Pet owners wonder, “Do dogs get headaches?” when they appear unwell. Dogs experience headaches the same as people do. Exact scientific proof of dog headaches is scarce, but most veterinarians and anecdotal reports agree. 

Headaches in dogs are caused by head injuries or lesions and medical conditions such as ear or tooth infections. Dogs get headaches because of stress, allergies, and environmental triggers such as bad weather or intense noises, lights, and scents. 

The common symptoms of dog headache include touch sensitivity, photophobia, phonophobia, loss of appetite, increased vocalization, dilated pupils, lethargy, restlessness, behavior changes, and pawing at the head.  

The signs your dog has a headache are not exclusive to the condition and warrant prompt veterinary attention. Treating headaches is challenging, and the treatment type depends on the underlying cause. 

A healthy lifestyle combined with natural supplements like pet CBD oil is excellent for treating and preventing headaches in dogs. CBD is safe to use daily in conjunction with mainstream headache treatments and pain medications. 

Why Dogs Get Headaches?

Dogs get headaches because of head injuries, brain lesions, painful conditions in the head area, or exposure to triggers such as lights, noises, scents, allergens, or stressors. They experience headaches when they are dehydrated, the same way humans do. Commercial, heavily processed dog food is a potential trigger for headaches. 

Headaches in human medicine are classified into two main categories: primary and secondary. Primary headaches refer to conditions defined by the headache, such as migraines. Secondary headaches are triggered by another condition or underlying problem. 

Migraines are challenging to determine in dogs, but secondary headaches are believed to be similar between dogs and humans. 

Dr. Burch told The Dodo site, “Dogs have consistent anatomy and physiology compared to humans, which suggests they can develop headaches.”

Can Dogs Experience Headaches Like Humans Do?

Yes, dogs can experience headaches like humans do. Few studies confirm dog headaches, but most veterinarians agree that headaches in dogs are possible. 

The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine published a case report, “Migraine-like episodic pain behavior in a dog: can dogs suffer from migraines?” in 2013, suggesting the presence of migraine-like attacks in canines.  

The report was focused on a 5-year-old female Cocker Spaniel with unexplained vocalization and fear episodes accompanied by nausea-like symptoms (drooling, frequent swallowing, and lip-smacking), vomiting, photophobia (light sensitivity), and phonophobia (sound sensitivity).  The episodes occurred once or twice per month and lasted up to 72 hours. The dog remained quiet for a day or two after each episode before returning to normal. 

The study supports the opinion of vets that dogs experience headaches and answers the question, “Do dogs get headaches?” 

“Common sense suggests that any creature with a head and pain perception has the basic capacity to suffer from headaches,” affirmed by Dr. Bittel, in an IVC Journal article. 

What are the Common Signs of Headaches in Dogs?

The common signs of headaches in dogs are listed below. 

  • Increased Sensitivity: Heightened sensitivity to touch, especially in the head and neck areas, is typical for dogs with headaches. Temporary noise sensitivity (phonophobia) and light sensitivity (photophobia) are common, too. 
  • Excess Vocalization: Dogs communicate they are in pain or distress by crying or other vocal cues such as whining, yelping, and whimpering. 
  • Appetite Loss: Appetite loss is among the most common and noticeable signs your dog has a headache. Dogs eating wet food retain some appetite, but dogs given kibble refuse to eat entirely because chewing is painful. 
  • Lethargy: Dogs with headaches are disinterested in everyday activities and lack usual energy. Increased sleeping is a sign of lethargy. 
  • Restlessness: Dogs in pain get restless and pace around because they are distressed and unable to settle. 
  • Dilated Pupils: Increased or dilated pupils (medically termed mydriasis) are a common sign of dog headache, especially if present in well-lit conditions.  
  • Head Pawing: Dogs tend to paw at the pain source, and pawing at the head indicates a headache. Rubbing the head against the floor or furniture or pressing the head against the wall is a sign of headache in dogs. 
  • Behavioral Changes: Pet owners wondering, “Do dogs get headaches?” must know the answer is yes and consider headaches the reason for behavioral changes, such as reduced playfulness, increased irritability, and preferring to spend time alone. 

Are there Specific Triggers that can Cause Headaches in Dogs?

Yes, there are specific triggers that can cause headaches in dogs. Common dog headache triggers include loud noises, strong odors, bright lights, bad weather, and constant stress. 

Every dog is different, and the headache triggers vary greatly among dogs. For example, the same strong odor that causes a headache in one dog does not affect another. A loud noise, like thunder, triggers headaches in dogs with noise phobias but does not cause issues in dogs suffering from separation anxiety. 

How To Tell if Your Dog Has a Headache?

You can tell your dog has a headache if it frequently loses its appetite. Dogs eating kibble or crunchy food stop eating because the pain is unbearable. The loss of appetite is worse if a nearby infection, such as an ear or tooth infection, triggers the headache. 

