnip plants
Image Credit: lwccts, Pixabay

When Is Catnip Bad for Dogs?

Catnip is not toxic to dogs, but you need to be careful not to give them too much. Speaking to your veterinarian before giving catnip to your dog is the best course of action so you can provide the right amount to keep them safe.

Large amounts of catnip are known to cause gastrointestinal upset, and it can interact with certain medications. Catnip can stimulate the uterus, so you never want to give it to your pregnant dog, and there is not enough information regarding how safe it is to give to lactating dogs.

When Is Catnip Good for Dogs?

When dosed correctly, catnip offers many benefits to dogs. The main use for catnip is for its sedative effects. If you have a dog who suffers from anxiety or nervousness, then catnip could help them feel calm during periods of anxiety.

Catnip oil causes increased urination, so it has been used as a diuretic to remove extra water and toxins from the body. If your dog suffers from stomach and digestive issues, catnip can help soothe the intestinal tract. It has antispasmodic properties that can reduce cramps and spasms. It is also great at relieving gas if you have a dog who suffers from flatulence.

Catnip has also been used to treat wounds because it contains an antiseptic called thymol. Before implementing any of these treatments, involve your veterinarian to prevent any ill side effects. However, the benefits gained from catnip is reason enough to speak to your vet about keeping catnip in your home for when it is needed.

Image Credit: DuckShutter, Shutterstock

Puppies and Catnip

Puppies could react differently to catnip, but it hasn’t been shown to cause harm. Puppies may experience results with smaller doses of catnip, though, so it is ideal to be cautious when using this plant. However, some vets recommend holding off until your puppy is older.

How to Feed Catnip to Your Dog

Catnip isn’t considered food and shouldn’t be part of an everyday feeding schedule. You can find catnip toys, but you should only use ones made for dogs. Stay away from catnip toys for cats because they are usually smaller and have parts that your dog could choke on.

Catnip is easy to grow, so you can harvest the leaves throughout the year. Once the leaves are dry, they crumble easily and can be stored in an airtight container. You can also find catnip online or at pet stores if you would rather purchase it.

When using it as a wound cleanser, you have to use catnip oil and it is indicated only for superficial wounds. When giving it internally, you can sprinkle the dried catnip onto your dog’s food or mix it into their drinking water.

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Don’t think of catnip as a food source; instead, use it as a supplement for when your pet suffers from anxiety or an upset stomach. Catnip is easy to find online, and once you’ve spoken with your veterinarian, you will know the right amount to give to your dog when it is needed.

There are other benefits to having catnip on hand, but you will want to wait until your puppy is older before using it. Catnip is not toxic, but it shouldn’t be given in large amounts or it can make your dog experience an upset stomach. When used correctly, catnip is a great herb to use under certain circumstances.

Featured image credit: rebeck96, Pixabay

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