Can Dogs Get Headaches? 9 Signs Your Dog May Have A Sore Head

It is said that a pet can look like its owner. They may share hair color or facial features, or even how they both are able to gulp down a steak in a similar way. But dogs may have a bit more in common with humans than we think. By looking at a dog’s genetic makeup, let’s answer the question: “Can dogs get headaches?”

Similar to when your pup has allergies or gets a cold, dogs can also show signs of headaches. Things such as nausea, frequent napping, or avoiding any physical activity are all signs that your dog’s head hurts.

Let’s look at some of the causes of a dog’s headache, the signs we can see when they happen, and possible ways to treat their headaches.

Can Dogs Get Headaches?

Although there are only a few studies that have been conducted to demonstrate that dogs can get headaches, many veterinarians agree that they are very much possible. But to fully understand how headaches in dogs occur, it is important to know how headaches occur in humans.

The brain acts as an informer of pain, which channels that information through the body. So when certain items in the body such as nerves, blood vessels, and muscles are constricted or begin to swell, pain in the head is induced, thus a headache.

For dogs, this process is similar because of their similar genetic makeup of nerves and blood vessels to humans. Despite having similar bodily functions to humans, the veterinary community is still unable to concretely determine if dogs get headaches. This is because of our furry friend’s inability to vocalize their pain and where it comes from.

With that being said, many animal experts believe that there is good reason to believe that headaches are possible in dogs. Dogs have a more powerful olfactory receptor (sense of smell) than humans, which is one of the key reasons known to cause dog headaches.

Can Dogs Get Migraines?

Migraines are a more intense kind of headache induced by sensitivity to light and sound and can result in nausea and throbbing head pain. With similar internal functions as humans, dogs are suspected of getting migraines as well.

As with any headache, it is best to determine the root cause of the migraine and try to remove the stressor from the dog’s environment. These things can include bright light, loud noises, and other unappreciated external factors that may induce a migraine.



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Dog with a cold compress for comfort 

Are Headaches Common in Dogs?

Headaches can be a common occurrence in dogs that experience stressful situations or get nervous easily. Especially older and fragile dogs may tend to be more sensitive to loud noises and bright lights, leading to more headaches.

Dogs that have some underlying health issues may also be more prone to headaches. These issues can be things such as allergies, head trauma, and other health conditions. Allergies can bring about constant sneezing and irritation of sinuses which can cause headaches.

Every dog breed is unique, and experiences head pain in different ways. So it is best to check in with your vet to determine if your dog is prone to getting headaches and what procedures you should take to combat them.

What Causes a Dog to Get a Headache?

Just like humans, dogs can get headaches for many reasons. Unfortunately, dogs cannot vocalize the source of their problems, so it can be not easy to help them in their time of need. But here are a few possible causes for a dog’s headache.

Allergies

Whether it is certain smells, foods, or the weather, dogs can get allergies that can result in a headache. Dog’s olfactory receptors are much stronger than humans and can cause much frustration when they come in contact with certain allergens.

Overheating

When the weather begins to get warmer, dogs may suffer from heat exhaustion if they are not hydrated. In addition to the possible chance of overheating, dogs can also suffer head pain due to the heat. If your dog begins to show symptoms such as panting, dry gums, salivating, vomiting, and an increase in pulse, you should bring your dog inside and try to cool them down.

Related: How to Get a Dog to Drink Water: 5 Simple Ways to Hydrate Your Pup

Cold or Flu

When humans get sick with the cold or flu, we tend to want to sleep in all day because of a throbbing headache that usually ensues. The same thing goes for dogs. When our canine friends get sick, they could constantly be sneezing or fatigued, which are all telltale signs your pup is experiencing headaches.

Stress

Although dogs experience many different stresses than humans do, many things can cause a headache. Loud noises, bright lights, strangers, new environments can all be just some of the reasons your pet feels uncomfortable and irritated.

Excessive Activity

Too much physical activity can also be a cause of a dog headache. Sometimes when your dog is playing just a little too rough or is running around for a long period of time, their body can heat up and eventually lead to a headache or migraine.

Can Dogs Get Headaches from Barking?

Depending on the severity of the barking and the amount of time they spend barking, this can be a potential cause of a dog headache. Barking is a rather physical and strenuous activity that exerts a lot of energy, so, understandably, too much barking can lead to a headache.

Especially since barking comes with constant head motion, this could cause head and neck irritation. If your dog barks a lot, you may want to train them to not bark as often or find the root cause of what they are barking at and remove it.

owner taking care of disgruntled dog

Signs Your Dog Has a Headache

Now that we understand some of the potential causes of a dog’s headache, here are a few symptoms to look out for if your pet’s head hurts.

 

  • Hyperactivity or trouble staying still
  • Sensitivity to light / seeking out dark places
  • Aggressiveness
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Depleted appetite 
  • Not wanting to be touched or pet on the head
  • Constant napping
  • Throbbing temples
  • Clumsiness

Depending on how severe the headache is, your dog may experience one or several of these symptoms. Headaches are not fatal and usually do not last for long periods of time, but keeping your dog comfortable and feeling protected is the best route to take to avoid the situation getting any worse.

What Can You Do If a Dog Has a Headache?

Each dog that experiences headaches may have a certain routine or method that helps them ease their hurt head. Here are several things you can do to help treat your dog’s headaches.

Create a Safe Space

If your dog is experiencing any stress, such as loud noises, creating a safe space for your dog can help reduce their chance of getting a headache. Find an area in your home where they are comfortable and do not feel threatened; give them items with their scent. With their scent and your tender care, they can feel a sense of familiarity and trust. Then let them take the time they need to recover.

Give Your Dog Space

Along with creating a safe space, giving your dog some space while experiencing a headache can be helpful. Depending on their personality, dogs sometimes want to be left alone to deal with their issues solo. As much as you would like to help your pup suffering through a headache, sometimes the best thing to do is provide them with all the comfort they need and let them ride it out independently.

Hot or Cold Compress

For a human, using a hot or cold compress on the forehead can help reduce any pain in the head. This also works for dogs. If you notice any symptoms that your dog could be having a headache, a hot or cold compress can help reduce the tension in your dog’s neck and head while calming them down.

CBD

If you want to calm your dog down during their head pain episode, why not try some CBD? Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound derived from the hemp plant known to provide soothing effects to the body. And because CBD does not contain any THC, your pup will not experience any intoxicating effects.

At HolistaPet, we have a wide range of CBD products for animals, including CBD calming chews. These chewy snacks are made with 100% all-natural flavors and broad-spectrum CBD to help keep those pesky headaches at bay.

Final Thoughts – Can Dogs Get Headaches?

As humans, we all know how dreadful headaches can be, and the last thing we want for our pets is to see them suffer through the same thing. Although headaches in dogs are generally normal, it is important to recognize the symptoms to prevent the situation from getting worse. 

So whether you take your pup to the vet, provide a safe space for them to hide, or give them some CBD to calm them down, dog headaches are manageable with the right treatment and care.



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