Coping, News & Research

Dogs Could Alert Owners to Migraine Attacks Before People Notice Symptoms

Medical alert dogs are service dogs trained to warn a diabetic if their blood sugar drops or an epileptic if they have an oncoming seizure. Migraine is possibly another condition dogs can alert their owners to, according to a survey conducted on

Over 1000 of you completed this survey and 54 percent of you reported that you recognized a change in your dog’s behavior before or during the initial phases of your migraine. Most people reported their dog became excessively attentive before or at the beginning of a migraine. People often described their dog as becoming “clingy,” “glued to my side,” and “Velcro dog.” Intense staring, frantic licking, pawing, and whining were also frequently described. Interestingly, over half of those recognizing a migraine alerting behavior reported that this typically occurred before any migraine symptoms, usually within 2 hours of an impending migraine. And this link between a change in your dog’s behavior and a migraine occurred consistently for about 60 percent of people.

I frequently referred to my last dog as Velcro. I thought she damaged from being in a puppy mill, but maybe she was just warning me of impending migraine attacks. Since they were nearly constant, I wouldn’t be able to tell between her normal behavior and pre-migraine behavior.

Seriously, though, this could be significant for people with episodic migraine. Migraine abortives work best if they are taken as early as possible in the migraine attack. If you are able to correlate a change in your dog’s behavior and your migraines, your abortives could be more effective.

Does your dog behave differently before you have a migraine attack?

5 thoughts on “Dogs Could Alert Owners to Migraine Attacks Before People Notice Symptoms”

  1. Migraine alert and response dogs are invaluable and can drastically change someone’s life. I train migraine alert/response service dogs for my clients, and each one gives back their handler so much independence and confidence that it’s incredible to see. Besides alerting to an impending attack, the dog can be trained to respond to migraine attacks; fetching medication, picking up dropped items, opening doors, turning off lights, bringing help or doing deep pressure therapy for pain. It’s pretty awesome!

  2. I just rescued my 4 yr old shih tzu from Craigslist, she was for free, and after bringing her home I understood why, she was in horrifying condition. Worms, flea infestation for who knows how long, knotted and ratted fur, so treated her for everything, shaved all her fur off, or what she would let me, and she had scabs and sores under her fur. Fur rapped and in twined around her teeth. When I rescued her, I had hopes she would be a service dog, just wasn’t sure which one, I have mental illness and migraines. Well while training her for my extended moods, and tension I experience from my PTSD and other mental illnesses, I discovered her doing something difference once while I was having a fairly mild migraine, she stayed real close to me until I came out of it with medication. So now When I have one I tell her about it, called her one time to my lap, showed her my medication, gave her a treat. let her smell me, lick me, and then let her down when I felt better. Well as I write this I am still feeling the migraine, not to bad, but still have it, and she has been on my lap the entire time, going on 2 hours now. This has been great help to me, I can’t believe I have only had her since April, and this is only August. What a smart cookie I have. I don’t know what I would do without Starr. Diffidently getting her certified as my medical alert and PTSD service dog if that is possible.

  3. Yes, dogs can and do alert to migraines. A lot of seizure alert dogs will also alert to migraines, not having been trained for the migraine alert but trained for seizure alert. Migraines and seizures are related, so it makes sense that the dogs also alert to migraines. If your migraines are chronic and disabling and you get no warning signs (such as aura), you may qualify for a migraine alert service dog, which can also be trained to help you in other ways related to your disability, such as retrieve a bottle of water to take rescue meds with or call for help/get another person who is in the house or help with your balance when you’re dizzy from the migraine.

  4. wow, yes! My American Bulldog would lay ON me when I was coming into and deeply into migraine. When he was a pup he would sit next to me and just whine, which was irritating since I was agitated just prior to migraine, not realizing one was on it’s way. Dogs are amazing!

  5. That is very cool. I’ve always wanted a dog. Can’t at the moment for various reasons but this will certainly be a factor! 🙂

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