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Can Dogs Eat Catnip?

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When you have multiple furry friends in one household, it’s not uncommon for one to get a hold of another’s toys and treats. Luckily, the curiosity is relatively harmless, and if your dog eats catnip they should be fine. 

In fact, a small amount of catnip may even have some health benefits for your canine friend.

What is catnip?

Catnip is a fragrant green leaf that got its name in part because of the way cats respond to it. Catnip contains an oil called nepetalactone that stimulates receptors that give cats feelings of euphoria and happiness when they smell it. This minty plant can be grown in your own home or purchased from pet stores to be sprinkled on the floor, sprayed in a mist or stuffed into cat toys. The behavioral effects of catnip typically lasts about 10-15 minutes for cats. 

What happens when dogs smell or eat catnip?

Interestingly, catnip seems to have the opposite effect on dogs that it has on cats. While catnip has a stimulating effect on cats, it has more of a sedative effect on dogs. In fact, it can be used to calm dogs when they are experiencing anxiety, such as on a trip to the vet or during a storm. It may also be able to help dogs sleep more soundly at night and aid in their digestion.

Catnip also contains nutrients including flavonoids, vitamins C and E, tannins and magnesium, which are beneficial for your dog. If you want to give your dog catnip, you can sprinkle a very small amount (⅛ to ½ of a teaspoon) into his or her food. Talk with your veterinarian to determine if and when your dog should be given catnip. In large doses, catnip could have adverse effects on dogs, especially in older animals. 

You should also be careful not to give your dog toys with catnip that are designed for cats. These toys often have small parts that dogs may eat and could cause choking or intestinal blockages.

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