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.
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.
- Dentistry: For teeth issues.
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.
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.
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.