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Is There a Catnip Equivalent for Canines?

What herb are dogs passionate about, and what does it smell like?

Is There a Catnip Equivalent for Canines? Pin on Pinterest

Cats love catnip, and we love watching them react to it. We love the way they pounce on their toys and roll on the carpet in ecstasy for a few minutes only to see them succumb to the catnip aftermath nap.

Cats are passionate about this herb…but what about our fellow canines? Is there an equivalent of this wonderful herb for dogs? Some say dogs react to it as well but, just like some cats, not everyone responds to this wonder herb!


After lots of searching on a variety of herbal forums, the recommendation for Anise came up. If you have never smelled this potent herb, think black licorice! Anise is a pungent, earthy herb typically used for savory and sweet recipes. Many Italian cookies contain Anise as a main ingredient for flavor.

For pets, the use of Anise is contraindicated by the ASPCA. This is due to its ability to cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous depression in large quantities. However, it is commonly used in scenting the rabbit in greyhound racing. Perhaps rabbits smell like Anise? I’ve asked a few clients of mine who own rabbits and have gotten a few strange looks with my questions. Their conclusion is that some of the various hays and pellets the rabbits eat can smell like Anise at times and maybe that is what the dogs tend to be attracted to.

If there is a potential for an herbal equivalent for dogs, why is it not in every single dog toy out there already? Simply put – there is no real equivalent yet that every dog is attracted to that can be marketed as the “catnip for dogs.”

Unusual Scents

Dogs love anything with an unusual scent. Normally the worse it smells to us, the more divine smelling it is to a dog. While five-day-old rotting fish that has been lying in the sun can cause our stomachs to turn, to a dog it is a slice of heaven. Not only do animals roll in strong fragrances to disguise themselves from predators, but they also do it because they love it!

The next time you see your dog wanting to roll in something particularly pungent, just remember that it is a normal behavior for your canine companion. ASPCA Poison Center. Retrieved 10/4/2014. “Tracking with Anisesed and its Other Uses,” by Carl L. Heifetz. Retrieved 10/4/2014.

Rodale’s 21st-Century Herbal: A Practical Guide for Healthy Living Using Natures Most Powerful Plants. By Michael Balik. Page 231. Pimpinella anisum.

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