Everyone knows that cats love catnip, but did you know that dogs are nearly as crazy about the herb anise? In fact, foxhounds follow a trail that is created by dragging a sack that has been doused in anise oil. In greyhound racing, the artificial hare that is used to urge the dogs to run is also covered with the scent of anise. Anise has a strong licorice-like flavor and scent that most dogs find exciting.
Some dogs are more affected by anise than others, but any dog will enjoy the scent and flavor of this herb either as seeds or as an essential oil of anise.
Note: The anise that dogs find exciting is the annual herb anise—not star anise.
Can Anise Harm a Dog?
Only give dogs a small amount of anise at a time. According to the ASPCA, "a great deal of anise seed extract can rile up a dog's stomach or slightly depress its nervous system." However, sprinkling a small about on a favorite toy or putting it in a treat doesn't harm the dog.
Using Anise Seeds as Treats
The small seeds of annual anise are all you need, and they are available online if you don't grow anise at home. The seeds are easy to grind up, or they can be added whole to your dog's treat. However, be warned that if you sprinkle anise seeds in the stuffing of your dog's toys, your dog may attack and tear apart the toys. A safer way to apply the scent for energetic dogs in as an essential oil.
A few drops is all it takes. You can safely reapply when the scent fades.
How to Make Anise Essential Oil
- Crush the raw anise seed using a mortar and pestle just until the aroma and oil of the anise is released. Do not crush the seeds into powder.
- Scrap the crushed seeds and oil into a clean glass container.
- Add sweet oil to the bottle—enough to cover the anise seeds. Sweet almond oil is a good choice.
- Swirl the container around until all the anise seeds are submerged.
- Put a tight-fitting lid on the container. It must be airtight.
- Place the container in a sunny location for 2 to 4 weeks.
- Strain the contents of the container using cheesecloth to remove the anise seeds.
- Transfer the anise-infused oil into a bottle and store it in a cool place.
Scent a stuffed toy with a drop of anise and see how your pet likes it.
Other Uses for Anise Seeds
Anise seeds are often used to flavor breads, cakes, carrot dishes, curries, stews and fruit dishes. Anise is also used to flavor alcoholic beverages including ouzo, anisette, and absinthe.