Headache in dogs


Did you know that not only you but also your dog can suffer from headaches?

Not only humans, but also animals - and therefore our dogs - can suffer from sporadic or chronic headaches.

Headaches are and always will be difficult to see/notice in your dog. Unfortunately, they are still not blessed with speech (oh, how I would love to have a chat with dogs!) and thus cannot tell us when and where they are in pain.

With most conditions that are present inside the body, after a while you see symptoms from which you can deduce that your dog is in pain somewhere or that something is wrong inside. With headaches, these symptoms often only appear when your dog is in chronic pain or when his head is really almost bursting with pain.

Headaches in dogs are still not known and I want to change this now!

Also, scientists and veterinarians have discovered that dogs can also have migraines just like humans!

What can cause headaches in my dog?

  • Crowds / often or a lot of noise
  • Stress (chronic or sudden)
  • Heat
  • Bright sun/ lights
  • Poor nutrition
  • Poor hydratation
  • Genetic determination
  • A tumor in the head/neck/back
  • A too small skull (pugs, chihuahuas, keeshondjes, French or English bulldogs,...
    > Basically all breeds whose skulls are bred too small, causing the eyes to bulge a bit, the skull to have an apple shape, the nose to be too short...). Because of this the brain presses against the skull and this causes tremendous headaches. This is often accompanied by epileptic seizures.
  • ... 

How do you recognize a headache in your dog?

As I wrote here before, it is and remains difficult to diagnose headaches in both humans and animals. Still, I have some symptoms that may suggest whether your dog has a headache :

  • Feel your dog's head (when he/she allows it). Does it feel warm to the touch? Warmer than normal? This may indicate a headache (or fever!).
  • Your dog does not find his/her "spot" when he/she wants to sleep or rest.
  • He/she always puts his/her head up (e.g. on a pillow)
  • He/she often hides his/her head under a sheet/cushion/....
  • He/she avoids interaction
  • Your dog isolates himself from everything
  • He/she does not want you to touch his/her head, this is namely very sensitive 
  • Panting can always be a form of pain expression
  • Your dog pushes his/her head against the wall or someting else

My dog has (multiple) symptoms, now what?

Make an appointment with your veterinarian asap. We don't like walking around with a headache either and always take a painkiller as soon as possible. Everyone has a headache, whether from a pint too many or not šŸ˜‰ , we all know how annoying and painful it is. So go to your vet as soon as possible and help your woofer get rid of it as soon as possible.

Disclaimer : Even veterinarians don't have miracle drugs to read a dog's mind (please scientists, invent such a thing!). Your vet will probably have to guess about it too. First and foremost, have your dog tested for infections, tumors, metabolism and immune problems so you can already give a definitive answer here.

Chances are good that you will be given painkillers* to start treatment.

*Cannabis oil would also work very well against these kinds of conditions.


In conjunction with Western medicine, Eastern medicine can also provide a complete, holistic fight to rid your dog of migraines or headaches :

Migraines or headaches often come from a "knot" or stagnation in the body that manifests itself in headaches (Warm Wind or Vapor in Chinese medicine terms) , both in dogs (animals in general) and also in us.

A Cranio Sacral treatment (from head to sacrum = hindquarters) does incredible good for your dog, helps remove the stagnation and relaxes the skull and back (yes, this exists for humans too!).

You can come to me for a Cranio Sacral treatment for your dog when your woofer is diagnosed with a headache. In my training in Shiatsu I was given the Cranio treatment and have seen several dogs blossom with it.

It is incredible what one's own body can do!

So : Keep a close eye on your dog, especially now that we are home more (this article was written during the corona lockdown). When you see behaviors like the ones described above in your dog, know that they are not normal. Any change or deviation in your dog's normal behavior may indicate an underlying problem.

Love & paws,

Bronnen :
Opleiding shiatsu voor honden
DA Hendrickx Wijnegem