Yes, but how can you tell when your animal has a cracking headache?
Headaches happen to us, and they happen to our dogs, cats, bunnies, ferrets, horses – and any other animal that has a skull. It’s something that never even got mentioned in all of my 5 years fo study at vet school. Not once! And why? Because there is no easy way for anyone to be able to tell when an animal has a headache. So it’s a problem that is pretty much ignored. Actually, it’s not really ignored, because no one even realises that it’s a problem.
This is a kind of silent pain that even a skilled hands-on assessment like I teach in the Whole Energy Balance Bodywork training won’t be able to see most of the time. Headache pain doesn’t usually show up in any way in the body. There’s nothing to feel, no body pain or tension to find. (Unless it’s coming from neck issues – a percentage of all headaches are due to the neck being out of alignment- and the WEBB work can certainly help you find and relieve these ones!)
The technology in the hands of veterinarians can’t ‘see’ headaches in the vast majority of cases. Imaging is useless unless there is a tumour, a fungal infection, or maybe severe autoimmune disease. Oh- or syringomyelia, a common problem in flat-faced breeds that causes neck pain and headaches. You can pick that up on an MRI scan. But I reckon well over 90% of headaches in dogs, cats, and other animals will be undiagnosable with the tools vets have available.
The thing is, vets nearly always don’t even consider headaches as a possibility
Why? Because, like for me during my veterinary training, it’s not mentioned much, if at all. And if you have no way of finding out if there is a headache, then even if you suspect one, what are you going to do? About all most vets could do when they suspect a headache is to give some pain relief. And if you saw an improvement with pain relief, then you’d have to think about ruling out other causes of pain in the body to be even reasonably suspicious that headache was the problem.
It’s a problem – most of all for any animals suffering with headaches, I reckon! But there are signs to look out for, even though there are no objective tests to give a definitive diagnosis.
Signs that your pet may have a headache may include:
- Squinting eyes
- Avoiding bright light
- Head shaking
- Head pressing
- Wanting to be alone
- Frequent blinking
- Distressed or dull expression
- Less responsive, reluctant to do things they normally love
- Different head posture
- Irritable, snappy, aggressive
- Not themselves
- Off colour, off food
- Unusually reactive to loud sounds
- Head shy
- May seem to be dazed
If it’s not clear what’s going on, and if you can’t find any other causes, then testing response to pain relief may be well worthwhile. If your animal has episodes like this, you’ve ruled out as many other possible causes that you can, and pain relief removes the symptoms, the likelihood of it being a headache is much higher. A good natural medicine to try would be a CBD rich whole plant Hemp extract. Indivita is a great brand.
In any case, you absolutely should either get someone skilled to assess your dog’s neck for neck pain and neuro-fascial pain. It’s a significant cause of headaches (I know this for myself, only too well). You can easily learn how to do find and melt away silent pain from your pet’s life yourself, and this sort of pain (neuro-fascial) is the most common cause of silent pain in our pets’s bodies by far.
Come and join over 800 other devoted pet guardians who are transforming their pets’ lives for the better with the Whole Energy Body Balance Method.
One of the WEBB Bodywork skills (craniosacral), can help to relieve some headaches, too!