The answer is yes to “Do dogs get headaches?” Appetite loss or anorexia is not specific to headaches and is not the only symptom of headaches in dogs, but it is the simplest to notice.

Touch sensitivity, unusual vocalizations, dilated pupils, pawing at the head, disinterest in daily activities, restlessness, and changes in general behavior are other signs a dog has a headache. 

What are the Potential Causes of Headaches in Dogs?

The potential causes of headaches in dogs are listed below. 

  • Head and Neck Injuries: Physical traumas and injuries to the dog’s head or neck are common causes of headaches. Traumatic head or neck injuries are potentially fatal in some cases and require emergency veterinary attention. 
  • Brain Tumors: Tumors of the brain trigger headaches in dogs. The two common brain tumors in dogs are meningioma, which affects the meninges and is usually benign, and glioma, which affects the deeper brain tissues and is malignant. 
  • Sinus Problems: Sinusitis or sinus infection in dogs is caused by allergies or bacteria and often manifests with a headache. The pain is the result of nasal congestion, which puts pressure on the sinuses and triggers swelling and inflammation. 
  • Dental Issues: Tooth infections, tooth decay, and advanced periodontal disease cause headaches in dogs. Dental issues are widespread, especially among small-breed dogs. 
  • Ear Infections: Infections of the outer ear (otitis externa), middle ear (otitis media), and inner ear (otitis interna) are excruciating, and the ear pain radiates and causes a headache in dogs. 
  • Eye Conditions: Painful eye conditions like glaucoma trigger dog headaches varying from mild to severe. Glaucoma is often mistaken for migraines in people. 
  • Allergies: Dogs with environmental allergies are at high risk of experiencing headaches. The main reason is irritation inside and around the nose and nasal passages. 
  • Canine Anxiety: Anxiety causes tension headaches in dogs, the same as in humans. Alone time, loud noises, car rides, and vet visits are among the most common triggers of anxiety in dogs. 
  • Dehydration: Dogs get headaches when they are dehydrated. Dehydration in dogs develops as a result of insufficient water intake or excess water loss through vomiting and diarrhea. 
  • Overheating: Pet owners often ask, “Do dogs get headaches?” due to overheating, and the answer is yes. High temperatures paired with dehydration result in heat stroke, which is life-threatening and requires immediate vet care.  
  • Environmental Factors: Dog headaches are sometimes caused by environmental factors such as loud noises, bright lights, extreme weather changes, and strong odors. 
  • Owner Mirroring: A 2013 paper, “Survey of Migraine Sufferers with Dogs to Evaluate for Canine Migraine-Alerting Behaviors,” found that dogs sense headaches in their owners. Dogs mirror their owner’s feelings, and getting headaches when owners experience migraines is possible. 

Do Certain Breeds of Dogs Have a Higher Susceptibility to Headaches?

Yes, certain breeds of dogs have a higher susceptibility to headaches. Certain dog breeds are predisposed to conditions that increase the risk of headaches, such as ear infections, allergies, and anxiety, are breed-reales and cause headaches. 

Ear infections are common in long-eared breeds like Weimaraners and Bloodhounds, allergies are widespread among Boxers and Labrador Retrievers, and Wheaten Terriers and Lagotto Romagnolos are particularly stress sensitive. 

A hereditary component of headaches is not determined in dogs (unlike in some people who are known to carry genes that make them prone to headaches). 

Can Environmental Factors, such as Weather Changes, Affect a Dog’s Likelihood of Getting a Headache?

Yes, environmental factors, such as weather changes, can affect a dog’s likelihood of getting a headache. 

Weather changes alter the atmospheric pressure, triggering chemical and electrical brain alternations in dogs. The alternations irritate the nerves, resulting in dog headaches. 

High temperatures increase the risk of overheating in dogs, an established headache trigger. Thunderstorms cause headaches in dogs with noise phobias, and general changes in humidity and wind affect the level of allergens in the air, triggering allergy-associated headaches in sensitive dogs. 

What Role Does a Dog’s Diet Play in the Development of Headaches?

The dog’s diet plays an essential role in the development of headaches. The exact extent of the dietary effect on headaches is not well-studied in dogs, but it is in humans. 

Humans and dogs share similar anatomy of the nervous system and headache mechanisms, so it is safe to conclude that diet is a factor in dog headaches. 

The American Migraine Foundation explains that skipping meals triggers headaches, and long periods between meals worsen headaches. Nitrite-based preservatives and monosodium glutamate (MSG) are reported to trigger migraines in humans and are frequently found in dog food. 

Nitrites are highly concentrated in wet food, while MSG is used in wet formulas and kibble. Reading the ingredient list helps avoid nitrites, but MSG is particularly troublesome because it is not always labeled clearly. 

Are there any Natural Remedies or Treatments for Dog Headaches?

Yes, there are natural remedies or treatments for dog headaches. Natural pain relief remedies include certain plants, dog supplements, and lifestyle changes. 

