Is Anise Truly Catnip For Dogs?

If you’re a cat lover, you’re probably always on the lookout for ways to make your feline friend happy. One popular option is catnip, which usually comes in the form of a small toy, dried leaves, or a spray. But what about dogs? They won’t benefit from catnip, but is there an alternative that will work on a canine?

Let’s take a closer look at the herb anise to see if it’s truly beneficial for our canine friends.

What Is Catnip?

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a member of the mint family and is native to Europe and Asia. It’s a hardy plant that can grow up to three feet tall and produces small, white flowers. The part of the plant that contains the oils that attract cats is the leaf. When cats smell catnip, they may roll around in it, rub their faces in it, or eat it. Some cats will even become very energetic, running and leaping around. The effects usually last for about 10 minutes before wearing off and taking another 30 minutes or so to build back up again.

Is Catnip Safe For Dogs?

While catnip is perfectly safe for cats, the same can’t be said for dogs. In fact, catnip can be toxic to dogs if they eat too much of it. Symptoms of catnip toxicity in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, lethargy, and lack of appetite. If you think your dog has ingested too much catnip, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately.

So, Is Anise Safe For Dogs?

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is a member of the parsley family and is native to the Mediterranean region. It’s often used as a spice in cooking or baking and has a licorice-like flavor. As you might know, it’s from the versatile plant that gives use caraway, dill, fennel, and even cumin!

Anise oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant and is what gives black jelly beans their flavor. This essential oil is also what attracts dogs to the plant.

Unlike catnip, anise is safe for dogs to consume in small amounts. In fact, many dog breeds love the taste of aniseed. However, like anything else, moderation is key — too much anise can cause stomach upset in dogs just like it can in people.

The real key with a dog isn’t feeding it anise, it’s the smell. The smell of aniseed can be useful for training and it can make some dogs excited and eager to play, work, or bounce around. It will have no effect on other dogs, so you’ll need to experiment to find out the effect on your dog.

How To Use Aniseed

The best way to use anise is to buy it whole, as seeds, and grind it by hand. You can then sprinkle the resulting dust on a toy or put it in a sachet for you two to play with. It should be used for its smell, not feed to the dog as a food.

A single drop of aniseed essential oil can be used on a toy or spread over a surface to excite the dog. It can even be diffused to get the smell in the air. Using the oil is not recommended as it isn’t safe put on the skin o a person or dog (it’s an irritant) and it’s much too concentrated to consume, so you are better off with the anise seeds themselves.


If you’re looking for a way to keep your dog occupied (and away from your cat’s toys!), consider giving them some anise seed smell to play near. This herb is safe for dogs to consume in small amounts, but it’s the smell that will have the affect.