Unleash the Fun: 10 Dog Friendly Alternatives to Catnip for Hours of Play

Are you tired of seeing your furry friend go wild over catnip? If you’re a dog lover, you understand the struggle of finding alternative ways to keep your canine entertained. Well, look no further! In this blog, we’ll unleash the fun with 10 dog-friendly alternatives to catnip that will provide hours of play for your beloved pup.

🐶 From interactive toys to tasty treats, we’ll explore a variety of options that are guaranteed to keep your dog’s tail wagging.

🐾 Discover the secret behind puzzles and games that will challenge their minds and keep them engaged.

🎾 Explore innovative toys designed specifically for dog play, ensuring hours of entertainment.

💤 Uncover relaxation techniques and calming aids that can help soothe your pup during playtime.

🍗 And, of course, we’ll share some tasty, homemade treats that will have your furry friend drooling with delight.

Whether you have a small breed or a large one, a puppy or a senior dog, this blog has something to offer every canine enthusiast. Say goodbye to boredom and hello to endless entertainment for your furry companion.

Short Summmery

Understanding Catnip and its Effects on Cats

Catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, is a flowering plant that belongs to the mint family. Native to eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia, catnip has long been known for its fascinating effects on our feline friends. When cats are exposed to catnip, they often exhibit behaviors ranging from intense excitement to relaxation, all thanks to a compound known as nepetalactone.

But what about our beloved canine companions? Do dogs have an equivalent of catnip that can provide them with hours of fun and stimulation? While dogs may not react to catnip in the same way as cats do, there are several catnip alternatives, or “dog nips,” that can offer similar effects and keep them happily entertained.

Exploring Dog-Friendly Alternatives to Catnip

If you’re a dog owner looking to unleash the fun and engage your furry friend, consider trying these ten dog-friendly alternatives to catnip:

1. Star Anise (Illicium verum): This spice, commonly found in pet stores or your kitchen, has a scent reminiscent of licorice and can stimulate your dog’s senses. You can sprinkle some star anise on their toys, or even create a homemade dog treat recipe using star anise to keep them entertained.

2. Anise Seed: Similar to star anise, anise seed offers a mellow effect and can create a catnip-like experience for your dog. You can find anise seeds in pet stores or sprinkle them on your dog’s toys.

3. Anise Essential Oil: Another alternative to catnip is anise essential oil, which carries a potent scent that can excite your dog’s olfactory senses. Just a small amount of this oil can go a long way in providing a stimulating effect.

Exploring the Dog Equivalent of Catnip

When it comes to stimulating our canine companions, finding the perfect alternative to catnip can be just as crucial as a cat owner finding the real deal. Fortunately, there are several options that offer a similar level of excitement and entertainment for our furry friends. Let’s dive into the world of dog-friendly alternatives to catnip that can provide hours of playtime!

Star Anise The Aroma of Adventure

Star anise, a spice native to east and southwest Asia, offers a delightful alternative to catnip for dogs. Its licorice-like aroma can captivate and engage dogs, providing a stimulating and interactive experience. You can use star anise in various ways, such as placing it in a toy or grinding it into a powder to sprinkle on your dog’s favorite playthings.

Nepeta Cataria Another Minty Marvel

Nepeta cataria, also known as catnip’s lesser-known cousin, can have a similar effect on dogs. Although it doesn’t affect them as intensely as cats, some dogs may still find its minty scent appealing. You can try introducing nepeta cataria to your dog in the form of essential oils or even catnip tea, which can be sprayed on toys or added to their bedding.

Anise Seed Aromatic Delight

Anise seed, with its distinct licorice-like aroma, can be an excellent alternative to catnip for dogs. You can incorporate anise seed into various dog-friendly toys or treats. Simply crush the seeds and mix them into a homemade recipe or stuff them into a pet-safe toy for a delightful playtime experience.

Get Creative with Anise Oil

Anise oil, derived from anise seeds, carries a robust scent that can entice dogs. You can dilute a small amount of anise oil in water and spray it on your dog’s toys or bedding to create a stimulating environment. Just remember to use it sparingly, as too much anise oil can cause stomach upset in some dogs.

