The brain is the epicenter of the body. It’s the command center, the place where instructions are sent, messages are received and acted upon. The dog brain works the same as the human brain does and since a headache is a type of pain that the brain can act upon, yes, dogs do indeed get headaches from time to time and there have been some scientific researches dedicated to this very question.
It’s assumed that most headaches for dogs are caused by allergies!
Dogs can have seasonal allergies and they respond to stimulants in their environment in much the say way that a human with allergies might. A headache, stuffy nose, itchy and watery eyes are all symptoms that your dog is also susceptible to if they have allergies. Some dogs will also get ear infections in conjunction with their allergies.
A dog with chronic ear infections can be due to food allergies and you should pay close attention to their diet. Utilize a process of elimination to try to determine the cause of the allergy. It is normally the meat or wheat or corn gluten.
Dogs will also get that squinty look in their eyes and act as if bright lights are bothering them when they have a headache. Get to know your dog well and you’ll begin to notice the signs. They also have days that they just won’t feel great. You may notice more of these days as they age but not necessarily. Just like people, all dogs are a bit different in how they react to their environment and how they age.
Can You Give a Dog Something for Their Headache?
Under no circumstances should you try to give a dog Tylenol, aspirin, or Ibuprofen. This isn’t safe for their stomachs and could cause internal bleeding for them. Dogs, as mentioned before, likely would have a headache due to allergies. You can give them an allergy tablet that is safe for them. Claritin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl are commonly given to dogs without side-effects. Claritin doesn’t have the drowsy effect that Benadryl will.
Dimming the lights will give your dog some relief and many dogs enjoy burrowing under the cover when their eyes are bothering them. If you notice tears and running eyes, offer them a blanket to cuddle under, turn the overhead light off for them and respect their need for a dark, quiet place. When they seek solitude, it may be that their head hurts and they just don’t feel good.
Some dogs enjoy a bath and will appreciate a warm bath to help wash allergens away and others hate bathtime. This is another case of needing to know your own dog. A nice rub and relaxing snooze in your lap may be just what they need?
Apoquel is an allergy prescription made just for dogs. You can discuss this with your veterinarian to see if he or she feels it will give your dog better results than over-the-counter medicines for allergies.
Some dogs will have extremely itchy skin during allergy flares and then the watery eyes will start to show. There’s a good chance that they have a headache at this point in time. In addition to avoiding light, your dog may carry his head lower than normal, seem lethargic, not want to eat, Avoid being touched on the head, seem anxious, or appear abnormally grumpy or nervous.
Making Your Dog Feel Better
Aside from offering proper medication, also make sure that your dog has plenty of cool water to drink, a cool place to lay down and offer them a heating pack such as the microwavable hot packs that you can let them snuggle with, sans cords.
Allow them to be left alone and respect their need to not be touched or to not have their head patted. Don’t allow children to bother them. Let them sleep longer. Their headache will most likely subside within the hour if you give them an allergy tablet. The best thing that you can do for them is to respect their space and ensure that your children do the same.
Remember that your dog may get overly grumpy with kids when they don’t feel good and the vast majority of dog bites to kids are when children do not respect the dog’s need for space. Teach this and enforce it. Even letting your dog be in a kennel for an hour alone is better than to allow children to be pests and risk a snappy dog. The majority of dog bites are blamed on the dog when they’ve done everything in their power to beg for space and respect.
Even The Best Dog
Can have a bad day and not feel like playing. Even the best dog can finally be so sick that they snap at your hand or a poking child. Even the best dog is entitled to their space and some respect when they do not feel good. It’s essential that you see the signs and give them space when they ask for it.
A growl from a dog should never be punished. This is the only means they have to communicate to you that they are at the last clinging strand of patience before they snap. A growl is a warning and an ask for space. “Please, don’t push me!” Respec them. Understand that they’ve given a warning from the goodness of their heart. They are beseeching you to not hurt them or aggravate them further. Listen.
Dogs that bit almost always give several warnings that are ignored. They feel pain just like we do and they have sickness sometimes that can make them not feel up to their normal interactions. Keep an eye on them. If it continues more than 48 hours, it may be time to be checked by a veterinarian.
If, at any time, your dog stops drinking water you should get them to the doctor immediately. Dehydration kills and is the thing that typically is the final blow to them in a time of sickness. Do not allow this to happen. Monitor water intake and when the bowl is untouched, their skin feels less elastic than normal, get them to the veterinarian immediately.
Going off of food is normal and can last as long as three or four days without need for concern as long as they are still drinking water. There are times when we are ill that the body should spend precious energy on healing, not on metabolizing food. Dogs instinctively seem to know when this is necessary. Don’t let them go past three days without seeing a veterinarian, however; they can lose weight very quickly beyond this point which won’t be good for them.
When it is Allergies
Dogs that have allergies are often allergic to specific things. Your vet can do allergy specific testing. If you don’t want to spend that sort of money, as those tests are costly, you can begin figuring it out on your own by eliminating certain foods. Start with eliminating certain meat products, gradually add back and watch for changes in symptoms. Do the same with things like wheat, corn, and soy.
Dogs can have allergies to grass, of all things. If they lick and chew on their feet then they are likely allergic to the grass, a pesticide or herbicide on the lawn, or they’ve gotten into something in their environment. Check their feet to make sure there is no irritant stuck, like a splinter or sand spur.
You should check their paws regularly anyway but look for irritants when they are chewing on feet. If an allergy tablet alleviates the chewing, then it is highly likely that they are allergic to something in the environment, like grass. This is more common than you may realize.
There are many commercial foods on the market that are for dogs with food allergies. One of the best of these is Avoderm. It’s made for dogs with skin itching from food allergens. Many pet owners love this food and claim it has given their dog much relief. You may decide to make your dog’s own food. It’s entirely up to you and dependent upon the amount of work that you’d like to put into feeding your dog.
The testing done by the vet will include shaving a spot on the dog and laying out a grid of pin pricks which introduce environmental allergens that are known to be issues for some dogs and then reading the reactions to each prick in the skin. This will clearly show which things your dog reacts to. For some pet owners, this is the faster, easier way but not everyone has access to the financial obligation for such testing.
Once you determine what the causes of the headaches for your dog are, it will be much easier to prevent them from happening in the future. You’ll be far more in control over the ways to handle your dog’s health and manage their allergy issues going forward as well.
Dawn Greer is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.