The short answer to this question is yes. Just like people and many other animals, our canine friends can suffer from the occasional headache, and it can be very frustrating for them.
While headaches might be more challenging to diagnose, especially since animals don’t have the ability to tell vets what’s wrong with them or the exact body area where they feel pain, they can still occur.
In this post, we’re going to look at how you can tell that your dog has a headache, the common causes of headaches in dogs, and if there are any things you can do about this problem.
Causes of headaches in dogs
If your canine friend doesn’t suffer from any chronic condition or the vet hasn’t diagnosed him or her with anything in the past several weeks, a headache could be caused by the following factors:
- Blood pressure variations
- Chemicals (including the ones that you might be using for cleaning your home)
- Strong smells
- Dental health issues
- Respiratory infections (that affect the sinuses, too)
- Playing too much (strong or excessive movements of the head and neck)
How can you tell if your dog has a headache?
There are a number of symptoms that could indicate that your dog is suffering from a headache. Here are just a few:
- Your pooch might cringe as you try to approach him/her
- Looking for places where the dog can be alone
- Avoiding rooms where there’s too much light
- Some dogs can be anxious and can show excessive drooling
- Some dogs can nap for hours on end in an attempt to ease the pain
- Lack of interest in food and sometimes, water
- The dog might keep his/her head lower than usual
Some dogs can be aggressive or easily irritable while others might get scared upon trying to be touched on their neck or head area. Depending on the severity of the pain experienced, the animal might also look distressed or worried.
A variety of clinical signs that show up in people can also show up in our canine companions.
For example, a dog experiencing a strong headache might vomit or might show nasal discharge on the side of the head where the pain is located. Other dogs can be extremely sensitive to sounds and will try to look for the quietest spot in the house. There is also the possibility of the dog tearing or showing eye redness, too.
What to do if your dog has a headache
First of all, you shouldn’t try to give your canine buddy any medicine that’s made for human use, because it can be dangerous. Your veterinarian can instruct you with regard to the anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications that you can use in dogs and that are essentially human-grade.
If headaches are a common thing with your pooch and the vet doesn’t seem to know their exact cause, one of the simplest things you can try to do to alleviate the pain is to use cold compresses. Hold a cold compress on the base of your Fido’s neck, especially if it feels a little overheated.
Give your dog plenty of space, especially if you have noticed that he or she is searching for a quiet and dark place. There’s no use in you being a stressful factor besides the headache that your dog is experiencing.
If you see that your dog has recurring headaches for 2-3 days a week and each time, they seem to last for several hours, it’s definitely time to be a little worried. Take your canine friend in for a check-up and be prepared for the vet to recommend you several tests, from imaging diagnostic methods such as computer tomography or an X-ray to the standard blood tests that are almost always performed.
Some dogs can have headaches due to hormonal imbalances, and a good example of this would be female ones who are having their menstrual cycle or are under treatment with various hormones or Calcitonin.
Another more serious cause of headaches in dogs can be a tumor or an inflammatory process in the dog’s brain. Usually, these are accompanied by other clinical manifestations, not just symptoms of headaches, such as seizures, for example. In any case, only a visit to the vet clinic can reveal such pathologies.
As you might have noticed, the causes of headaches in dogs are so varied that we couldn’t possibly recommend one specific therapy for all. Depending on the diagnosis, your dog could be treated using one (or more) of the following therapies:
- Chiropractic methods (especially after the dog has undergone trauma)
- Homeopathy (arnica)
- Diagnosing and treating dental problems
- Correctly using the right training gear (avoiding to pull on the dog leash and collar too hard)
- Pain killers (prescribed by your vet)
Even though not all veterinary professionals agree that dogs can have headaches just like humans, especially every once in a while, many vets do think that our canine buddies can, in fact, have this problem.
If your dog has symptoms of a headache once every several months and they don’t seem to be severe at all, it’s probably nothing to worry about. This is even truer if it was just a one-time occurrence.
But if it tends to happen more often than not, it might be an indication of a chronic health problem, in which case you need to take Fido to the vet as soon as possible. The earlier the cause is discovered, the sooner you’ll be able to eliminate it or get the appropriate treatment for the health issue that your dog might be suffering from.