Is Catnip for Dogs Safe?


The Nepeta Cataria, which you may have come across in different variations such as- Catnip, Catwort, field balm, cataire, etc., is the genus Nepeta species in the family Lamiaceae. This plant contains various vitamins and chemicals such as Vitamins C & D, Magnesium, Tannin, a chemical that protects against bacteria and flavonoids(a potent antioxidant).

Like its name, “catnip,” the plant has a stimulating effect on cats and tends to make them go crackers! A mere sniff of this plant does the trick; activities like rubbing, rolling and eventually crashing. However, the catnip plant has an adverse effect on dogs; most people often ask, is the catnip plant safe for dogs? Well, in this article, we’ll be covering a whole lot about catnip for dogs; effects, identification of this plant, how to administer the plant to your canine friend, and also similar plants to the catnip. Let’s dive in.

How to identify the Catnip Plant

Catnip is native to the Middle East, Central Asia, Southern and Eastern Europe, and some parts of China. However, the plant can also be found in North America and some parts of Africa. To identify the catnip plant, here are a few features to look out for-

The catnip plant has grayish-green heart-shaped leaves, with leaves and thick stems all covered in fuzzy hairs. The best time to forage for the catnip plant is by July and October, when the flowers bloom; the leaves can be bright white with purple-colored pigmentation or just white. The catnip plant can grow to about 1metre in length as it also features a square-like stem, which you can feel by rolling the stem between your thumb and index finger.

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Types of Catnip

There are over 250 varieties of the Catnip plant. Here are a few of the best.


This variety is often confused with the common catnip. The only distinctive features of this variant are the height and flower color. The catmint plant features a purple flower and grows to 15 inches on average.

Camphor Catnip

As the name implies, the camphor catnip has strong camphor with flowers having purple dotted pigmentation.

Greek Catnip

The Greek catnip is another variety of the catnip plant. It features a pale green or white color complimenting pink flowers. The Greek catnip can grow to 18 inches at most, making it smaller than the common catnip.

Common Catnip

This variety of catnip is most preferred by cats, the high effect it has on cats is why they find it a lot attractive. The common catnip can grow to about 3 ft. tall.

Lemon Catnip

The lemon catnip has a strong lemon smell. This variety of catnip can easily be confused with the common catnip plant with distinctive color and size. The downside to this variant is that cats find it less attractive.

Effects of Catnip on Dogs

Nerve Calming effect

While the Catnip plant can be beneficial to dogs, one such benefit is the nerve-calming effect it has on your dog. Dogs may tend to be nervous and feel uneasy when visiting the vet, traveling, having to deal with loud noises, meeting strange people, etc. As such, you can offer your dog water infused with fresh catnip leaves, and you will notice how the anxiety slowly decreases.

Improve sleep quality

The catnip plant also helps improve sleep quality in your dog due to its sedative contents. If your dog experiences troubled sleep or have a hard time sleeping, then catnip play may be just the answer to that.

Could serve as an Antiseptic

The catnip plants contain lots of minerals and have antibacterial properties, which can help speed up the healing process in wounds and minor cuts.

Ease intestinal troubles

Catnip can be used to soothe gastrointestinal discomforts like cramps and spasms, dyspepsia, and diarrhea in dogs.

Insect repellant

The essential oils present in the catnip plant can be extracted and used as an insect repellant on dogs. Just rub the catnip extract all over the dog to repel insects. It also works on lice.

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Is Catnip for Dogs Safe?

Often this question is asked, but is it really safe for dogs? Yes, it is. Although the Catnip plant may react differently to cats as it can make them behave nutty and crazy, the reverse is the case for dogs. The chemical contents of the catnip plant are such that it provides calmness when administered to dogs. Other benefits may include- healthy digestion, healing properties, improved sleep, and reduced dogs’ anxiety.

How to administer Catnip to Dogs?

The Catnip plant has soothing effects on dogs, and as such, should be used only when the need arises; alternatively, you can ask your vet for guidance on when to administer the catnip plant to your dog. Should you decide to do this at home, here are ways to administer the plant.

Sprinkle in dog food; you can sprinkle 1/8 or half a teaspoon of dry catnip to your dog’s food for the best result. However, do not overuse or abuse this plant.

Infuse in water; Add a few fresh leaves of catnip in your dog’s water should you decide to choose the infusion over food sprinkling.

Other plants similar to catnip

Here a few plant with similar effects to catnips-

Valerian root

Tatarian honeysuckle

Silver Vine


Is catnip safe for dogs?

Yes, catnip is totally safe for dogs to digest and poses no harm at all.

How long does it take for the Catnip effect to wear off?

Usually 10 minutes on average.

Is catnip also called catmint?

Actually, catnip is a type of catmint, mostly confused with the Catnip plant.


The Nepeta Cataria plant is loved by felines; the feeling it gives when sniffed or taken orally can be compared to that of marijuana. Although the catnip plant is entirely safe with dogs, you should only use it when necessary or seek prescriptions by your vet before administering this plant to your dogs.

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