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What is a Migraine Alert Dog?

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service dogs for migraines

Service Dog For Migraines

A migraine alert dog plays an important role in ensuring that migraine patients are alerted when they initially have the onset of a migraine. If you've ever suffered from the effects of a migraine, you know how hard these awful headaches are and how important quick relief is.

Spotting Early Signs

Although many people are good at spotting the early signs of a headache, sometimes a migraine can sneak up unexpectedly. When this happens, you may have a severe migraine with poor response to medication before you even know it.

This is where a service dog for migraines can be very helpful. One of the things that these dogs do is pick up on the possibility of a migraine during the early phases, hopefully in enough time to treat it before a headache gets very bad.

What Happens Before a Migraine?

Many migraine sufferers go through an early phase, called the prodrome phase, that may happen 48 hours before the pain symptoms begin. During this phase, there are symptoms related to changes in the nervous system that include:

  • Digestive upsets like diarrhea or constipation
  • Either fatigue or hyperactivity
  • Difficulty concentrating or mood swings
  • Yawning

Migraine therapy dogs are trained to support subtle changes in your behavior that might not be immediately obvious to you. Dogs are very acutely aware of everything that goes on with their owners and is likely to pick up on these changes very quickly.

How a Migraine Alert Dog Helps

The sensitive perception that dogs have is truly remarkable, from knowing when you're about to arrive home to when you're sad. Because of your dog's perception and natural bond with you, he or she will be able to swing into action when they sense something isn't right with you.

A dog's sense of smell helps them notice changes in your system that are probably otherwise unnoticeable to you. When the dog is trained in migraine therapy, he or she will know what to do to get your attention, including:

  • Staring at your or sticking very closely
  • Giving you a nudge or licking you
  • Circling around you
  • Barking to get your attention

Why Dogs Require Special Training

Even though most pets are perceptive about changes with their owners, pet dogs won't necessarily be able to alert you in the way that a migraine therapy dog does. A dog's temperament also plays a role in how well they can be used for this type of therapy.

However, the good news is that many owners are blessed with dogs that pick up on their migraines naturally, with one study revealing that 50 to 60 percent of dogs could detect their owners' migraines.

Deciding If You're a Good Fit

Like any dog, a migraine therapy dog will require some responsibility. However, it can be rewarding to have a furry friend to help you if any of these are true:

  • You find yourself having strong and even strange food cravings
  • The day or so before your migraines involves frequent bathroom trips
  • Getting sleepy right before a migraine is common for you

Service Dog Gear

If you do decide that getting a service dog to help with your migraines makes sense, we offer a variety of service dog gear you will want to check out.


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People who get warning signs before their migraine hits often do very well having a migraine therapy dog. Consider the benefits of a service dog for migraines or therapy dog if this is something that may work well for you and your circumstances.


Meet The Author 

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.



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