Exploring the Role of Animal-Assisted Therapy in Migraine Relief

Exploring the Role of Animal-Assisted Therapy in Migraine Relief


Migraine attacks are debilitating and can severely impact an individual’s quality of life. Traditional treatment options, although effective for many, may not fully address the multifaceted nature of this neurological disorder. However, a growing field of alternative therapy called animal-assisted therapy has shown promise in providing relief from migraine attacks. By incorporating animals into the treatment process, this therapy aims to reduce stress, provide distraction and relaxation, and offer social support and emotional well-being. Let’s explore the role of animal-assisted therapy in migraine relief and how it can enhance traditional treatment approaches.

Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy for Migraine Relief

Stress reduction

Migraine Attacks can be triggered or exacerbated by stress. Animal companionship has been shown to reduce stress levels in humans, leading to potential benefits for migraine sufferers. Interacting with animals, such as petting a dog or stroking a cat, releases oxytocin, a hormone associated with relaxation and stress reduction. Research studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy in reducing stress and anxiety, which could help prevent or alleviate migraine attacks.

Distraction and relaxation

When experiencing a migraine attack, diverting attention from pain and discomfort can be helpful. Animals, with their calming presence, can provide a welcome distraction. Whether it’s watching a dog perform tricks or simply observing a cat play, these interactions can encourage relaxation and reduce anxiety, potentially alleviating some of the symptoms associated with migraine attacks.

Social support and emotional well-being

Migraine attacks often lead to social isolation due to individuals needing to retreat to a quiet, dark room to manage the pain. This isolation can result in feelings of loneliness and emotional distress. Animals, on the other hand, offer unconditional love and support. They provide a source of companionship and can help foster emotional well-being in individuals dealing with chronic pain. The presence of a therapy animal can provide comfort and a sense of connection, reducing feelings of isolation and promoting emotional healing.

Types of Animals Used in Animal-Assisted Therapy for Migraine Relief


Dogs are often used in animal-assisted therapy due to their special bond with humans. Petting a dog has been shown to have a calming effect on people, reducing blood pressure and releasing endorphins. Therapy dogs are trained and certified to ensure they can provide the necessary support and interact safely with patients. Their presence can create a soothing environment for individuals seeking relief from migraine attacks.


Cats, known for their independent nature, can also play a role in animal-assisted therapy for migraine relief. Their comforting purring and gentle presence can create a calming effect, aiding in relaxation and stress reduction. Incorporating cats into therapy programs can offer an alternative option for those who may prefer feline companionship.

Other animals

Animal-assisted therapy is not limited to dogs and cats. Horses, for example, are often used in equine-assisted therapy, where individuals interact with horses under the guidance of a trained professional. Birds, such as parrots, can also be part of therapy sessions, as their vibrant colors and engaging personalities can offer therapeutic benefits. Some therapy programs may even involve interactions with exotic animals, each with its own unique benefits for migraine relief.

Implementing Animal-Assisted Therapy for Migraine Relief

Finding a qualified therapist or organization

When considering animal-assisted therapy for migraine attacks, it’s essential to find a qualified therapist or organization with experience in this field. Look for certifications and training requirements to ensure the therapists are well-equipped to provide the necessary support. Reading patient testimonials and reviews can also help gauge the effectiveness of a particular therapist or organization.

Establishing a rapport with the animal

Building trust and comfort between the patient and the therapy animal is crucial for effective treatment. During initial introductions and interactions, it’s important to allow the space and time for both the individual and the animal to establish a connection. Regular sessions are necessary to maintain and strengthen this rapport, creating a safe and supportive environment.

Incorporating animal-assisted therapy into existing migraine treatment plans

Animal-assisted therapy should be seen as a complementary approach to traditional migraine treatment plans. It’s crucial to coordinate with healthcare providers to ensure the therapy aligns with the individual’s overall treatment goals. Setting realistic goals and expectations, and regularly monitoring and evaluating the therapy’s effectiveness, can help optimize the benefits of animal-assisted therapy.

Considerations and Precautions in Animal-Assisted Therapy for Migraine Relief

Allergies and sensitivities

Before engaging in animal-assisted therapy, it’s important to assess any potential allergies or sensitivities individuals may have towards animals. Openly discussing concerns with the therapist can help address these issues and explore alternative forms of therapy if necessary.

Safety and hygiene

Creating a clean and safe environment is essential for therapy sessions involving animals. Proper handling and grooming practices should be followed to ensure the well-being of both the animals and the patients. Regular vaccinations and health checks are crucial to maintain the animals’ health and prevent any potential risks.

Individual preferences and comfort levels

Respecting patients’ preferences regarding the type of animals used in therapy is important. Flexibility in therapy options should be allowed to accommodate individual comfort levels and preferences. Open communication between the patient and therapist is necessary to ensure a positive and effective experience.


Animal-assisted therapy offers a unique and potentially beneficial approach to migraine relief. From stress reduction to distraction and relaxation, as well as social support and emotional well-being, animals can play a crucial role in helping individuals manage their migraine attacks. Whether it’s through dogs, cats, horses, birds, or even exotic animals, animal-assisted therapy provides a comforting and nurturing environment. By incorporating this therapy into existing treatment plans and addressing considerations and precautions, individuals can explore new avenues for finding relief from the burdens of migraine attacks.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

You Will Also Like

Back to Blog

Leave your mobile to get a link to download the app