Dabble in Dognip

Dognip is essentially the dog equivalent of catnip, providing a similar stimulating effect for our canine friends. It is made from a flowering plant called silver vine, which can be found in the eastern Mediterranean region. You can purchase dognip toys or even the dried silver vine leaves to engage your dog in playful interactions.

Anise Seed: The Aniseed Alternative to Catnip

Anise Seed, also known as aniseed, is a fantastic alternative to catnip when it comes to stimulating your canine companion’s playfulness. Derived from the flowering plant Pimpinella anisum, anise seed offers a variety of benefits for dogs and can provide hours of entertainment. Let’s explore the wonders of anise seed as a catnip alternative and why it’s a great choice for your furry friend.

Aroma and Effects:

Anise seed has a distinct licorice-like scent that dogs find irresistible. Just like catnip, the aroma of anise seed can induce playfulness and excitement in dogs, making it an excellent choice for interactive toys and games. Additionally, anise seed contains a compound called anethole, which has a soothing effect on the nervous system. This compound can help provide a mellowing effect on your dog, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.

Safe for Consumption:

Unlike some other catnip alternatives, anise seed is safe for dogs to consume in small amounts. It is often used as a flavoring agent in certain dog treats and can even be incorporated into homemade dog-friendly recipes. However, it’s important to note that while anise seed is generally safe, excessive consumption can lead to stomach upset, so it’s crucial to use it in moderation.

DIY Dog Toys:

You can create your own anise seed-infused dog toys by placing a small amount of anise seed into a breathable fabric pouch or sock. Knot the end securely and let your pup enjoy hours of play with their enticing anise seed toy. This not only provides entertainment but also stimulates your dog’s natural hunting instincts.

Anise Oil Scent:

An alternative option is to use anise oil, which has a concentrated scent that can be used sparingly to enhance the aroma of your dog’s toys or play areas. Simply dilute a few drops of anise oil in water and spray it onto your dog’s toys or their designated play space to create an enticing atmosphere.

Health Benefits:

In addition to its stimulating effects, anise seed has potential health benefits for dogs. It is believed to aid in digestion, alleviate gas, and improve overall gastrointestinal health. However, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before using anise seed or any other herbal remedies to ensure they are suitable for your dog’s specific needs.

Mint Family Alternatives: Peppermint, Spearmint, and Basil

If you’re looking for dog-friendly alternatives to catnip that belong to the mint family, you’re in luck! Peppermint, spearmint, and basil can provide similar stimulating effects for your furry friend.


Peppermint contains a compound called menthol, which has a fresh and invigorating scent that dogs find appealing. You can introduce your dog to peppermint in different ways. One option is to fill a small toy or a sock with dried peppermint leaves and let your dog play with it. Alternatively, you can infuse the peppermint leaves in hot water to create a mild peppermint tea for your pup. Remember to let it cool down before offering it to your dog.


Spearmint also belongs to the mint family and has a milder flavor compared to peppermint. Like catnip, spearmint can have a calming effect on dogs. You can create your own spearmint-infused toys or use spearmint essential oil to make a refreshing spray. Just be sure to dilute the essential oil with water before spraying it in your dog’s environment to avoid any potential sensitivities.


Basil is another herb from the mint family that can engage and entertain your dog. You can grow fresh basil plants in your garden or purchase dried basil leaves from a pet store. Sprinkle a small amount of dried basil leaves onto your dog’s toys, bedding, or play area to release the enticing aroma. You can also consider making homemade dog treats that incorporate basil for an extra special, natural experience for your furry friend.

With the mint family alternatives – peppermint, spearmint, and basil – you can tap into an array of scents and tastes that will captivate your dog’s senses and provide hours of playtime enjoyment.

💡 key Takeaway: Peppermint, spearmint, and basil are dog-friendly alternatives to catnip from the mint family. You can use these herbs to engage and stimulate your dog’s senses while providing a safe and enjoyable play experience.

Valerian Root: A Calming Alternative for Dogs

Valerian root is a natural herb that has been used for centuries as a remedy for anxiety and sleep disorders in humans. But did you know that it can also have a similar calming effect on dogs? If your furry friend gets anxious or restless, valerian root might just be the perfect alternative to catnip.

