When most people think of catnip, they tend to think of a feline's silly reactions to the plant. While catnip for cats is usually a no-brainer for pet parents, there’s no need to panic if your dog happens upon your kitty’s catnip toys. In fact, catnip can be beneficial to dogs in some instances. So if you’re wondering, “Is catnip bad for dogs?,” the short answer is no.
Read on to learn more about catnip for dogs, how much is safe for your dog, and ways it may benefit your pup.
Catnip is a plant in the mint family.1 For humans, the herb is often used in natural cough suppressants, teas, and bug sprays. As many know, catnip is also used in some cat toys to elicit an energetic reaction from cats that sniff it.
Yes, catnip is safe for dogs. While it acts as a stimulant for cats, it has the opposite effect on dogs. This is normal and not a cause for concern. That said, your dog might get an upset stomach if they consume a lot of a fresh catnip plant.1 Other than that, there usually aren't any issues when a dog eats or sniffs catnip.
Catnip also has some dietary benefits for your dog. The herb includes magnesium, as well as vitamins C and E, which can all help support cognitive function and joint health.
As mentioned, catnip has an opposite reaction for dogs compared to cats. This means that while your feline friend may be bouncing off the walls, your dog could be napping after a few sniffs. This is due to a compound in the plant called nepetalactone.1 This reacts with your dog’s vomeronasal organ, an organ that controls how your dog responds to pheromones through their nervous system.
The nepetalactone triggers a response in that organ which causes dogs to become mildly sedated.1 Cats react differently because the scent is comparable to a female cat in heat, which wouldn’t trigger a reaction in dogs.
However, it’s not a universal reaction for all pups. Some dogs may have no reaction at all to catnip, while others may experience drowsiness. That said, it’s best to speak to your veterinarian before adding catnip to their routine.