Do Dogs Get Headaches?


Dogs share many characteristics with humans, one of which is their susceptibility to a number of diseases. You can get a fever, your dog could have it, too. You could get allergies, Fido can have them as well. Humans get cancer. Dogs could have it, too. But what about headaches? We don’t hear about this all the time. So, is there really such a thing as a doggie headache? Find out in today’s post!

Can Dogs Get Headaches?

Yes, believe it or not, our furry little friends also experience headaches just like humans. Like us, dogs also perceive pain and that is enough reason that they can also suffer from headaches. The only thing that sets us apart from our fur babies is that they are not capable enough to tell when they are hurting. Unlike you, he cannot express that he is suffering from a headache and he needs medication.

A study by the Royal Veterinary College in 2013, published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine revealed how dogs seem to react positively after taking headache medications. This study only goes to show that migraines or headaches are not just a human thing. Canines are not an exception to this kind of pain.

In the study, a five-year-old female dog was displaying symptoms of a migraine that lasted for roughly three days. The vets observed the changes in behavior, including the preference to hide, being too sensitive to the things she heard and salivating excessively.

After the physical exam, the vets ruled out that it was a case of a canine migraine. They gave the dog topiramate, which is a human medication for migraines. Eventually, the episodes of migraine were reduced. The vocalization that was seen during the episodes also stopped when they increased the dosage.

The female dog was no longer hiding in the dark likeshe used to dobut was now eager to move around. Unlike when she was suffering from a headache, the dog is no longer sensitive to sounds or to being touched by her owners.

As a dog owner, you surely know how pets express their affection. They will lay on your feet or simply want to be next to you. But dogs are not really good at expressing pain. For them, it is better to hide the pain because it allows them to be more in control of the situation. Expressing pain will make them look vulnerable to potential threats.

What Are the Symptoms of Canine Headache?

It is actually difficult to tell when a dog has a headache. After all, they cannot talk and point to their head when it is painful. Therefore, you have to observe how your dog is doing. There will be a few changes in his routine that will signal that he is a bit under the weather and he needs your help.

  • Consistent howling and tearing
  • Prefers to be alone rather thanaccompanied
  • Sleeps longer than usual
  • Does not want to be touched
  • Suddenly becomes slow-moving or inactive
  • Walks or moves less

If your dog is usuallyfun and hyperactivebut suddenly became lonely, it could be an indication that he is not feeling well. In this case, it is possible that he is suffering from a headache. Do note that these are just the usual symptoms to watch out for. There might be a few more changes in your pup’s behavior.

Aside from an increased sensitivity to their environment, dogs with headaches also display a lack of interest in food. If your pet resists his peat all of a sudden and feels the need to be isolated, it might be his way of expressing that he’s under the weather.

What Causes Headaches in Dogs?

There are many possible causes for canine headache. The most common cause is a trauma to the head or the neck. An intense physical activity usually causes this. If your dog is exhausted because of heat, he could suffer from a migraine. An inappropriate crate could also result in migraines. In some instances, dogs develop headaches after a dental treatment.

Aside from these, the environment also plays a role in the reasons why dogs get headaches. If they are placed in an area where they can inhale chemicals, then they are more prone to getting a migraine. Being exposed to pesticides and carbon monoxide can be the culprit.

Sometimes, a canine’s poor diet is to blame for their headaches. When there is a high amount of nitrite in their diet, they can easily get a migraine. Food containing lots of additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) can trigger headaches because they contain substances that can dilate the blood vessels. Therefore, you should avoid giving your pet foods that are loaded with additives and food preservatives.

Processed meats such as hot dogs, pepperoni, and sausages are all loaded with food preservatives. Dogs love all kinds of meat but these heavily processed ones are as bad for them as they are for humans. Make sure that you only provide your pet with high-quality meat. Apart from meat, consider fruits and veggies for your pet. If your pet is on a type of commercial dog food, make sure that it was recommended by your vet.

Treatments for Dog Headache

In the event that all the symptoms are present, take the dog to a vet for a physical examination. Depending on the results of the tests, your vet could administer topiramate. The common brand names for topiramate are Topamax and Topiragen.

There is no veterinary formulation of topiramate so your doctor will likely prescribe these human meds. They are safe for dogs but some animals experience side effects after using them so better administer them with care.

Do note that topiramate should not be given to pets with a known allergy to it. Likewise, you should avoid administering it to your pet if he has a liver or kidney problem. In case your dog is pregnant or currently nursing, you have to let your vet know because it may be too risky to give it to them. This may have an effect on the unborn or nursing puppies.

Besides conventional medicines, you can also follow a holistic approach to treating your dog’s headache. Acupuncture works in dogs with tension-type headache. It is often done in treating arthritis and joint inflammation as well.

The Bottom Line

A migraine or a headache exists in dogs, too. As you read, there is no reliable diagnostic exam that can tell for sure that your dog has a headache. But from that study in 2013, we can conclude that it’s not impossible for dogs to suffer from migraines, too. It really helps that you know your dog very well because a change in his behavior is the usual indicator of a headache. Observing your dog closely will be the only way to tell that he is suffering from a migraine.


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