Here’s why valerian root is a great option for calming down your pup:

1. Calming Properties: Valerian root contains compounds that interact with the brain’s neurotransmitters, promoting a sense of calmness and relaxation. This can be especially helpful during stressful situations such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or car rides.

2. Reducing Anxiety: If your dog experiences separation anxiety or general anxiety, valerian root can help alleviate their symptoms. It works by increasing the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which has a calming and soothing effect on the nervous system.

3. Promoting Sleep: Just like humans, dogs can struggle with sleep issues from time to time. Valerian root can help induce sleep by promoting drowsiness and reducing restlessness. It can be particularly beneficial for dogs who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.

4. Easy to Administer: Valerian root is available in various forms such as capsules, tinctures, or teas. You can easily find it at your local pet store or online. Make sure to follow the recommended dosage instructions provided on the product packaging or consult with your veterinarian for proper guidance.

5. Potential Side Effects: While valerian root is generally safe for dogs, it’s essential to keep in mind that every pup is unique. Some dogs may have an adverse reaction or experience digestive issues such as stomach upset or diarrhea. It’s always best to start with a small amount and monitor your dog’s response before increasing the dosage.

💡 key Takeaway: Valerian root is a natural alternative to catnip that can help calm anxious dogs, reduce anxiety, promote sleep, and is easy to administer. However, be cautious of potential side effects and consult with your veterinarian before introducing it to your furry friend’s routine.

Silver Vine: A Lesser-Known Catnip Alternative

If you’re a dog owner looking to provide your furry friend with hours of playful entertainment, you may be familiar with the concept of catnip. Catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, is a flowering plant that belongs to the mint family. While it has a magical effect on many cats, offering a mellow and euphoric experience, it doesn’t have the same effect on dogs.

But fear not, dog owners! There are alternatives to catnip that can captivate and engage your canine companion. One such alternative is Silver Vine, also known as Actinidia polygama. This lesser-known herb has gained popularity in recent years for its ability to stimulate and entertain dogs in a similar way that catnip does for cats.

Silver Vine is a climbing plant native to the mountainous regions of Eastern Asia, particularly in Southwest Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean. It has been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to its various health benefits. However, it wasn’t until recently that its effects on dogs were discovered.

What makes Silver Vine a great catnip alternative for dogs is its nepetalactone compound, which is also found in catnip. Nepetalactone is responsible for the catnip-like effect, but interestingly, it affects dogs in a different way. While it may not send dogs into a euphoric frenzy like catnip does in cats, it can still produce a playful and satisfying response in many dogs.

Like catnip, Silver Vine can be used in various forms to ensure your dog’s enjoyment. You can find Silver Vine in the form of dried leaves, powder, or sprays. It can even be infused into toys, making it a convenient and mess-free option for playtime with your dog.

When introducing Silver Vine to your dog, start with a small amount and observe their reaction. While it is generally safe for dogs, some may have a more intense response than others. If your dog shows signs of stomach upset or any negative reactions, discontinue use and consult with your veterinarian.

💡 key Takeaway: Silver Vine is a lesser-known catnip alternative that can provide playful and entertaining experiences for dogs. Just like catnip, it stimulates dogs in a similar way and can be found in various forms for easy use during playtime.

Matatabi Sticks: The Japanese Catnip Alternative

If you’re looking for an exciting alternative to catnip that will keep your dog entertained for hours, look no further than Matatabi sticks. Also known as Silvervine, Matatabi is a plant native to the eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia. It has long been used in traditional Japanese medicine and is gaining popularity among dog owners as a substitute for catnip.

Matatabi sticks contain a compound called Actinidine, which is similar to the nepetalactone found in catnip. When dogs sniff, lick, or chew on these sticks, they release Actinidine, which can have a calming and playful effect on them. It acts as a natural stimulant, providing mental and physical stimulation for your furry friend.

Here are some key benefits and uses of Matatabi sticks for your dog:

1. Dental Health: Chewinng on Matatabi sticks can help promote dental health in dogs by reducing plaque build-up and massaging their gums. The natural abrasive texture of the sticks helps in removing tartar, keeping their teeth clean and healthy.

2. Stress Relief: Dogs can often experience anxiety and stress, especially during times of change or in new environments. Matatabi sticks can help alleviate stress and provide a sense of calmness. The Actinidine compound in the sticks stimulates the release of feel-good hormones, helping your dog relax and feel less anxious.

