Most cats love catnip, which tends to give kitty a “high,” of sorts.
The nepetalactone in catnip makes cats react to this plant in different ways. Some go crazy over catnip, while others just enjoy a peaceful naptime from its effects. It is neither addictive (contrary to folklore) nor harmful to our feline pets.
Can I Give My Dog Catnip?
Although the name makes us assume that it is specifically for cats, catnip is fine for dogs too.
With its tranquilizing effect (yes, it can actually calm pets), catnip is a safe herbal remedy for our canine friends. You can use it to alleviate nervousness and sleeplessness in many animals.
Those long car trips or visits to the veterinarian’s office may become less stressful to your nervous pooch if you mix a little “catnip bliss” for him by sprinkling one-eighth to one-half teaspoon per pound of food into his dog dish, or by simply adding a few leaves of the herb into his water bowl. Of course, this should not be done every day, and you may want to discuss it with your veterinarian first.
Catnip may also relieve muscle spasms, diarrhea and minor respiratory problems, according to 1,001 Old-Time Household Hints.
What About Toys ?
While a little catnip may be okay for dogs, catnip toys are not designed for dogs. The chance of your pooch swallowing squeakers, rattles, fillings or other teeny parts of the toy is where the danger lies.
According to Jon Rappaport, DVM, eating the whole toy could create an obstruction, a serious problem. “The concern is that many cat toys are small and some dogs like to ‘eat’ things, which can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction that could require surgery,” Dr. Rappaport says.
To keep your dog healthy and safe, do not leave those small toys (catnip or not) lying around. Remember that prevention is the best cure.
Safe Ways to Give a Dog Catnip
Try rubbing a little catnip on a tennis ball to give your dog that extra push he needs to play fetch. Be on guard here, too, as any neighboring cats may decide to play “fetch the dog” once they get a whiff of the odor on him!
Did you know there is actually a canine catnip? This herb, anise (or aniseed), offers dogs the same enjoyment as catnip does for cats. Sprinkle a few drops of anise on one of his favorite fabric toys and see how he takes to it. You can buy anise extract at many grocery stores. Also, anise-flavored dog treat recipes and products can be found online.
Anise Seed Is Catnip for Dogs
If you’re a dog owner and wish there were some special way to turn an ordinary toy into a special doggy treat with the addition of an herb, good news! Dogs are nearly as crazy for anise seed as cats are for catnip.
Anise is a plant that’s sometimes known as fennel (although technically fennel is a different plant) and put in absinthe. It’s best known as what makes licorice taste like licorice. Anise is what it’s called when it’s put into tea and skin cream, and the lures that hunting and racing dogs chase across fields.
Anise seed extract is what coats nearly any nonliving thing that dogs are expected to chase. Hunting dogs will follow a bundle of anise seeds dragged over the ground for hours. It’s also often used to coat the “rabbit” at dog tracks. Occasionally, it’s sprinkled on dog toys, though not as a matter of course; while catnip tends to make cats mellow, anise seed extract revs dogs up and gets them hyper. Not all dogs respond to it to the same degree, but owners don’t appreciate a toy that always makes their dogs go nuts.
Apparently pranksters used to sprinkle anise seed on themselves to get other people’s dogs to come bounding over, or on a friend to get that friend to be mobbed by dogs. That’s not so smart a move, for obvious reasons. It’s also important to give dogs only a moderate amount of anise at any one time. And the ASPCA warns that a great deal of anise seed extract can rile up a dog’s stomach or slightly depress its nervous system. A sprinkle or two in a dog treat or on a favorite toy, however, doesn’t do a dog any harm. So head over to the spice section, or to a store that sells scented oils, if you want to give your dog a fun afternoon.
Can humans get high on catnip ?
In the late 1960s, some researchers reported catnip gave people a marijuana-like high, but it turned out they had simply mixed up the two plants. As veterinarian Arnold Plotnick of Manhattan Cat Specialists in New York wrote to me in an email, “Think about it… catnip is cheap and legal. If it had a significant effect on people, everyone would be smoking it.”
Meanwhile, cats do feel effects from marijuana, but it may be scary for them. “Animals can’t understand they’re being intoxicated, therefore it can cause considerable anxiety,” says Bruce Kornreich, associate director of the Cornell Feline Health Center in upstate New York.