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For Find Out Friday - Do Animals Get Migraines?


As a chronic migraine sufferer there is not a day that goes by where how my head feels does not cross my mind. How I feel dictates what I am able to do and if my scheduled plans have to change. It also controls what medications I am on and what I can have to eat and drink. It is like having an invisible side kick that has a stronger say in your life than you do. 

Living with an invisible illness that causes chronic pain and its side effects is very distressing. It has only been in the last couple of years that I have regained what it means to be me after having this illness about fifteen years. 

Migraines as well as other headache disorders can be hereditary. They typically run in families. I know my mother had them when she was younger as did a cousin of mine,  but neither woman had them to the degree I did. Naturally, I have to excel at everything I do. 

This week I am attempting to wean off one of the preventative medications I take daily. Thus my head is on my mind more than usual, pun intended. 

It made me think about the animal kingdom. I know dogs get cancer and cats can get diabetes, but can animals also get headaches? If so, can they also get migraines?

Lets first start with the rest of the human population. I know for a fact due to all of the research I have done connected to migraines that children as well as infants can suffer from this debilitating disease. 

Like adults, children suffer from severe sensitivity to light and noise. They can experience auras which affect their vision. They can be nauseous, vomit, or have diarrhea. With children usually the pain and its symptoms only last a few hours, but like with adults, if it lasts longer than that the patient needs to be taken to an emergency room. 

In the case of an infant, parents need to be extra observant for signs and diligent when seeking treatment. Symptoms are the same as with children and adults, but for those too young to verbally declare what they are feeling, parents have to act as detectives. 

Clues can be found if the child wakes from sleep screaming, is hesitant when being touched, sensitive to light and sound, has a sinus infection, or is teething. Migraines are all a possible cause of their misery. 

Dr. Ken Tudor’s wrote an article on PetMD’s website where he said the following:

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), migraine headaches are the 19th most disabling condition for humans worldwide. Because there are no tests to prove a migraine is happening, humans rely on the ability to communicate their discomfort in order to receive treatment. Pets do not have that luxury.”

When it comes to animals not much is different than the situation is with infants, as they too cannot express themselves verbally. Often they will cry out and be inconsolable. 

Horses can be found sweating on their forehead and ears.

Dogs specifically pace back and forth, keep their heads down, can have a tight mouth and jaw, and can even shake uncontrollably. 

Dogs are so sensitive they have even been known to signal their owners in advance of their own migraine attacks making them great service pets.

The trauma from such extreme pain hits everyone and every animal differently but not less intensely. 

“Thus, in my view, any animal with a brain is likely to suffer from migraines and headaches.” 

This view expressed by a medical student is the best way to describe this illness and its victims.  

Unfortunately pain is something all of us in the animal kingdom are vulnerable to. 


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