Can Dogs Play With Catnip Toys?

The catnip itself is perfectly harmless. It’s the toy that’s a problem. All those squeakers, rattles and fillings are T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

This shiba imu named Meow prefers cat toys over dog toys. Go figure!

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.

Additional Resources

Photo: seamusiv/Flickr

Gayle Hickman

View posts by Gayle Hickman
Gayle Hickman has been researching and writing about pet behaviors since 2011. In addition to Petful, her articles have appeared on Reader's Digest, Yahoo Shine and WebVet, to name a few.

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