Do Dogs Get Headaches? (Causes, Symptoms And Treatment)

Do Dogs Get Headaches?
Written by Graeme Hall

A question that's been asked a few times recently on our social media page is, do dogs get headaches? The quick answer is yes.

Even though there is a lot of speculation about a dog headache, it's widely believed by many veterinarians they are indeed possible. Dogs have a different genetic makeup compared to us humans, but that doesn't mean that they don't share many similar ailments such as migraines, fever, diabetes, and high blood pressure to name just a few.

The problem with your dog having a headache is you don't know if they're actually suffering from one, unlike humans who can just swallow a pill or opt for a natural remedy to relieve the pain, dogs can’t talk, so they have no way of telling us they’re suffering.

As a loving dog owner, it would be great if you could diagnose if your dog is suffering from a migraine or a headache and hopefully ease their pain.

The good news is that in this article we will cover the basics about dog headaches, including the causes, the symptoms and simple ways to treat them. After reading this, you should have a better understanding of why dogs get headaches and how to tell if your dog has one.

What Causes Headaches in Dogs?

Trying to understand what has caused your dog to suffer from a headache only goes to show the amount of love and compassion you have for your furry pet. Take a minute to think about what gives you a headache, and I'm sure noise, allergies, and stress will be at the top of your list.

Dogs, like humans, can also get headaches from excess noise, allergies (yes dogs suffer from seasonal allergies) and stress, while your dog may not experience stress in the same way as you do, stress in dogs can still be a contributing factor to the development of a headache or a migraine.

Noise, allergies, and stress are some common causes of a dog headache - however, that doesn't mean there aren't other potential ways a dog can get a pounding head.

Here are other common causes.

  • Dental hygiene: if your pooch is suffering from dental problems.
  • Sinus congestion: blocked sinus can be a cause for a dog headache.
  • High blood pressure: common in overweight dogs.
  • The side effect of medications: certain drugs can trigger a pounding head in dogs.
  • Physical trauma to the neck or head: just like humans, trauma to the head or neck area can cause a headache.
  • Strong odors or perfumes: you may think your new perform smells great but your pooch could be suffering.

​​​​​​​​​​​​To be honest, the list could go on, but sometimes it isn't obvious as to what's causing the headache. So look around and try to work out if anything has changed in your dog’s normal environment, often something small can be the trigger.

can dogs get headaches and migraines?

If you think your furry buddy is suffering from a pounding head and you cannot find the cause, it’s best to get your dog checked by your local veterinarian.

How Do You Know If Your Dog Has a Headache?

You're probably wondering, how can you tell if your dog has a headache? Understanding the telltale signs and symptoms of a dog headache can mean the difference between a trip to the vets or letting your dog out to pee, surprisingly the signs can often be the same.

Because your dog can’t communicate directly to you, you need to understand your dog's body language and other changes in their behavior to determine if their head hurts or if they have other health issues. Most of us will notice straight away when our dog is acting differently. We all know the look and either they've left you a gift on the rug, or they could be suffering from a pounding head or other ailments.

If you believe your dog is suffering from a headache and would like to look for symptoms to prove yourself right, there are quite a few signs to watch out for and identify. However, many veterinarians understand the symptoms of when a dog headache, below are some of the most common telltale signs.

  • Head tilting to one side or shaking.
  • Increased sensitivity to light or sound.
  • Changes in posture and body language.
  • Withdraws when touched, may avoid contact altogether.
  • Restlessness or hyperactivity.
  • Lowered head position.
  • Ataxia, or in extreme cases a loss of control over bodily movements.
  • Increased panting or sweating.
  • Unusually irritable or aggressive behavior.
  • Not responding to sounds or your commands.
  • May also try to press their head against the wall or furniture.
  • Eyes are squinted and brows furrowed.
  • Refusing food and showing no interest in going on a walk.

The symptoms of a headache will depend on the severity of the pain. If you notice that your dog is showing any of the above symptoms it could be a sign they have a headache. But many of these symptoms can also be a sign of other ailments so diagnosing a dog headache from these alone can be tricky. 

If in doubt we recommend that you take your furry buddy to the vet where they can correctly diagnose exactly what is causing your dog to act strangely.

treatment for dog headache

Dog Headache Treatment

Because your pooch can't directly communicate their discomfort, you need to pay particular attention to any changes in their behavior. However, if your dog is suffering from a headache or other health issues, you need to be careful because some dogs can become overly aggressive when they’re in pain.

So what’s the best dog headache treatment, what can you do to ease their pounding head? In most cases, dog headache treatment should focus on the underlying cause.

Dental problems in dogs are more common than you think, especially if your dog gets spoilt with “human food” regularly that’s often loaded with sugar. When your pooch has a painful tooth or abscess, it’s almost always followed by headaches and migraines. If you think your dog's teeth could be the reason for their headache, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for deep cleaning or even extraction.

If your dog has suffered from physical injury, a headache is a common side effect, just like humans when we're in pain a pounding head will follow. If this is the case with your dog you've probably already visited your vet for treatment of the trauma, your vet will have most likely prescribed some sort of painkiller which will ease a headache.

Unfortunately, some dogs are more prone to getting headaches than others, and it could be linked to an underlying issue such as their spine or joints. Luckily many veterinary chiropractors can help to relieve any tension in your dog, even a simple adjustment on your dog's spine can contribute to relieving a headache. 

In fact, this type of chiropractic treatment in dogs can have success rates of up to 90%, particularly in cases where physical injury is a headache causing factor.

Surprisingly, acupuncture is gaining popularity as being an alternative dog headache treatment by relieving the symptoms which are triggering the migraines in your pooch. Increasingly more pet owners are looking for a home remedy for dog pain and are turning to homeopathic remedies for a dog headache.

However, as a pet owner you need to be careful, you're entering into unknown territory, and many natural herbs can be toxic to your dog, even though they are safe for humans. Sure you'll find some that can ease the pain in your dog but research, research and then research some more, you don’t want to make the mistake of giving your dog something that can cause harm.

Still not convinced? More information can be found here along with a real-life case study of a 5-year-old female, Cocker Spaniel.

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About the author

Graeme Hall

Graeme is the founder of Doggytastic! which is where he blogs about dog training, health, nutrition and anything else related to keeping a dog happy and healthy. Want to know a little bit more? Make sure to check out his full bio.

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