Do Dogs Get Headaches?


Do Dogs Get Headaches? is a common question with an answer that is both surprising and complex. Dogs do not get headaches in the same way that humans do, however, they are prone to various conditions that can cause headaches and other related signs and symptoms. Dogs may also experience discomfort that resembles a headache due to environmental factors. As such, it is important to be aware of how canine bodies respond to certain stimuli, and when appropriate, seek veterinary advice.

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Yes, dogs can experience headaches. They may have headaches due to an underlying condition, such as an infection, sinus congestion, ear infection, or trauma to the head. Dogs can also suffer from primary headaches, similar to what humans experience, caused by stress, tension, and dietary issues.

Causes of Headaches in Dogs

Headaches in dogs can be caused by a variety of conditions. Some of these causes can be life-threatening and require immediate veterinary attention.

  • Intracranial Hypertension: Intracranial hypertension is a condition in which the pressure inside the skull becomes elevated too high. This can be caused by a tumor, infection, fluid buildup, or bleeding. When this pressure increases, it can cause a headache in dogs.
  • Dog Ear Infection: Dog ear infections can cause not only pain in the outer or middle ear but headaches as well. A buildup of fluid or pus in the ear can cause pressure and pain in the head, resulting in a headache.
  • Dog Allergies: Allergies can make dogs highly sensitive to certain foods, environments, and other allergens. This can cause inflammation throughout the body and typically manifests as a headache.
  • Dog Stress and Anxiety: Dog stress and anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as trembling, panting, and sometimes even headaches.
  • Vaccination Side Effects: Some dogs may experience mild headaches as a side effect of vaccinations. While usually harmless, if the headache worsens then you should contact your veterinarian.
  • Dog Sinus Infection: A sinus infection in dogs is caused by the inflammation of the soft sinus tissues. This can cause pressure on the areas surrounding the sinuses, which can result in a headache.
  • Brain Tumors: Brain tumors in dogs can cause an increase in intracranial pressure, which can lead to headaches. Depending on the type of tumor, the speed of progression can vary from slow to rapid, so it is important to get it diagnosed and treated quickly if suspected.
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Symptoms of Dog Headache

Headache in dogs can be caused by a number of different things, and it is important to identify the cause of the headache in order to determine the best course of treatment for your pet. Some of the most common symptoms of dog headache include:

  • Unexplained ear pain or tenderness. Dogs can suffer from ear pain due to infections or inflammation and this is often accompanied by headaches.
  • Changes in behavior. A dog with a headache may appear unusually tired or sluggish. He may also appear to be constantly looking for attention or may avoid activities that he would normally enjoy such as going for walks or playing with toys.
  • Excessive scratching or licking. Your dog may demonstrate excessive scratching or licking at the areas around his ears, head, and neck.
  • Restlessness. A dog with a headache may seem very restless and uncomfortable. It may be difficult to keep him in a seated or lying down position.
  • Poor appetite. Headaches can cause dogs to lose their appetite which can be caused by the discomfort.
    It is important to take your dog to the vet if he appears to be experiencing any of the symptoms above.

What To Do When Your Dog Has a Headache

If your dog appears to have a headache, consult your veterinarian immediately for a diagnosis and treatment. Your veterinarian will likely need to collect a medical history about your pet, perform a physical exam, and suggest diagnostic testing such as radiographs (x-rays), an MRI, or a CT scan. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Possible treatments could include medications, dietary changes, acupuncture, massage, or physical therapy. Further, it is important to monitor your pet closely to observe for any changes in behavior or appetite.

