Just Like Us, Dogs Can Get Headaches — Here's What to Do

Kori Williams - Author

Jan. 15 2024, Published 11:33 a.m. ET

A dog cuddled in a dog bed with a dog plushie.
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If you have dogs at home, you know just how much they rely on you for everything. So you always have to make sure they are seen by a vet regularly and that they get professional help for any medical issue that arises. And when it comes to headaches, we have more in common with dogs than you might think.

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Can pups really have the same headache experience as us humans? Can dogs even get headaches? And if so, what do they mean? Keep reading for what experts have said about dog headaches.

A brown dog with a red ice bag on their head laying in bed.
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Do dogs get headaches?

Yes, dogs can and do get headaches. And the worst part is that they can't tell us what's wrong. Therefore, it's up to us to make sure we're paying attention to our dogs' needs and signs that something is going on. Veterinarian Dr. Michelle Burch told The Dodo that changes in behavior can be one indication that a dog is experiencing head pains.

For one, some dogs don't want to be touched when they are in this kind of pain.

"Dogs can also become difficult to place a collar or a harness on because of the pain and inflammation," said Dr. Burch. Other signs include:

  • Pressing their heads against something
  • Starring into space
  • Shaking their heads
  • Being clumsy.
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A brown dog with a blue ice bag on their head laying on floor with a blue blanket
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What could cause a headache in dogs?

According to The Dodo, dogs can get headaches for a few different reasons. Things like stress, kennel cough, allergies, head injuries, and sinus infections are all common ones; but just like with humans, headaches could also be a sign of another health concern. Dr. Burch said pups can sometimes get headaches from "inflammation of the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles over the skull and neck."

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Additionally, A-Z Animals also mentions that overheating, exhaustion, and getting colds can also give dogs headaches.

Unfortunately, the American Kennel Club states that there isn't much research into what causes a dog to have headaches. And much of what we do know is based on what gives people headaches.

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What can I do to help if my dog has a headache?

If your dog has a headache or any other health issue, it's always important to seek medical attention. Your vet can help you understand what is going on and together, you can develop a plan to make sure your dog feels better sooner.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help relieve your dog's pain. Ice packs and water are key here, according to A-Z Animals. Some dogs will want their own space, while others may want to cuddle up with you.

To help prevent headaches, the American Kennel Club states that you should take your dog for checkups regularly. That way, any health concerns can be dealt with sooner rather than later. Additionally, keeping them at a healthy weight, and making sure they are never too warm or too cold will help.

Also, make sure their collar and harness fits properly. Putting too much pressure on their necks or spine can cause pain and other health issues. This is especially true if the dog is still growing, is older, or is overweight.

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