Popular plants and supplements for relieving dog headaches include ginger, turmeric, Boswellia, CBD oil, fish oil, and devil’s claw. Helpful lifestyle changes include a healthy diet, a daily exercise regimen, and a stress-free environment. 

Can CBD Oil be Used to Treat Dog Headaches?

Yes, CBD oil can be used to treat dog headaches. CBD oil  relieves headache symptoms and manages specific headache causes.  

CBD is an “effective therapeutic alternative in the multimodal management of pain in dogs and cats,”  as found in a study by Frontiers in Veterinary Science titled “The Role of Cannabinoids in Pain Modulation in Companion Animals,” 2022. CBD oil for dog headaches helps relieve the pain.

CBD reduces inflammation, and neuroinflammation (inflammation of the nervous tissues) plays a pivotal role in developing certain headaches, such as migraines. The authors of the human study “Cannabidiol for Neurodegenerative Disorders: A Comprehensive Review,” published in 2022 in Frontiers of Pharmacology, say that CBD prevents “neuroinflammation by acting on multiple molecular targets.”

CBD oil affects specific headache causes, too. Pet owners are concerned “Do dogs get headaches?” must be aware that the answer is yes, but cannabinoids help with some headache-triggering factors, such as canine anxiety and allergies. 

CBD promotes natural calmness and relaxation through its potent anxiolytic effects. Hunt A.B.G. and associates, in the 2023 paper “A Single Dose of Cannabidiol (CBD) Positively Influences Measures of Stress in Dogs during Separation and Car Travel,” showed that CBD helps reduce stress. 

CBD controls allergies by modifying the immune system (the main culprit for allergic reactions) and reducing inflammation (the body’s response to the allergen). Veterinary Sciences published a study titled “Effect of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Canine Inflammatory Response: An Ex Vivo Study on LPS Stimulated Whole Blood” in 2021, demonstrating CBD’s ability to modulate the immune system. 

How much CBD Oil can I Give for my Dog with Headache?

You can give your dog with a headache between 1 and 5 mg of CBD oil per 10 pounds of body weight. The exact dose depends on the severity of the headache symptoms and the underlying issue causing the head pain. 

Start with a low CBD dosage of around 2 mg per 10 pounds, or 0.2 mg per pound, and gradually increase the amount. Slow CBD introduction reduces the risk of side effects, allowing the dog’s body to get used to the product. 

The answer is yes to people asking, “Do dogs get headaches”? CBD helps manage the symptoms. Dogs respond differently to CBD, and dosing is not an exact science, meaning it takes trial and error to find the CBD amount that works best for relieving the dog’s headaches. 

Use a CBD dosage calculator or consult a veterinarian to determine how much CBD to give a dog with a headache. 

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

Yes, CBD is safe for dogs. CBD products for pets are extracted from the hemp version of the cannabis plant and are THC-free and perfectly safe. Human CBD is sourced from marijuana, contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and is toxic for dogs and other pets. 

Pet CBD is always made from hemp and contains a safe amount of less than 0.3% THC, which qualifies as THC-free. 

A 2023 study, “Scientific Validation of Cannabidiol for Management of Dog and Cat Diseases,” found that “CBD appears to have good bioavailability and safety profile with few side effects.”

The answer is yes for pet owners asking, “Is CBD safe for animals?” Hemp-sourced CBD is safe and beneficial for dogs with headaches when used with the vet’s approval and following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Owners asking, “Do dogs get headaches?” must know the answer is yes, and CBD is a treatment option for managing headache pain. 

When Should You Seek Veterinary Care for a Dog with Suspected Headaches?

You should seek immediate veterinary care for a dog with suspected headaches. Pet owners asking, “Do dogs get headaches?” know the answer is yes. 

Headaches are not directly life-threatening but are painful and sometimes indicative of an underlying disease. Prompt vet care is vital to relieve the pain and address the cause. 

The veterinarian examines the dog and performs diagnostic tests and procedures to determine the cause of the problem. The vet prescribes pain medications based on the findings to manage the headaches and recommends a strategy for treating the underlying condition. 

How Long do Headaches Last for Dogs?

Headaches in dogs last between 30 and 60 minutes. Underlying diseases, age, stress, and exposure to bright light and loud noises prolong headache episodes and worsen the symptoms. 

The answer to the question “Do dogs get headaches?” is yes, but the answer to the question “Are headache episodes in dogs long?” varies based on the circumstances. Headaches, even when short, are highly uncomfortable and affect the dog’s quality of life. 

Do Headaches in Dogs Are Signs of Underlying Disease?

Yes, headaches in dogs are signs of an underlying disease in some situations. For example, headaches occur in dogs with meningitis. Meningitis is a condition in which the brain layers called meninges are inflamed. 

Brain tumors are another disease clinically manifesting with headaches. Other examples where headaches are signs of disease include anxiety, allergies, and infections of the ears or teeth. 

Pet owners asking, “Do dogs get headaches?” rest assured that headaches are not always related to underlying conditions. Temporary environmental factors sometimes trigger dog headaches.