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  1. Regular Check-Ups: The best way to treat a dog’s headache is to bring the dog to the veterinarian for regular check-ups to make sure there are no underlying medical conditions that could be causing the headache.
  2. Appropriate Medication: Once the underlying cause has been determined, the veterinarian may prescribe medication for the migraine or headache. Examples include anti-inflammatory medications such as Rimvet, Adequan, and Metacam. The dosages must be discussed with the vet, as the correct dosage will depend on the severity of the headache.
  3. Relaxation Techniques: In some cases, relaxation techniques such as gentle massage and calm, soothing music can help to reduce or even eliminate the headache.
  4. Diet Customs: Modifying your dog’s diet can also help to reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches. Make sure there are plenty of healthy protein sources, such as lean meats, whole grains, and fresh vegetables.
  5. Supplements: Some vitamins, minerals, and herbs can help to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches in dogs. Consult a veterinarian about supplements that may work for your dog.
  6. Avoid Stress: Stress can exacerbate headaches in dogs, so reduce this as much as possible. Manage the environment to provide a calm and stress-free atmosphere, such as timed visits with family members or other family pets, plenty of outdoor activities, and a quiet environment indoors.
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Home Remedy for Dog Headache

  • Take your dog for a walk – Exercise can help reduce your dog’s headache symptoms, such as stress, pain, and muscle tension.
  • Apply a cold compress – Placing a cold compress on your dog’s head can help alleviate the pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Provide massage – A gentle massage can help relax your dog’s muscles, reduce tension, and relieve headache symptoms.
  • Eliminate stressors – Creating a calm environment for your dog may help reduce their stress and lower the risk of headaches. This can be accomplished with regular walks, calming treats, and a quiet space.

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  1. Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise: Dogs need a physical outlet to alleviate stress and excess energy and help reduce the chance of developing headaches. Providing plenty of opportunities for physical activity can help to prevent headaches.
  2. Monitor your dog’s diet and nutrition: A poor quality diet lacking in proper nutrition can lead to a vitamin deficiency, which can cause headaches. Make sure your dog is eating healthy, nutrient-rich foods to help prevent problems.
  3. Keep your dog away from loud noises: Hearing loss or loud noises can trigger headaches in dogs due to the increased stress it puts on the nervous system.
  4. Limit exposure to harsh chemicals: Dogs can develop headaches as a result of exposure to harsh chemicals, such as pesticides or herbicides. Keep your dog away from areas where these may be present to help prevent headache-triggering issues.
  5. Monitor your dog’s stress levels: Stress is one of the leading causes of headaches in dogs. Keeping an eye on your dog’s stress levels and addressing them early can help reduce the chances of developing a headache.
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How Are Headaches Similar in Dogs And Humans?

Headaches in both humans and dogs can have a variety of causes, such as stress, nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, and infectious diseases. Both can also suffer from headaches caused by physical trauma or intense physical exercise. Symptoms of headaches in both can involve pain or discomfort on one or both sides of the head, changes in sleep patterns, loss of appetite, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. Treatment of headaches in both humans and dogs may involve pain relief medication, physical therapy, massage, nutritional changes, or hydration therapy.

How Are Headaches Different in Dogs And Humans?

There are some key differences between headaches in humans and headaches in dogs. For example, a classic cause of headaches in humans is migraine, but this is not typically seen in dogs. Additionally, compared to humans, dogs have a much lower tolerance for pain, so even a small headache can be quite debilitating for them. Finally, since dogs cannot vocalize their pain, diagnosing the source of a headache can be more difficult for them than it is for humans.


Q. How do you tell if a dog has a headache?

A. A headache in a dog cannot be easily diagnosed, as dogs are unable to communicate their pain. To tell if a dog has a headache, look for common symptoms such as irritated and watery eyes, head shaking, abnormal vocalizations, difficulty sleeping, and an overall decrease in activity. 

Q. Can dogs have migraine headaches?

A. Yes, dogs can have migraine headaches.

Q. Do dogs get headaches like humans?

A. Yes, it is likely that dogs get headaches like humans.

Q. Do dogs get headaches from dehydration?

A. Yes, dogs do get headaches from dehydration, though dehydration can cause other health issues in dogs such as fatigue and more serious complications.

Q. Can Dogs Take Headache Medicine?

A. No, it is not recommended for dogs to take headache medication.


In conclusion, it appears that dogs do get headaches in the same way that humans do. Dogs may experience headaches due to underlying medical conditions, such as infections, tumors, or brain injuries, as well as various environmental factors. If your dog shows signs of headache-related pain, such as pawing at their head or avoiding light, it is best to take them to the vet for a full evaluation.


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