While catnip's impact on cats is well-known, it often leaves us wondering whether it has a similar effect on dogs. While it doesn’t work in exactly the same way, catnip can have a positive impact on our dog’s well-being. 

We’ll shed light on the world of catnip, its fascinating properties, and what it means for our pups.

What Is Catnip? 

Before we dive into the world of catnip and dogs, let's first explore what catnip is and why it has the effect it does on cats. Catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, is a herbaceous plant native to Europe and Asia. The magic behind catnip lies in a compound called nepetalactone, which is found in its leaves, stems, and seeds. 

When cats encounter catnip, they often exhibit a range of behaviors, from rolling and rubbing to playful zoomies. The scent of catnip, with its distinctive aroma, draws cats in, making it a go-to choice for cat toys and treats. 

However, it's crucial to clarify that catnip's effects on cats are unique and not shared with our canine companions. This differentiation lays the foundation for understanding how catnip interacts with dogs.

How Does Catnip Affect Dogs?

It's not uncommon to see a cat reacting ecstatically to catnip, but what about dogs? There's a prevalent belief that dogs may have a similar enthusiasm for this herb, but the reality is quite different. 

Dogs do not experience the same euphoric response to catnip as cats do. The reasons behind these differing reactions are rooted in biology and genetics. While cats possess specific receptors in their nasal tissue and brain that respond to nepetalactone, dogs lack these same receptors. 

Consequently, dogs are not wired to react in the same way as cats when exposed to catnip. This contrast often prompts pet owners to question whether there are any tangible effects of catnip on dogs.

Catnip and Canines: A Detailed Exploration

Unlike cats, dogs generally do not display the same playful or euphoric reactions when encountering catnip. However, some researchers suggest that some dogs may exhibit mild reactions, such as sniffing, rubbing, or rolling when in the presence of catnip. 

These reactions, if present, are often less intense than those observed in cats. It's important to note that individual dog responses can vary widely, and many dogs may not react to catnip at all. 

The Smell of Catnip 

The allure of catnip is also deeply connected to its aromatic properties. For cats, the scent of catnip is irresistible. The compound nepetalactone, found in catnip's leaves, stems, and seeds, is released when the plant is crushed or bruised. 

Cats, with their finely tuned senses, are highly receptive to this aroma. It triggers a range of behaviors, from euphoric rolling to energetic play. The effect of catnip typically lasts for 10 minutes, after which the cat experiences a temporary immunity to the effects of catnip for approximately 30 minutes. 

The response to catnip is influenced by genetics, with around 70 to 80 percent of cats exhibiting this behavior when exposed to the plant. It is worth noting that kittens do not typically respond to catnip until they reach about six months of age and reach sexual maturity.

While some dogs may investigate the scent of catnip out of curiosity, it doesn't hold the same power over them as it does for our feline friends. Understanding this distinction helps us appreciate why catnip affects dogs differently and informs our exploration of its potential benefits for canines.

What Are the Potential Benefits of Catnip for Dogs?

While dogs may not share the same intense reactions to catnip as cats, there are some potential benefits worth considering. Catnip has been observed to have a mild calming effect on certain dogs — and humans! Just as humans enjoy herbal teas for relaxation, catnip may offer a similar experience for dogs when used in moderation. 

Catnip contains various beneficial components such as magnesium, vitamins C and E, tannins, flavonoids, and essential oils. These elements contribute to the digestive health of dogs and may provide relief from gastrointestinal discomfort. 

Here are some potential uses for catnip with dogs:

  • Calming Effect: Catnip can help calm dogs that experience stress, whether it's related to vet visits or stressful holidays. It may have a soothing impact on their mood and overall well-being.

  • Improved Sleep: When used in the appropriate conditions, catnip can assist in enhancing dogs' sleeping patterns, potentially promoting more restful sleep.

  • Natural Antiseptic: Catnip possesses antibacterial and healing properties, making it a potential natural antiseptic option. Applying fresh catnip to minor external cuts or scrapes may help facilitate the healing process.

Remember, introducing catnip to dogs should be done cautiously and with guidance from a veterinarian. Each dog may respond differently to catnip, and monitoring for any adverse reactions is essential.

How Can I Use Catnip for Dogs?

Responsible pet ownership is at the core of our values at A Pup Above. When considering the use of catnip for dogs, it's essential to exercise caution and follow best practices. 

Start with a small amount to gauge your dog's response. Some dogs may show interest, while others may remain indifferent. 

Monitor your dog closely during this introduction to ensure their safety. It's also advisable to consult with your veterinarian, as they can provide personalized guidance based on your dog's needs and any underlying health conditions. 

To fully utilize the benefits of catnip for your dog, you can consider incorporating it into their routine by following these guidelines:

  1. Food Addition: Sprinkle a conservative amount of 1/8 to ½ teaspoon of dried catnip onto your dog's food. This can provide them with the potential benefits of catnip while consuming their regular meals.

  2. Water Infusion: Another option is to add a few fresh catnip leaves to your dog's drinking water. This allows them to ingest catnip in a milder form.

It is important to note that catnip should not be given to your dog daily. Moderation is key. Always consult your veterinarian before introducing catnip to your dog, especially if they have any underlying medical conditions that may interact adversely with catnip.

Remember, every dog is unique, and their response to catnip may vary. Monitoring their reactions and adjusting the usage based on their individual needs is essential.

Always opt for high-quality catnip products to ensure the purity and safety of the herb. By practicing responsible use and seeking professional advice, you can explore catnip as a potential enrichment tool for your dog's well-being.

Embracing Curiosity: Catnip's Role in Our Canine Companions

We've embarked on a journey of curiosity and exploration, much like our dogs do when they encounter something new. At A Pup Above, our commitment to pet health and well-being remains steadfast, and this exploration aligns with our values of providing the best for our furry family members.

While catnip may not hold the same benefits for dogs as it does for cats, it may offer some calm in times of stress. Some dogs may find relaxation in the presence of catnip, though individual reactions can vary widely. 

At the end of the day, remember that A Pup Above is here to support you with high-quality, nutritious pet food and valuable insights into the well-being of your beloved dog. In this journey, we celebrate the joy, warmth, and lifelong connection that comes with being a pet parent.


Catnip: Its uses and effects, past and present | National Library of Medicine

How Does Catnip Work Its Magic on Cats? | Scientific American

The evolutionary origins of the cat attractant nepetalactone in catnip | Science Advances

9 effective ways to keep your dogs calm during fireworks, according to vets | Business Insider