Do any animals, other than humans, get headaches?
November 25, 2010 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Random question time: Do any animals, other than humans, get headaches?
posted by FunGus to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure cats do - one of my cats had a horrific sinus issue, and my vet explained to me that the reason she was in so much pain was because she probably had a killer sinus headache.
posted by cgg at 11:47 AM on November 25, 2010

My cat developed a peculiar spot in the iris of one of his eyes. The vet said he was probably having terrible headaches in conjunction with this symptom -- the meds he gave me cleared it up, but the cat's behavior wasn't all that different, before or after, so who can really say?
posted by Rash at 11:59 AM on November 25, 2010

Yeah, my vet told me that my cat was probably having headaches from something... (I forget what, this was many years ago and she had many maladies).
posted by amro at 12:11 PM on November 25, 2010

A vet I recall once diagnosed a brain tumor by the way a bear was acting; groaning, snappish, wanted to sit in the corner with his head very still and his eyes shut; "He acts just like he's got a really bad headache!"
posted by The otter lady at 12:21 PM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

I had two dogs of mine get intothw wort from a brew of beer I did. They did not come out of their doghouse the next day exceptto drink some water
posted by zombieApoc at 12:42 PM on November 25, 2010 [11 favorites]

Yes !! animals can get headaces from from ear mites and high fevers
posted by mel001 at 1:39 PM on November 25, 2010

I suppose it is pretty hard to tell. But expressions can be revealing. Searching Flickr for "Dog +headache" got me this and this. "Cat + headache" got me this. And, from youtube, here is a dog getting an icecream headache.
posted by rongorongo at 1:40 PM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

I had a dog that ran full speed into a post once and knocked herself out for a second and had a headache for a day or so. She avoided lights and movement, lay with her paws over her eyes, moaned and complained and generally acted like a Warner Bros cartoon character after the anvil falls on them. Gently rubbing her temples gave her visible relief.

Horses can also get headaches and will stand with their heads pressed against a wall or tree. I've only seen it when the horse in question was sick with something else (cancer, allergies, eye problem) not as a primary thing but I'm sure it's possible.
posted by fshgrl at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yep, and stomach aches, toothache, tiredness.. We're not as physiologically unusual as a species as we like to think.
posted by wackybrit at 2:39 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yep. My hound (who snores horribly) probably has a deviated septum or some such; his favorite place to be petted/rubbed is the bridge of his nose between his eyes.
posted by SpecialK at 8:46 AM on November 26, 2010

If you are looking for a disease or symptom which afflicts only the human race, out of all the species of animals, you won't find many, but I would guess that schizophrenia is ours alone. When you consider the tremendous similarity of chimpanzees and some other primates to people, there is no reason why they should not have the same range of diseasees, except for those which require the more advanced cognitive processes, which are the sole unique feature of the human species (and even then, there are those who think that cetaceans have hidden intellectual talents - although I personally don't). To have a headache, it is only necessary to have a head. Something hurts the head, and a headache results. It may be, though, that the human race has a greater propensity toward headaches than any other species does.
posted by grizzled at 10:56 AM on November 26, 2010

The short answer is, we can't really tell for certain. But probably.

The longer answer is ... it is a very hard thing to prove. While it seems reasonable that because dogs have similar physiology to us and suffer from many similar ailments, whether they perceive things the same way is currently (to the best of my knowledge) impossible to prove. Quantifying pain in humans is difficult because people are so unique in their experiences of pain. In animals there is a communication barrier to complicate things further (not to mention we can't know how an animal experiences the world and thus pain). Thus determining and measuring pain in animals is a debatable, imprecise and complex exercise (that gets harder the less domesticated a species is and for a wide variety of other factors). In practice we use a mix of physiological signs, behavioural indicators we associate with pain and anthropomorphism to estimate if an animal is in pain. In particular asking about headaches in a very quick search there are no studies I could find about this topic particular.

The personal veterinary perspective is... very likely. But I base this on patients that have behavioural and physiologic signs we associate with pain in conjunction with injuries or diseases that humans experience as a "headache". When vets (or anyone else for that matter) makes statements such as "Fluffy has a headache" we don't really know for sure and likely never will, but it seems to me reasonable to assume they do given our current knowledge of anatomy and physiology.
posted by NeatBeat at 4:31 AM on November 28, 2010

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