Do Dogs Get Headaches

Dog Health Recent March 11, 2022
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Do Dogs Get Headaches

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The general consensus is yes, dogs can get headaches but are not as easy to diagnose. Animal specialists believe that dogs do get headaches, because their biological make-up is very close to that of humans. As humans we can tell someone or see a doctor to help cure our headache. However, this is not the case with our pups since they cannot just tell their owners when they are in pain. Often, they do not show signs of pain until it becomes severe and highly noticeable.

Dogs experience pain the same way we do, and they are susceptible to many of the same medical conditions. So, it is not unlikely that they can suffer from some kind of head pain.

Why Do Dogs Get Headaches?

Dogs can get headaches for a variety of different reasons just like humans and some have a tendency to experience headaches more often than others. Headaches in dogs are assumed to originate from causes similar to those known in human headaches. Since our pups can’t tell us what may have played a role in their head pain, being aware of the range of possibilities may help owners in recognizing and treating it.

Dogs have very sensitive noses, and pet specialists believe the main reason dogs get headaches is due to strong scents. Because dogs have incredibly powerful olfactory receptors, it takes a lot less to upset their brains than humans. Powerful, and irritating smells like perfumes or cleaning products can cause your dog to get a headache.

As in humans, a dog experiencing an allergic reaction will go through an irritating bout of runny nose and eyes, uncomfortable itching, sneezing, and occasional headache. Based on research, allergies are the most common cause of headaches in dogs.

The most common cause of dog headaches involves physical trauma to the head or neck. This can transpire as the result of someone striking the dog, a fall, a fight with another dog, or even being hit by a car.

In addition to physical trauma, headaches may also be caused by illness and unfortunately, it is possible for dogs to get headaches due to tumors. The tumor may or may not be cancerous but they can cause severe pain if they are pressing on the nerves or blood vessels in the brain. Headaches can also arise from pressure on the brain itself.

Also, a headache may occur as a result of some type of neurological problem that your dog is experiencing. A headache is just one symptom related to this type of issue. However, other symptoms can include your dog walking in circles, pressing their head against a hard object, or lashing out abnormally.

How Do You Know if Your Dog has a Headache?

As humans we may complain or treat our headaches with pain killers but our pups are unable to do the same. There are things to look for if you are worried that your dog maybe suffering from headaches.

Symptoms to observe:

  • Hyper reactive to or averse to touch
  • Clumsy
  • Self-protective behavior upon approach
  • Pacing in room, house or yard
  • Vertebral misalignment of mainly scull
  • Difficult leash or put on collar
  • Hard to groom
  • Skittish, irritable, aggressive, frightened
  • Head shaking, head pressing on objects, or staring
  • Furrowed brows, squinty eyes
  • Frequent blinking, distressed or dull expression
  • Tight jaw and or mouth
  • Partial or full body shakes
  • Light sensitivity
  • More frequent resting and napping
  • Keeping their head close to the ground
  • Constantly licking and other anxious activity

How to Treat Your Dog’s Headache

If you suspect your dog has a headache the best way you deal with it depends on how intense their pain seems. Some mild headaches will go away on their own.

If your dog’s headache seems to be mild, it could pass in an hour or so. While your pup recovers, it is best to make their environment more comfortable and remove anything that might trigger or increase the headache.

We discussed why dogs get headache and resolving them will depend on the cause in your dog. To treat your dog, find an area for them that’s cool, dark, and free from disturbances. Then try the following:

  • Place a hot or cold compress on their neck or back
  • Avoid touching their head
  • Make sure family members don’t disturb your dog
  • Let them rest
  • Be sure they have access to fresh water
  • Do not administer pain relief medication, unless your vet recommends it

If your dog appears to be in serious pain or the headache is not subsiding, it is best to take them to the vet for an evaluation.

Your veterinarian should complete a full examination of your dog to determine if there are any underlying causes for headaches. They might do an allergy test to determine if your dog’s headache is the result of a reaction. However, if the headache seems more serious, your vet may also request that your dog undergo an MRI to rule out any more serious health conditions.

If your dog allows you to touch you can try these anterior methods to treat a headache.


Just like in humans there are few acupuncture points to help treat headaches in dogs.


These kinds medications can be mixed up with water or food and given to your pet.


You can help your dog recover by either by applying a wet cloth or by giving a gentle massage if your dog is not displaying aggressive behavior.

Recovery process

Normally, a headache in a dog will go away by itself in a half hour, but they can last longer, especially if they are brought on by trauma or scents.

Your dog will let you know if he wants to be left alone or wants you close by. Let him dictate what he needs at this time.

If you notice that your dog gets more headaches than usual, or that they are taking longer to go away, or are leaving him in pain longer than about half an hour, you should have him checked out by your vet to rule out health problems.

Final Thoughts

Just like in humans, headaches are uncomfortable for dogs. Keep an eye on your pup and be sure they are not exhibiting signs of pain and discomfort. If you suspect your dog has an ongoing headache, and does not show improvement in next few hours, it is best to check with your veterinarian.

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Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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