Valerian for dogs: uses, indications and precautions for use

How can valerian help our dogs? In what form should it be administered and to treat what problems?

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Valerian, a plant with sedative properties

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.) is a large perennial herb very common in Europe and North Asia that grows in wet mid-mountain meadows. It has a hollow stem, rosette leaves and white or pink flowers grouped in terminal cymes.

More than its appearance, it is especially recognizable by its smell which is reminiscent of that of cat urine due to the isovaleric acid released during the degradation of some of these active ingredients. As this scent attracts felids, valerian is also commonly called “catnip”.

Valerian has been used for hundreds of years as a medicinal plant because it was believed to have anti-infective properties. Nowadays, it is known to have sedative or even slightly anxiolytic properties in herbal medicine.

The active principles of interest in valerian are found in its root parts consisting of the rhizome of the plant, its adventitious roots and its stolons.

What are the indications for valerian in dogs?

Valerian root contains many active ingredients that give the plant sedative, anxiolytic, muscle relaxant and spasmolytic activity.

It can therefore be used in dogs that suffer:

  • behavioral disorders with anxiety and agitation, in addition to behavioral therapy to facilitate its application,
  • sleep disorders with nocturnal wanderings as may be the case in older dogs suffering from cognitive dysfunction syndrome or involutional depression,
  • contractures and muscle tension,
  • epilepsy or epileptiform disorders, in addition to conventional treatment.


Never administer a plant medicine to your animal without having consulted a specialized veterinarian beforehand and all the more so if your dog is already under medical treatment in order to avoid any drug interaction. Valerian should also not be used in pregnant or lactating females or in very young animals.

How to use valerian in dogs?

Veterinarians specializing in herbal medicine administer valerian mainly in the form of capsules of micronized powder and standardized fluid extract (or EPS).

You can also use valerian root, the active ingredients of which have been extracted by decoction, but in this form it is much less easy to administer to the dog.

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