Authored by: Dr. Lindsey, DVM
Anyone who suffers from headaches from time to time may have wondered if their pet can get headaches too. The short answer is possibly. There are few studies done to confirm that dogs can get headaches, but many veterinarians believe it seems possible. There is no reason to assume that dogs don’t occasionally suffer from headaches or head pain just like humans do. We humans can tell a doctor if we have a headache, a toddler would be able to point to where it hurts, but with our pets it can be very difficult to tell if they are in pain which is why the question is disputable in the veterinary community. There was a journal article awhile back in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine about a dog with migraine-like pain behavior. I will link the article below.
Sometimes our pets may give us clues that something isn’t feeling right. Some possible symptoms of head pain in dogs could be lethargy, not wanting to eat, not wanting their head touched, they may be sensitive to light, or they may want to rest in a cool, dark space. If you think your dog does have ongoing head pain or some neurological condition, take them to your veterinarian right away. Veterinarians can do a neurological exam along with their physical exam to possibly identify a problem. If the veterinarian suspects or diagnoses a problem during the exam, more testing may be necessary such as a CT or MRI. Treatment would be dependent on what the veterinarian finds as a cause of the head pain.
Dr. Lindsey graduated from Colorado State University in 2009 and works in general practice, shelter medicine, and more recently as a civilian contractor veterinarian for the Army. She is also certified in acupuncture and resides in Palm Springs, CA.