If you’ve ever looked at your dog and thought that it seemed like she had a headache, or even worse, a migraine, you might have been spot-on. Why migraines have long been associated with human beings, there is increasing evidence to support the idea that dogs and other animals can suffer from headaches as well, even migraines. The question is, how do you know whether or not your dog is having a headache if she isn’t able to verbally tell you such a thing? Is there anything you can do to help her or does she simply have to ride it out until the pain subsides?
Do Dogs Get Migraines?
The very idea that dogs could suffer from migraines may sound crazy, but it does happen. Unfortunately, it isn’t yet well understood why it happens. Medical research hasn’t even pinpointed the exact reason that human beings suffer from migraines. The cause is even less well understood in dogs. That said, there is some evidence to suggest that the cause may be linked to over-stimulation of certain nerves or blood vessels near the head and neck. Anything that makes these blood vessels constrict can cause pain. The same is true when the nerves become irritated.
Why Do Dogs Get Headaches?
Just like with humans, dogs can get headaches for a variety of different reasons. The most common cause involves physical trauma to the head or neck. This can occur as the result of someone hitting the dog, a fall, a fight with another dog, or even being struck by a car. In short, anything that causes trauma can result in a headache. In addition to physical trauma, headaches can also occur as a result of illness. Like people, some dogs have a tendency to experience headaches more frequently than others. For owners of these dogs, it is a good idea to learn how to help pets when they are in pain.
Unfortunately, it is possible for dogs to start getting headaches because of tumors. The tumors may or may not be cancerous. However, they can cause severe pain if they start pressing on the nerves or blood vessels of the brain. Problems can also stem from pressure on the brain itself. Last but certainly not least, the headaches may be occurring as a result of some type of neurological problem that your dog is experiencing. A headache is just one symptom that can result from these types of issues. Other symptoms include walking in circles, pressing the head against a hard object, or lashing out uncharacteristically.
Can Feeding the Wrong Food Cause Headaches?
If you or someone close to you gets migraines, you probably already know that eating certain foods can trigger an episode. Is the same thing true when it comes to your dog? It really should come as no surprise that some dogs seem to experience an uptick in headaches when they eat certain foods. This is especially true if your dog is allergic to some of the foods that you’re feeding. It can be difficult to pin down, but the best rule of thumb is to closely monitor your dog whenever she experiences the signs of a migraine. Keep a written list of everything that she has eaten so that you can go back and look over that list. Over time, you might start to notice that there are certain foods that have been fed within the last 24 hours that seem to be associated with headaches. Eliminating those foods one at a time may reduce the number of episodes she experiences. If you’re really fortunate, it might even eliminate them altogether. Learning how to feed your dog a healthy diet and adjust it to her specific needs is one of the most important aspects of pet ownership.
Is a Migraine Just a Bad Headache?
A lot of people think that a migraine is just a headache that feels more severe than what many people would coin a “normal” headache. In truth, comes with a lot of other symptoms that a normal headache doesn’t have. The symptoms include nausea, dizziness, an inability to deal with sound or light, and severe vertigo. It’s important to note that dizziness and vertigo are also two different things. When a person or animal experiences vertigo, it becomes virtually impossible for them to move their head without becoming dizzy and disoriented. While a normal headache and a migraine have many similarities, these are the key differences. It is believed that those differences are much the same in both pets and humans.
Signs That Your Dog Has a Migraine
If your dog has a migraine, she might be exhibiting certain symptoms that could give you a clue that something isn’t quite right. For example, she may not be particularly interested in playing or going outside, even if she routinely enjoys doing these things. By the same token, she may not want to eat anything for several hours. Some dogs have a tendency to want to be left alone so they can simply get some rest. These dogs tend to sleep more than usual. You may even notice your dog sleeping with her eyes open. Try not to become concerned about this, as it is completely normal. Other dogs become extremely anxious when they have a headache, especially when the problem involves a migraine. They might start to pace or lick excessively. In extreme cases, the dog may even growl or show her teeth when someone approaches pet her. Many dogs who are experiencing headaches have a natural tendency to avoid light.
How Can You Help Your Dog?
Obviously, there are certain things that you can do if your dog is experiencing a migraine. For starters, it’s important to try to get to the bottom of things and find out why migraines are occurring in the first place. That will go a long way toward helping you figure out how best to deal with the situation. As previously mentioned, keep a journal that details what your dog has had to eat in the last 24 hours. Know any other differences such as extremes in temperature or changes in the environment that could be responsible for the issue. If anything is different from your normal daily routine, note it and then take those notes to the vet when you have your dog examined. Whenever your dog is actively experiencing a migraine, do the same thing you would do for yourself or a loved one in a similar situation. Keep the noise level down and make the room as dark as possible. If your dog wants to be comforted, give her the attention she craves. If she would prefer to be left alone, allow her to have the space she needs.
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can remember is that you shouldn’t panic if your dog has a migraine. It’s definitely something that you should work closely with her veterinarian on, but it’s important not to jump to the worst possible scenario right away. It’s far more likely that the headaches are a direct result of something that can be remedied with time and effort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do dogs get migraines?
Yes, dogs get headaches and even migraines. When they do, they experience many of the same symptoms that human beings do.
Do dogs get headaches from barking?
While dogs don’t routinely get headaches from barking, a dog that has become overexcited and has barked non-stop for some time may very well experience a headache. If she does, it’s likely much more about the overstimulation and anxiety as opposed to the physical act of barking.
Do animals experience headaches?
As previously mentioned, dogs do experience headaches. It is also believed that other animals also experience them in much the same way that dogs and human beings do. While it can be more difficult to diagnose headaches in animals than in humans, the anatomy of many animals resembles humans closely enough that it can be assumed that headaches occur in much the same manner.