3. Physical and Mental Stimulation: Matatabi sticks provide a great source of entertainment and mental enrichment for dogs. Chewing on the sticks helps relieve boredom and satisfies their natural chewing instincts. This stimulation can be especially beneficial for dogs who spend a lot of time alone or have high energy levels.

4. Training Aid: Matatabi sticks can also be used as a training aid for dogs. You can use the sticks as a reward during training sessions or as a distraction to redirect their attention from unwanted behaviors. The natural scent of Matatabi sticks can be highly motivating for dogs, making them an effective tool in obedience training.

When introducing Matatabi sticks to your dog, it’s important to monitor their behavior and ensure they are not consuming excessively. While Matatabi is generally safe for dogs, consuming large amounts may lead to stomach upset. It’s recommended to offer the sticks in moderation and supervise your dog while they enjoy this natural and stimulating toy.

Catnip Tea: Dog-Friendly Herbal Beverage

If your furry friend is a fan of herbal teas, catnip tea is a fantastic dog-friendly alternative to traditional catnip. While it may seem surprising, catnip tea can actually provide similar effects to catnip for dogs. Here’s why and how you can make it for your beloved pet.

Benefits of Catnip Tea for Dogs:

Calming effect: Catnip tea can have a soothing effect on dogs, helping to ease anxiety and promote relaxation.

Digestive aid: Catnip tea has been known to alleviate stomach upset and aid in digestion for dogs.

Mental stimulation: Just like with catnip, the aroma of catnip tea can stimulate dogs’ senses and provide mental stimulation.

How to Make Catnip Tea for Dogs:

Making catnip tea for your furry friend is a simple and straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Start by brewing a cup of catnip tea using dried catnip leaves or tea bags specifically made for pets. Be sure to use a dog-safe catnip product.

Let the tea steep for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors and beneficial compounds to infuse.

Once the tea has cooled down to room temperature, you can offer it to your dog. Use a small amount, around 1-2 tablespoons, to avoid overwhelming their system.

You can serve the catnip tea in their water bowl or in a separate dish, depending on their preference.

Precautions and Considerations:

While catnip tea is generally safe for dogs, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

Consult with your veterinarian before introducing catnip tea to your dog’s diet, especially if they have any preexisting health conditions or are taking medication.

Monitor your dog’s reaction to the tea. Some dogs may show little to no interest in catnip tea, while others may become more active or playful.

Avoid using catnip tea as a substitute for proper hydration. Ensure that your dog always has access to fresh water.

💡 key Takeaway: Catnip tea is a dog-friendly herbal beverage that can provide calming and digestive benefits, as well as mental stimulation for your furry friend. Consult with your vet and monitor their reaction to ensure it suits their individual needs.

Honeysuckle: A Safe and Playful Alternative for Dogs

If you’re looking for a safe and playful alternative to catnip for your dog, honeysuckle may be the perfect option. Dogs experience a similar euphoric response to honeysuckle as cats do to catnip. Here’s everything you need to know about using honeysuckle as a catnip alternative for your furry friend.

What is Honeysuckle?

Honeysuckle is a flowering plant that belongs to the mint family. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia. While it may be more commonly associated with its pleasant fragrance, many people are unaware of its potential effects on dogs.

How Does Honeysuckle Affect Dogs?

Similar to catnip, honeysuckle contains natural compounds that can stimulate a dog’s senses. The essential oil found in honeysuckle can produce a catnip-like effect on dogs, making it a great option for playtime and enrichment.

Where Can You Find Honeysuckle for Dogs?

Honeysuckle dog toys can be found in select pet stores or online. These toys are designed specifically to cater to a dog’s enjoyment and provide a similar experience to playing with a catnip toy. Look for toys that are made with high-quality materials and are safe for your pet to chew.

DIY Honeysuckle Toys

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can create your own honeysuckle toys for your dog. One popular method is to use a small amount of dried honeysuckle wood or powder and stuff it inside a fabric pouch. This DIY toy can engage your dog’s senses and keep them entertained for hours.

