It’s fragrant, tasty, and often referred to as dog nip — if you guessed that we’re talking about anise, you’d be correct. This fragrant herb is an offshoot of the parsley family and is renowned for its culinary and medicinal properties. Today, we’ll be talking about the uses and safety of this annual herb and discuss some delicious dog treat recipes that make use of its seeds.
It’s important to mention that the anise we’ll be discussing isn’t star anise, but rather the flowering herb that pollinators love. Anise is sometimes called sweet cumin or aniseed and is a leggy plant with small white blossoms all over it. The seeds of this plant have a slightly spicy licorice-like taste. Many skincare products like soap and perfumes use anise due to its fragrant qualities.
Little research is available on the benefits of anise for dogs, aside from its psychoactive properties — though this herb has long helped combat gas and smelly breath in humans. The use of anise dates back at least 4,000 years to Egypt, where Egyptians used it for medicine and perfumes. The uses of anise were documented in Greek texts, too, stating it could cure anything from tooth pain to thirst.
Anise is often compared to catnip, and for a good reason. Dogs respond to anise products much like cats respond to catnip, though there are some differences. The effects of catnip only last about 15 minutes, whereas the effects of anise can be felt by dogs for close to 4 hours.
Like catnip, the effects of anise differ from dog to dog. Some dogs get hyper and playful when they ingest anise, whereas others mellow out and may become lazy. The effects of anise largely depend on a dog’s temperament, age, and body composition. It doesn’t take much to produce results — just 4 or 5 anise seeds sprinkled on food is enough to elicit a response from most dogs.
The use of anise seed in dog food isn’t a new one. In fact, many dog trainers use it to stimulate canines to do their best work. Police dog trainers will often give their dogs anise products to gear them up for drug detection. The use of anise oil is common in dog racing too, and trainers will often slather it on obstacles before a race to keep dogs engaged while running.
In moderation, anise is completely safe for dogs, but it’s important they don’t overdo it. Large amounts of anise can cause stomach upset and, in rare cases, more serious problems like suppressed nerve function. To be on the safe side, you should only give your dog the equivalent of 4 or 5 seeds per serving of treats.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into some tasty anise seed recipes for dogs. We’re keeping it simple with recipes that any pet parent can do no matter their experience level.
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 cup grated carrot
- 2 tbsp powdered anise seed
- Place your anise seeds in a spice grinder and blend until they reach a powdery consistency.
- Preheat your oven to 350° F.
- Combine your wheat flour and oatmeal and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, mix together all other ingredients.
- Gently fold your wet mixture into your dry mixture.
- Dust a flat surface with your wheat flour and turn out your dough onto your surface.
- Roll your dough to an even thickness and cut out your individual treats with cookie cutters.
- Place your cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and delicious.
- 5 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups of whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon of anise seed
- Roughly chop or grind your anise seed into a chunky powder.
- Heat your oven to 350° F.
- While your oven is preheating, poke holes in your sweet potato with a fork until you have puncture marks all over it. Place the sweet potato in the microwave and heat for 6 to 8 minutes until soft.
- Remove the skin from the sweet potato.
- Using an electric mixer, mix your cooked sweet potato, peanut butter, and eggs until thoroughly combined.
- Gradually incorporate your flour and anise powder a little at a time while you mix.
- Flour your hands and knead the mixture until it forms a ball.
- Roll out your dough on a floured surface until it reaches a quarter inch in thickness and cut into desired shapes.
- Place your treats on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook in your preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Check on your cookies regularly and pull them out once the edges start to brown.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup butter softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons anise seed
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Heat your oven to 350° F.
- Combine the above ingredients together and mix until the dough reaches a dense and sticky consistency.
- Grab small pieces of the dough (about the size of a large olive), roll them into a ball and place on a greased baking sheet
- Once you’ve formed and placed all your balls, gently flatten them with a fork.
- Bake for 15 minutes, let cool, and serve!