Do Dogs Get Headaches

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do dogs get headaches

Today’s question: do dogs get headaches? The short answer: we don’t know for sure but most likely. Want to know more? Scroll down for detailed answers.

On occasion, you may have a headache or a migraine that will seemingly never end.  Headaches may come about for a variety of reasons, weather change, sinuses, dehydration, exhaustion, etc.  With headaches and migraines being so prevalent in modern society, are humans the only ones to suffer from headaches?  Perhaps you have noticed that sometimes your canine buddy may be feeling under the weather and you might have asked yourself – do dogs get headaches?

When you have a headache, you can take a pill or opt for a natural remedy to relieve the pain. Since dogs cannot talk, we do not know for sure if our canine buddy is suffering. Unless the pain your pet is feeling is excruciating and his behavior is noticeable, then you are made aware that there could be a problem.  Special veterinarians or neurologists may be able to scientifically determine if your pup is suffering from headaches.  You may be able to determine this on your own if you pay attention and look closely.

do dogs get headaches

Do Dogs Get Headaches? 

That question may seem weird at first but this only shows the high interest and compassion you have for your furry pet. There is a lot of speculation about this subject but it is believed that dogs do get headaches.  Dogs have a different genetic makeup than their human counterparts; however, dogs may suffer from similar ailments.  Dogs already develop, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, allergies, and diabetes, why exclude headaches and migraines from the list?

Generally speaking, every creature on earth, including your furry pet, goes through a wide range of different pains from time to time. As a matter of fact, dogs may suffer from headaches, migraines, and sinus headaches as well.

All living beings have the unfortunate ability to feel pain, but pain is felt and recognized on a different level depending upon the being.  A dog and a human may have different headache sensations, for example.  But how can you identify if your dog is suffering from a painful headache?  Which body language signals should puppy parents be on the look out for?

Since dogs are unable to communicate with words, we have to rely on the main symptoms that are linked to headaches in dogs. There are no definitive tests for diagnosing headaches and the veterinarians have not been able to confirm for sure that canines can suffer from this condition. However, many dogs have shown symptoms used to diagnose headaches in humans and respond to a drug used to treat humans, so veterinarians include headaches as a possibility for dogs.

On the other hand, many may argue that simply because a dog has symptoms similar to a human and seems to find relief from a similar medication, this in itself does not mean the dog has a headache.  S/he simply has a symptom and a positive reaction, which could technically mean any number of things.

If you believe your dog may be suffering from headaches and would like to look for symptoms to prove yourself right, there are quite a few symptoms to watch for and identify.  The symptoms of a headache in your dog will depend on the severity of the pain. Take the symptoms into account to make sure next time when your buddy is feeling under the weather, you can take proper care of him/her. If you notice the symptoms remain for more than a couple of days, you should schedule a visit to the vet.

Here is a list of symptoms that could indicate your furry companion may suffer from a mild or severe headache:

Increased Sensitivity to Light and Sound

If you notice your dog prefers to stay in the dark and hidden places of the room, the reclusiveness might indicate that s/he suffers from a severe headache.  Humans often notice the first symptom of a headache or migraine is sensitivity to light.  The light can trigger a part of the brain that brings upon pain; therefore, avoiding the light can reduce pain.  This is true for humans, but may also be true for dogs.

Additionally, if you observe that your dog has increased sensitivity to light (keeping his eyes partly closed when getting in contact with the light), s/he might possible have a headache.  Reducing the amount of bright light your dog is exposed to may help alleviate headache symptoms in your dog.

Walk you dog at night or in the late evening, avoiding the brightest time of day.  Have a shade near widows that your dog likes to lounge near, and be sure to have lamps covered with a lampshade.  Even if your dog does not have a headache, but has a light sensitivity in the eye, completing these steps may help your dog with light sensations.

Another indication of a headache is when your favorite companion avoids the noise of the television, loud kids, and home theatre, or isolates him/herself from the rest of the family.  Sensitivity to noise is usually a good indicator of a headache in humans; the same line of thought can be applied to dogs.

Those who have a headache prefer quiet.  Loud children and theater sounds can make a headache seem that much more challenging and may even prolong the pain.  Avoiding loud noises not only treats a headache, but may help prevent a headache as well.  Those with the most sensitivity to sound may develop headaches because of too much sound.

Reducing the amount of sound your dog is exposed to may help reduce the amount of headaches your dog develops over time.  If you notice a pattern of your dog avoiding sound, you may wish to speak to a vet and have the dog tested for these sensitivities.

Peculiar Temperament

When you have a migraine, the last thing on your mind is to be friendly and cheerful. You cannot possibly think, smile, or speak, let alone be of a cheerful and welcoming nature.  The same applies to dogs. Your most affectionate pet might suddenly present signs of irritability and may even want to bite you when suffering from excessive pain.

However, while some dogs might act aggressively when they are in pain, other dogs might ask for additional attention. This depends mostly on the dog.

