Is There a Catnip Equivalent for Dogs?

Cats love catnip, and we love to give them catnip because it makes them happy and playful. There is a similar natural supplement we can give our dogs that will have the same effect – anise seeds.

Get the Right Spice

Anise seeds are like fennel seeds in taste and look; if you want that peppy behavior in your dog, make sure you have the former and not the latter. However, don’t fret if you did use fennel instead of anise seeds – fennel is not bad for dogs. Both have a licorice-like flavor but fennel is most often used in savory dishes while anise is most often used in desserts.

Another type of spice is called star anise. This spice cannot be mixed up with anise seeds; star anise is much larger and shaped like its namesake – a star. This spice should not be given to dogs.

Giving the Proper Amount

Anise seed has been known to cause an upset stomach in dogs. To avoid this side effect try grinding the seeds into a powder or get the spice in powder form. Don’t give your dog any more than a mere 1/8 of a teaspoon of powder per day. Sprinkle the powder into his food as to not irritate an empty stomach. You can cook with the spice; some people like to bake it right into their homemade dog biscuits.

But…What About Catnip?

Catnip is fine for dogs but will have the opposite effect on them. This herb gives cats an extra burst of energy but it will make dogs mellow and possibly sleepy. It has a calming effect on them and can be used in place of OTC medications such as Benadryl.

Another benefit to catnip is that it helps relieve motion sickness in dogs. Many dogs get very nauseous and nervous when they are riding in the back of a car. You may have noticed that your dog salivates in puddles when he goes for a ride even for a short period of time. This is a symptom of carsickness as well. Before you take the pooch out for a ride sprinkle the catnip in a few tablespoons of chicken broth or wrap it up in a slice of meat or cheese (or Tofurkey).

Catnip can also be used as an insect repellent. While most catnip sprays on the market are indicated for cats they probably wouldn’t harm your dog either. With that said it’s best to try to make your own. Steep a couple of tablespoons of the catnip along with fresh orange peels in two cups of very hot water. Let the catnip and peels soak for 10 minutes. Strain the peels and catnip and pour the water into a clean spray bottle. Before spraying your dog make sure he is clean and dry. You might need to spray your dog often especially if he rolls around on the floor often or he is outside for a long period of time. The spray, although effective, doesn’t last long.

Depending on what kind of behavior you want your dog to exhibit both catnip and anise seeds are safe for dogs in limited amounts. Be mindful of how much you give your dog throughout the day and make sure you tailor the dosage to his weight.

By Gabrielle Allemeier


K9 of Mine: Catnip for Dogs: Does It Exist?
Animal Wellness Magazine: Catnip Is Good for Dogs Too!

About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.