dog headache

Do Dogs Get Headaches?

dog headache

Can dogs get a headache, and if so, how would we, their human counterparts know they were in pain?

According to the National Headache Foundation, there are an estimated 45 million human headache sufferers in the United States. I one of those statistics as an adult sufferer of the occasional migraine despite preventative measures taken to stop them. My head hurts, I can tell someone, call a doctor, run a test, and get a diagnosis. Poof, just like that. Not so with dogs.

Talkin Noggin

Consider the olfactory receptors of a dog, which are 20X stronger in dogs than they are in humans. So if a scent bothers a dog’s olfactory senses in the way a certain scent bothers our allergies or senses, then dogs can get headaches or sinus pressure/pain from less than pleasant scents.

The Integrative Vet Care Journal points out a study they performed:

  • Hyper reactive to or averse to touch (specific to head or poll or neck; from shoulder forward); generalized to whole body in strong headache
  • Defensive behavior upon approach (dog cringes, horse pins back ears)
  • Hyperactive (in horses – nibbling, can’t stand quietly in stall/cross ties, paces in paddock), (in dogs – paces in pen, house or yard)
  • Ataxia, clumsy, unresponsive
  • Sweating on forehead or ears (horse)
  • Lowered head or elevated head posture
  • Vertebral /chiropractic misalignment of mainly scull/atlas and /or atlas/axis connection
  • Reactivity to craniosacral work along scull sutures or poll
  • Hard to halter or collar
  • Hard to groom and tack up
  • Skittish, irritable, aggressive, spooky
  • Head shaking, head pressing, or staring
  • Furrowed brows, squinty eyes, worried look, frequent blinking, distressed or dull expression
  • Tight mouth/jaw
  • Incomplete full body shakes
  •  Seeks a quiet corner by himself

Headaches, VCA deduced, could be induced by any number of factors, including:

Jerking on dog’s collar

External weather factors

There are many schools of thought that dogs do, indeed, get headaches. I am, therefore, pro making the dog feel better and eradicating the headache in the safest most non-invasive way possible.

Some Headache Treatments Include:

  • Acupuncture to relieve tension-type headache.
  • Homeopathy:
  • Dentistry: For teeth issues.
  • Massage

mudy dog


 In a piece published by petMD, there are indications that a pet can get migraines. After all, A 5-year-old female, neutered Cocker Spaniel was brought to the Royal Veterinary College teaching hospital for episodes of vocalizations and fear behavior lasting 2-4 hours and extending up to 3 days. In addition to the vocalization, the owners noted hypersalivation, hiding, and avoidance behaviors.

Tests were run and doctors then put her on a drug used to treat human migraines, called topiramate. “After initiation of topiramate, the episodes became shorter. With dosage adjustments, vocalization during the episodes ceased, she was eager to exercise, and showed no light or sound sensitivity,” they say.

 Bottom Line

 Because there are no definitive tests for diagnosing migraine, we can only surmise if our pets suffer as we do with headaches. I believe many dogs do get headaches or even migraines. Maybe those long naps or dark areas of the house feel good on his eyes, head, and overall psyche.

relax dog

Personally, I give my dog a complete rub down daily and that includes gently massaging his scalp. His puppy dog eyes close and he seems to really enjoy the gentle session with me.

Dr. Karen Becker has an in-deep analysis about one cocker spaniel with migraines and the quite invasive medical treatments he received. What would you have done?


So What Do You Think: Do dogs get migraines? From where we stand, headaches definite seem to affect our canine pals. If notice any behavioral irregularities, seek veterinary care, as a whole slew of issues could be brewimg.



  1. I never thought of it to be honest….interesting thought! Ziva may suffer from headaches occasionally…I notice sometimes she’s kinda grumpy or in a bad mood. But I think that may just be moodiness, she doesn’t have any other symptoms. 🙂

  2. I have never consider it. I do know that when Bentley has ear infections, he likes to put his head on my lap let me me love on him. He is currently suffering from a yest infection in both ears. His head MUST hurt. Bless his heart. ♥ My son and husband both get migraines although they have lessened with age. My boy used to get severe migraines as a child. It is heartbreaking.

    1. Awww poor Bentley. I always wondered this and until the day comes dog can actually say “hey, Mom, my head hurts,” it seems that evidence points they can and do get headaches. I just wish they could tell us. Sigh. Hugs and feel better, Bentley!

  3. I think it’s likely that dogs could get headaches. They just can’t tell you! Both my dogs have days where they seem a bit under the weather or tired. Maybe they get the occasional headache like I do after a late night 🙂

  4. ik would never have thought abt this but it does make sense. i get migraines several times a wk and cant even function. very interesting.

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