Written by Emily Bayne
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 06/01/2021, edited: 10/04/2022
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.
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