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Is Catnip Bad for Dogs?

Ellen Gutoskey
The kids are all right.
The kids are all right. / Paul Ventseck/iStock via Getty Images
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Your cat is busy batting around a toy that contains catnip when your dog tries to get in on the fun. A question pops into your mind: Is catnip safe for dogs?

Basically, catnip (Nepeta cataria) is just an herb from the mint family that contains nepetalactone, a chemical compound known to excite cats when it comes into contact with their olfactory receptors (i.e., when they smell it).

Though it probably won’t make your canine companion exhibit a similar sense of euphoria, it shouldn’t have any ill effects—unlike chocolate, coffee, and plenty of other common substances that aren't dog-friendly.

In fact, as the Kansas-based Animal Care Clinic explains, catnip boasts an impressive list of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can beef up your dog’s health. These include vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, flavonoids, and more.

How Does Catnip Affect Dogs?

Not all cats end up bouncing off the walls when they catch a whiff of catnip. Some act more “buzzed” than outright hyperactive, while others seem immune to it altogether.

For canines, meanwhile, catnip typically functions as a very light natural sedative. This makes it a great way to calm your dog down during thunderstorms, fireworks, veterinary visits, or any other stressful situations. It may also help them sleep or ease a sore stomach. Rover.com’s The Dog People recommends topping your dog’s meal with up to half a teaspoon of dried catnip or plopping a few catnip leaves in their water bowl.

Though the herb is, again, safe for canine consumption, it’s never a bad idea to run the plan by your vet before you offer some to your particular pooch.

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