The Effects of Honeysuckle on Dogs

When dogs interact with honeysuckle, they may exhibit behaviors such as rolling, rubbing, purring, and increased playfulness. It’s important to remember that not all dogs will react the same way to honeysuckle. Some dogs may be more responsive, while others may show a milder reaction. Ultimately, it’s about finding what works best for your furry friend.

Benefits of Honeysuckle as a Catnip Alternative

Honeysuckle is a safe and natural alternative to catnip for dogs. It can provide mental and physical stimulation, promote exercise, and help alleviate stress and boredom. Incorporating honeysuckle into your dog’s playtime routine can enhance their overall well-being.

Catnip Toys and Treats: Enhancing Playtime for Dogs

If you thought catnip was only for feline friends, think again! Dogs can also enjoy the benefits of catnip-like alternatives for a fun-filled playtime. While catnip affects most cats, only a small percentage of dogs show a similar response. However, there are several catnip alternatives that can provide hours of entertainment and stimulation for your furry friend. Here are 10 dog-friendly alternatives to catnip:

1. Star Anise: This spice, commonly used in cooking, contains anethole, which gives it a scent similar to that of catnip. You can sprinkle a small amount of star anise on your dog’s toys or incorporate it into homemade treats for an added twist.

2. Valerian Root: Known for its calming properties, valerian root can have a stimulating effect on dogs. It is available in various forms, including capsules and tinctures. You can also find valerian-infused toys designed specifically for dogs.

3. Chamomile: Not only is chamomile soothing for humans, but it can also provide relaxation to dogs. You can brew a chamomile tea and pour it on your dog’s toys or use it to make frozen treats that can be enjoyed during playtime.

4. Lavender: The calming scent of lavender can have a similar effect on dogs as catnip does on cats. Consider using lavender-infused toys or essential oils to enhance your dog’s play experience.

5. Peppermint: This refreshing herb from the mint family can provide a stimulating effect on dogs. Look for peppermint-infused toys or create homemade treats with a hint of peppermint to keep your dog entertained.

6. Catnip Spray: Although dogs may not respond to catnip in the same way as cats do, some dogs may still enjoy the scent. Spraying a small amount of catnip spray on your dog’s toys can provide an intriguing and engaging play experience.

7. Honeysuckle: Similar to catnip, honeysuckle contains a compound called nepetalactone, which can elicit a response in certain dogs. Look for honeysuckle cat toys or spritz some honeysuckle spray on your dog’s playthings.


In conclusion, finding alternatives to catnip for your dog can be a fun and engaging way to keep them entertained for hours. Whether it’s a stimulating treat, an interactive toy, or a challenging puzzle, there are plenty of options out there to cater to your furry friend’s needs. By exploring these dog-friendly alternatives, you can unleash a world of fun and playtime for your beloved companion. One great option is using puzzle toys that dispense treats. These toys are not only mentally stimulating for your dog, but they also provide a tasty reward for their efforts.


Is catnip toxic to dogs?

No, catnip is not toxic to dogs. In fact, it can be a great way to keep your pet entertained and engaged. Here are 10 alternatives to catnip that are both safe and fun for dogs.

How do I make catnip tea for my dog?

To make catnip tea for your dog, pour 1 cup of warm water into a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of catnip. Stir well and give your dog the tea.

Is catnip safe for dogs?

Yes, catnip is safe for dogs. In fact, it can be a great way to keep your dog entertained and engaged. However, be sure to supervise your dog when he or she is playing with catnip, and never give your dog too much catnip at once.

What is the best alternative to catnip for dogs?

Some of the best alternatives to catnip for dogs include: Socks: Add a few socks to a Kong or other type of toy and your pup will be entertained for hours. Nuts: Nuts can be used as a treat or as a toy, and they’re also a great way to keep your dog entertained while you’re cooking. Chew Toys: A Kong filled with treats or a toy your dog can chew on can keep them entertained for hours.

What is the equivalent of catnip for dogs?

Different dogs will have different reactions to different types of compounds found in catnip. Some of the other compounds that can be used to stimulate a dog’s interest in play include: Dried fruits (e.g. raisins, apricots, bananas) Dried vegetables (e.g. carrots, celery, bell peppers) Herbs (e.g. basil, thyme) Candy (e.g.

Leave a Comment