Migraines and Headaches: 8 Surprising Health Benefits of Pet Ownership for Migraines

Reviewed on 9/17/2021

Migraines and Pet Ownership

Owning a pet may help you if you have migraines.

Migraines can affect your quality of life and your long-term health. Could having a pet help improve both? There are some surprising benefits to sharing your life with a fur baby when you have migraines.

Less Depression and Anxiety

Pet ownership may help balance brain chemicals that are involved in mood disorders and migraines.

Depression and anxiety are common for people with migraines. The same brain chemicals may be involved in all three conditions. Studies have shown that pets can reduce depression, anxiety, and stress. Hanging out with a pet lowers your body's levels of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone.

Fewer Headaches

Physical activity increases endorphins and feel-good chemicals, which may help you have fewer migraines.

Regular exercise is thought to boost brain chemicals called endorphins and betacannabinoids, which may mean fewer migraines. Dogs motivate you to exercise, since they need frequent walks. When you move with your pooch, you may prevent migraines, too.

Healthier Heart

Having migraines is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

If you often have migraines, you're at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Your stroke risk is even greater if you have migraines with aura. One way to improve your heart health? Get a cat. Petting a cat reduces stress, and cat owners have a lower risk of strokes and heart conditions. (In fairness to dog lovers, petting a dog has similar effects.)

More Sleep, Fewer Migraines

Having a pet sleep in your room may help you sleep better.

Migraines often disturb your sleep. If you get them often, you're probably a poor sleeper. To sleep better, park your pet nearby. Research shows that people whose dogs snoozed in the same room slept restfully through the night -- but not if the pets actually slept on the bed with them.

Feel Less Lonely

Pets help alleviate loneliness, which may help you self-manage migraines.

Loneliness can make it harder to self-manage your chronic migraines, research has found. So it makes sense that easing loneliness might help you cope with migraines better. Pets are loyal companions. Your pet is always eager to hang out on the couch with you or "listen" when you need to talk.

Be More Social

Dogs help you socialize and meet new people.

Migraines can disrupt your social life. You may find it hard to make plans with friends or take part in social activities because of unexpected headaches. A dog can help you stay social. One survey found that almost half of dog owners made new friends while walking their pooches or going to dog training classes.

Avoid Wild Weather

Weather changes can trigger migraines, so stay indoors and cuddle a pet instead.

Storms and high temperatures can trigger migraines. But staying indoors helps. When you're feeling cooped up in your home on hot or rainy days, an indoor pet can keep you company. Experts say keeping cats inside is safer and healthier for them. When the weather's extreme, curl up on the couch with Kitty.

Improve Your Love Life

Owning a pet may help you attract a mate.

Migraines can dampen your desire for sex. But having satisfying sex may ease migraine symptoms. If you're looking for a partner, a pet could help you attract one. In one study, more than one-third of online daters sought mates whose profiles included pet photos. Pet owners were seen as more attractive in another study.

Migraines and Headaches: 8 Surprising Health Benefits of Pet Ownership for Migraines

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