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Is Catnip Safe for Dogs and What are its Effects?

Catnip is harmless for dogs when given under veterinary guidance. Its sedative effects may help relieve travel anxiety in dogs. This DogAppy article throws some light on the positive effects of catnip on dogs.
DogAppy Staff
Did You Know?
Due to its sedative properties, catnip can be used to treat sleeplessness in dogs.
Catnip is a herbal plant, and its extracts are used for people who have anxiety problems and difficulty falling sleep. In cats, catnip acts as a psychoactive drug, making them hyperactive. Cats get a sense of euphoria after consuming this plant. Considering its euphoric effect on cats, is it safe to give this herb to dogs? Are there any chances of dogs becoming aggressive after eating the herb? The following sections discuss the safety and impact of catnip on dogs?
Catnip Effects on Dogs
First of all, there is no harm in giving catnip to dogs. The herb is found to be safe, provided it is given in the right doses. Although catnip is harmless, does it have any positive effect on dogs, as observed in humans. That's the discussion that follows.
Relieves Anxiety
Although catnip delivers a feeling of high in cats, dog reacts differently to its doses. So don't expect your dog to roll around crazily (as noticed in cats) on the floor after giving it some catnip. The effect, surprisingly, is exactly the opposite in dogs, meaning, it makes them more calm and mellow. Catnip acts like a mild sedative, which can make them lethargic and even induce sleepiness. This calming effect of catnip in dogs can be helpful in the following situations:
It is observed that dogs tend to become anxious when traveling for long distances. For instance, car rides can be unsettling for some dogs. Your pet can also become stressful when taken on long haul flights. In such a scenario, feeding some catnip can be helpful to relieve anxiety considerably, and your pet will appear calm through the entire trip. In short, catnip may be helpful to mitigate travel anxiety. Nervousness in dogs after hearing noises of firecrackers or thunderstorms can also be treated by feeding some amount of catnip to them.
Digestive Aid
Catnip is considered a natural remedy for diarrhea in dogs. The herb displays antispasmodic properties, which can relieve cramping (spasmodic) and abdominal pain commonly associated with diarrhea. Catnip, with its gas-relieving properties, can also help treat digestion problems, such as bloating, that is marked by excess build-up of gas in the stomach.
Just mix ⅛ to ½ a tea spoon of dried catnip to every pound of dog food. Or else, giving water containing fresh leaves of catnip is another option. You can also feed catnip tea, that is made from the leaves and flowers of the plant.
Facilitates Wound Healing
Thymol, an important constituent of catnip, displays antimicrobial properties, as found out through several studies. It shows antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activities; so one can say that thymol-containing catnip acts a natural antiseptic, and applying it externally can help treat external wounds in dogs. Use a poultice made from the leaves, for external application.
Catnip oil is well-known for its diuretic nature, which can benefit humans and dogs alike. Dilute catnip essential oil with a carrier oil, and apply it through your dog's fur. This helps stimulate urination, in turn promoting body detoxification.
Insect Repellent
Catnip essential oil also acts as an effective insect repellent. Insects like mosquitoes, fleas, lice, and ticks cannot withstand the smell of catnip. So applying this oil (a highly diluted formula) can certainly keep insects away from your dog's skin.
Are Catnip Toys Safe for Dogs?
While feeding catnip is not a cause for concern, allowing your pet to play with catnip toys can spell trouble, as these toys are not suited for dogs. Most catnip toys are small, which can be ingested. So, your pet may unknowingly swallow the toy while playing with it and chewing it. This is a cause of serious concern, as it can cause intestinal obstruction. Moreover, there is the possibility that your canine pet may tear apart the toy and ingest all the catnip stuffed inside. This can be potentially dangerous and cause serious reactions. Also, constantly chewing the toy may eventually cause a negative reaction in some dog breeds over a period of time. So, to be on the safer side, it is best not to allow your dog to play with catnip toys.
On the whole, the use of catnip for dogs is for medical purpose only, and should not be used otherwise. For instance, when the dog is healthy and fine, mixing catnip with his food or water is not necessary. The occasional use of catnip is advised in dogs, that too after consulting with your veterinarian.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.