A recent study set out to look at just this question. Dawn Marcus from the University of Pittsburg and Amrita Bhowmick from the L.L.C Health Union conducted research to see whether dogs could recognise the early signs of an upcoming migraine, even before their owners were aware of it.
Before a migraine 80% of sufferers commonly experience, although not always knowingly, a range of “migraine prodromes”. These symptoms such as yawning, needing to pee more often, mood swings, neck pain, a decreased attention span and food cravings. Dogs are very sensitive to their surroundings and notice changes in their owners’ behaviour. In support of this, previous studies have suggested that there are some dogs who know when seizures are about to occur in epileptic patients and some who can sense impending earthquakes.
Of the 1027 participants who were questioned about their dogs and their migraines in this study, 54% had seen their pet change their behaviour, either before or during one of their migraine attacks. Several owners said that their pet would stay by their side in the time leading up to the migraine and continue next to them until the attack was over. One owner reported that their dog woke them up by consistently licking her face before an attack. Now thanks to her dog she can know in advance when she needs to take pre-emptive medication. She was just one of 60% of those participants who saw a behaviour change who reported that their dog had been able to alert them over an hour before the migraine took place.
This research is by no means irrefutable proof, for one thing the results are based entirely on online questionnaires which were completed after the event, but it does provide an interesting new avenue that’s worth exploring in more depth. Dog owners staunchly maintain that their pets understand them and can tell how they are feeling, and we already know that dogs can be trained for drug detection and as seeing-eye dogs so why not as migraine-warning dogs?
There are other ways that our pets can help us as well. There is scientific evidence that shows being around animals that we love produces oxytocin; a chemical proven to help control blood pressure, reduce stress and triggers feelings of attachment. Cats and dogs are often taken into hospitals and retirement homes as petting animals has been shown to help people feel less lonely, happier and heal quicker.
There’s no doubt that animals are more intelligent than most people give them credit for and we are continually discovering new ways in which they can help us; sniffer bees being just one of the latest additions to the human-helping animal fold. And besides, even if it does turn out that your pet can’t tell you when an attack is about to strike, we love them just the same.
DISCLAIMER – When using any medication, always read the label and make sure you keep all medicines out of reach of children. The information supplied within this online resource is brought to you by Imigran Recovery Tablets (contains sumatriptan) for migraine relief, from a variety of author sources including health care professionals, lifestyle experts and the general public. None of the published authors endorse any brands.