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Do Dogs Get Headaches?

Do Dogs Get Headaches?

Author WDF Staff

25.05.2021.


Getting a headache is one of the worst feelings in the world. If you often have headaches, you are probably aware of just how irritating and painful they can be. It is no wonder we worry about our dogs and wonder, “Do dogs get headaches?”

Unfortunately, headache is not something that can only bother us. Dogs can get headaches as well. Dogs have a similar brain structure as we do. Before we get a bit deeper into this topic, we should understand how humans get headaches and how doctors diagnose them.

Human headache

The brain is the center of our nervous system, and it recognizes and informs us about pain in our whole body. We have millions of nerves and blood vessels around the brain and in the neck, and when they contract or swell, headaches occur. They are incredibly uncomfortable, and some are so intense we can throw up and be completely incapacitated.

When doctors diagnose it and try to find the root of the problem, they ask us different questions about the sensations and pain we are feeling. What time of the day do headaches start, where are they located, did we suffer any trauma, etc. All of this information will help the doctor determine why headaches are happening and what we can do to prevent them from developing in the future.

Can dogs get headaches?

There aren’t many studies that confirm or completely deny the existence of canine headaches, and it is a topic still open for debate. However, most veterinarians agree that dogs can experience headaches. The main problem is that we cannot communicate with dogs. There is no way of finding out what sensations they are experiencing and whether or not they actually have a headache.

sick dog

However, based on their brain structure that is similar to ours, there is no reason a dog might not experience the same issues with contracting nerves and blood vessels that cause human headaches.

Sense of smell

Dogs have a sensitive nose, and when it comes to dog headaches, many veterinarians believe the main reason dogs get headaches is intense scents. Dogs have incredibly powerful olfactory receptors, and it takes a lot less to upset their brains than ours. Intense, irritating scents like perfumes or cleaning products can cause a dog to have a headache.

How can I know if my dog has a headache?

Being worried about your dog’s health is entirely natural, and you probably don’t want your dog to feel pain of any kind. Before we can help our dog, we need to understand and determine they are actually in pain. There are some symptoms we can look for to determine if our dogs are in pain. Some dog headache symptoms are;

  • Light sensitivity
  • Temple throbbing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reaction on being touched on the head
  • Low energy (napping, resting) 
  • Pacing or licking

If you notice some of these symptoms and your vet agrees your dog might have a headache, here are some easy ways you can help them - Pain medication for dogs.

What causes a dog headache?

Just like in humans, dog headaches can be caused by different things. Many vets claim that intense, irritating smells are the main reason. However, they are the only cause of canine headaches. Other things that can cause a canine headache are;

  • Allergic reactions
  • Too much exercise (intense head movement)
  • Illnesses like the flu or cold
  • Overheating

How can I help my dog?

If you think your dog has a headache, you should call your vet and let them know what symptoms you noticed and why you think your dog might have a headache. They will recommend you bring your dog in for a check-up, or they will let you know what you can do at home for your dog. One of the things you can do is give your dog pain medication. However, going straight for meds is not always the best option. There are other things you can do, especially if your dog has chronic headaches or migraines. Some of those things are;

  • Be extremely gentle and avoid petting them on the head
  • Ensure your dog has a quiet, dark resting place
  • Make sure family members don’t disturb your dog
  • Apply hot or cold compress on the dog’s head or neck
  • Make sure the dosage of medication is correct, especially for meds like Aspirin

In conclusion

Headaches are uncomfortable for dogs, just as they are uncomfortable for humans. As a responsible owner, you should keep an eye on your dog and make sure they are not exhibiting signs of pain and discomfort. If you notice pain symptoms in your dog, you should call your vet and let them know what is going on. Do whatever you can to help your dog overcome the pain, and make sure they are not overly disturbed in the recovery process.

World Dog Finder team

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