In human counterparts, we are able to view people by their body language and assess whether pain is present.  There are some people who prefer to be alone, and become irritable when bothered.  Others like to simply be quiet, snuggle and have some quiet company while recovering.  Dogs are very similar in their healing patterns.

Humans tend not to bark and bite when agitated, but take this sign from a dog as one to consider.  Give your snappy dog some space, but keep the pup close enough to observe.  An extra cuddly dog may be good for you, just as the good for the dog!  A cuddly dog will give your brain the extra oxytocin and endorphins needed to have a good day full of love

Hitting the Head on the Furniture

If your dog is suffering from a severe headache, s/he may start hitting his head against the furniture or other objects in the house. The purpose of this apparently reckless action is the fact that the dog assumes that it would help him relieve the disturbing pain.  Dogs do not know what a headache is, how the pain is caused, or how to remedy the situation.

Dogs cannot grab Advil and lay down with the knowledge their pain will lessen soon.  A perfectly rational decision for a dog to relieve the pain is to ‘dislodge’ the pain from the head by banging it, rubbing it, or scratching it.  If you notice your dog behaving strangely, and in the area of his/her head, take into account the possibility of a headache.  If symptoms persist, visit your vet for possible treatments.

Refusal to Eat

If your dog refuses to eat without any apparent reason, it might imply that he feels uncomfortable and might be in pain. When your pooch has a headache or some other illness, he will most likely have no appetite.  Eating and chewing can be painful with a headache.  Crunchy kibble may also be heard in the brain when chewing, amplifying the headache that much further.

Avoiding kibble is a good indicator something is amiss with your pet.  Be sure to try and feed and water your pet, even if symptoms of headache occur.  Dehydration and low blood sugar can cause headaches, and dogs are susceptible to these issues.

Your Pooch Prefers to Stay Alone

Dogs are anything but solitary creatures. Sometimes you may need to have some time for yourself and they make it impossible for you to concentrate by keep coming to you and asking for attention. If suddenly, your playful companion shows no interest in interacting with you and prefers staying alone in a secluded corner of the house, he may be suffering from a migraine or a headache.


If you find your dog whining without an obvious reason, something might be disturbing him and that something might be a headache. Your dog’s cry is the closest behavior to speaking. However, finding the exact reason for your furry friend’s cry might be tricky, as this is the way dogs communicate with their owners.

Reacts Negatively to Your Touch

Dogs love being pampered and touched. If your dog seems disturbed by your touch or affection especially in the head or neck region then something must most certainly bother him.

Excessive Panting

Excessive panting might also be an indicator that your dog may be suffering from a headache. This behavior is something quite normal in most dogs. However, if it’s excessive, peculiar panting that happens especially in the middle of the night, then your dog might be dealing with severe pain.

Additional Physical Signs Indicating a Headache

  • Eye redness
  • Weariness
  • Lowered head
  • Head shaking
  • Unresponsive behavior
  • Trembling
  • Abnormal blinking
  • Worried appearance
  • Nasal congestion
  • Continual tearing

Possible Causes of Headaches in Dogs

  • High blood pressure
  • Allergies
  • Stress
  • Sinus congestion
  • Trauma or head injury

How to Treat Headaches in Dogs

Chiropractic method

This is one of the simplest ways to stop a headache if the cause is vertebral involvement. If your dog has suffered from a severe trauma such as fallen down, flipped over or got stuck somewhere, chiropractic methods will help with the pain and headache.


Just like for humans, acupuncture may help dogs with tension types headaches.


A gentle massage in the head region may relieve the pain. Also, using a wet cloth on the head may help to stop the headache.


Many of these symptoms may also be signs of other illnesses which makes it even harder to diagnose a possible headache. It’s also hard to know for sure how many times and how often dogs actually experience headaches. You don’t need to take your pooch to the vet every time he has a minor headache. However, if these symptoms occur on a regular basis, you may want the veterinarian examine your canine pal for other potential health problems.



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  • Ever considered that headaches/migraine in animals like dogs is caused by coming earthquakes? Symptoms of other animals have been noted exactly the same in the build up to quakes, and humans suffer the same symptoms too, except they take meds and can speak out about it. Neurology have not proven any link in humans, but animals are known to react, the two sets of symptoms are very similar so its well worth looking into.

    • Thanks, Natalie! I wish I had read YOUR post before posting my own (with one misspelling – ugh!) on canine headaches related to the dropping barometric pressure in advance of storms!

  • Please include discussion of sinus headaches related to barometric pressure. I am extremely sensitive to dropping pressure as storms approach, and my 3 year-old German Shepherd seems to track with me on that (in 46 years, she is my third – of 6 – G.Shep to so suffer). Vet-prescribed Carprofen tackles the pain – but I am wondering about Guaifenesun as a mucous-busting preventative (as I use). Thanks and Woof!

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