It’s sometimes hard to know if dogs experience pain because they are experts at hiding it. But research has shown that dogs experience all kinds of conditions and ailments just like we do. So do dogs get headaches too?
The short answer is yes! Dogs may not show us exactly what’s happening inside their bodies, but there are still ways to tell if your dog has a headache. There are also ways to help alleviate their discomfort naturally and inside your own home! Read on to find out how to help your pup.
What is a Headache?
A headache is when you feel a throbbing or pounding in your head or uncomfortable pressure. This could be in the front of your head, the back of your head, or even around your neck area.
Headaches occur when specific nerves send pain signals to the brain. These signals interact with the blood vessels and muscles surrounding the brain. These causes below may trigger nerves causing headaches:
- Change in eating habits
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Alcohol use
- Eye, neck, or back strain caused by poor posture
- Change in weather
- Overusing certain muscles
Headaches are one of the most common pain conditions in the world. Up to 75% of adults have reported a headache in the past year. There are over 150 types of headaches caused by outside sources and existing health conditions and ailments.
Headaches are a common issue for adult humans. But do our dogs suffer from headaches too?
Do Dogs Get Headaches?
Yes! Just like us, dogs get headaches too. This is something that many veterinarians agree with despite very few studies into headaches in dogs.
Dogs have the same basic makeup as humans when it comes to nerves and blood vessels. Just like us, these nerves can swell or constrict. They can send signals just like ours. Because of this, dogs can experience headaches.
Some people even believe dogs get more painful headaches due to their stronger olfactory receptors, meaning irritating or strong scents may be the main cause of many canine headaches.
Not much is known about headaches in dogs because of how difficult it is to diagnose them in canines. Dogs don’t often express that they are in pain or uncomfortable. It’s in their nature to hide this from us. Because dogs like to hide their weaknesses, but most veterinarians agree that dogs experience headaches.
Are Headaches in Dogs Similar to Human Headaches?
While veterinarians believe there’s no reason dogs don’t also experience headaches, not much is known about headaches in dogs.
Dogs have a similar nerve and blood vessel makeup to us, and they act similarly. This means they can get triggered and send pain signals to the brain. For this reason, headaches in dogs are most likely quite similar to ours when it comes to how they feel and how long they last.
What Causes a Dog to Get Headaches?
Dogs get headaches for the same reasons we do. This includes:
- Allergic reactions
- Cold, flu, or sickness
- Excessive activity
- Too much head movement
- A strong smell
An underlying illness or condition can also cause headaches. If you feel that your dog is experiencing frequent or regularly occurring headaches, something serious may be going on with your pup. But how can you tell if your dog has just a headache?
Symptoms & Signs of a Dog Having a Headache
The reason headaches in dogs are so mysterious is because it’s hard to diagnose. Like we said earlier, dogs are good at hiding pain, and this includes headaches. But there are still some symptoms to look out for if you suspect that your dog is experiencing a headache.
- Doesn’t want to be touched on their head
- Frequent napping
- Hanging their head down
- Avoiding sunlight, squinting in the sun
- Disinterest in going outside
- Avoiding food
- Anxious behavior like pacing or licking
- Pawing at their head
- Repetitive blinking
If you bring your dog to the vet, the veterinarian will have additional symptoms they look for. This includes throbbing temples and dilated pupils.
How to Help Relieve a Dog’s Headache Naturally
If your dog seems uncomfortable due to a possible headache, there are luckily many natural solutions you can provide at home to alleviate their symptoms. Here are some things to do to improve your dog’s headache.
Give Them a Good Resting Area
If your dog is squinting in the light and sensitive to noise and touch, provide them with a very calm environment that’s dark, cool, and quiet. The lack of bright lights and noise at the dog park will help your dog relax and possibly remove the source of their headache. Dogs are especially sensitive to smell, so make sure there’s no smoke, perfume, or other strong smells in your home.
Help Them Get Comfortable
Make sure the space you are leaving your dog in has a comfortable resting spot. Provide your pup with a pet bed, blankets, and other cozy things they can rest their head-on. This will help alleviate stress and let them get some rest. Just make sure the blankets and pillows don’t have any strong scents on them.
Give Them Some Alone Time
You may be tempted to comfort your dog by petting or cuddling them. But if your dog has a pounding headache, it may be overstimulating or even painful when you try to touch them. Allow your dog some time to relax alone without any contact, giving their headache time to subside. You should especially avoid touching their head during this time.
If you have other pets or family members (including children), make sure they give your dog some space as well. Put them in an area where other pets and young kids can’t bother them.
Provide Them With CBD
If you expect that your dog has a headache, provide them with CBD. This is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid found in the hemp plant that can provide natural relief when your dog is experiencing physical discomfort.
CBD interacts with your dog’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which includes all the major systems like the digestive, immune, and nervous systems. When CBD interacts with the receptors throughout the ECS, it reduces physical discomfort like swelling. This will help your dog feel comforted and calm when a headache comes on.
Healthy Petables has CBD oil you can mix into your dog’s meal each morning and night, or CBD treats you can give your dog between meals. All of our products are completely natural and organic, containing only pet-safe, vegan-friendly ingredients. We also provide a certificate of analysis with each product, so you know that the CBD is effective, thanks to third-party testing.
Give your dog CBD every eight hours or twice a day, keeping a regular schedule. Consistent CBD dosing will improve the potency of the CBD, ensuring that your dog is free of headache symptoms and other physical discomforts.
Apply Hot or Cold Compresses
If your dog doesn’t seem anxious when you touch their head or neck, try using a hot or cold compress to alleviate the headache symptoms. Apply them to your dog’s neck or back and monitor their reaction, movement, and behavior. This can help reduce the discomfort associated with their headache, allowing for a faster recovery.
If possible, you may want to hold off on breakfast or dinner if your dog is experiencing a headache. Chewing can often make headaches worse due to the tension and movement involved with this action. Instead, provide your dog with plenty of water so they can stay hydrated. Water can help reduce a headache very quickly in some cases.
When to Go to the Vet
While headaches often go away within 30 minutes, you should call a vet if your dog seems to experience headaches very often or for long periods. If your dog seems uncomfortable or even in pain throughout the day, common sense says to make an appointment. A headache can sometimes be the side effect of a more serious health condition, including injuries or disease.
A veterinarian will be able to do some tests on your pup, including MRIs and other scans. This will give them a better idea of what’s going on inside your dog’s body and identify the source of the headache or general pain.
From there, a vet can provide a plan of action, whether it’s medication or a treatment plan that helps reduce the headache symptoms or head trauma your dog is experiencing.
Final Thoughts – Do Dogs Get Headaches?
Dogs are just like us. They experience similar emotions and like a lot of the same activities, whether it’s lounging in the bed and watching a movie or going on a nature hike. But this, unfortunately, means dogs share a lot of the same ailments as us, including headaches.
Most dog headaches can be hard to diagnose because dogs can’t tell us their head hurts or headache-like symptoms. But there are luckily ways to tell if our dogs are facing this kind of discomfort. They may not want their head touched or seem more sensitive to light. If you suspect that your dog has a headache or develops headaches, provide them with a comfortable, quiet spot away from noise and smells. Give them CBD treats. And apply a hot or cold compress. If your dog seems to be experiencing a headache for a prolonged amount of time, contact your veterinarian to set up an appointment.