What is a Migraine Alert Dog?

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.

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.

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Karen Easterwood

Karen Easterwood said:

How do I go about getting a migraine dog? I suffer with them severely. Loss of speech, sight and other things as well. I average an e.r visit almost. Monthly. Thank you!!

Suka. Suluka

Suka. Suluka said:

Iam interested in having a fur best friend as my doctor. I suffer from migraine. Medicines sometimes helps. Most of the time, it’s either I get to it late. I have severe chronic migraines. Please, help me.

SitStay Hannah

SitStay Hannah said:

Hello Karen and Suka,
We recommend speaking to your respective doctors as they can help determine if a migraine alert dog is beneficial to you, or if there is another method that would work better for you.
If you already have a dog, a local organization may be able to help you train your dog to better alert you of an oncoming migraine.
Hope this helps!

Debby Ross

Debby Ross said:

I have severe chronic migraines how do I qualify for a service dog

SitStay Hannah

SitStay Hannah said:

Hi Debby,
Thank you for reaching out! We recommend speaking to your doctor as they will be able to help determine the best method for treating your migraines, which can include a service dog.

Hannah Bender

Hannah Bender said:

I get migraines a few times each week. I have been to my doctor a lot and have tried 2 different medications. But they don’t seem to work. I take migraine Excedrin now and helps a little. I am very interested in getting my dog trained to sense my migraines. He is a Beagle Mix and is 9 years old but still has all the energy of a puppy. Can I go to any dog trainer? Generally how long does it take to get them trained? What is the average cost on training?

SitStay Hannah

SitStay Hannah said:

Hello Hannah,
We recommend looking for a trainer who has experience training service dogs as they tend to be a bit more knowledgeable about the industry. AssistanceDogsInternational.org is a great organization that helps connect people to trainers in their area. The time and cost of the training vary on where you visit and how long your dog takes to train.
Please let us know of any additional questions you may have!

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