Why Does My Dog Keep Shaking His Head?Updated: May 11, 2023
As a pet parent, you might have probably asked yourself, “Why does my dog keep shaking his head?”. While occasional head shaking is normal, frequent or excessive head shaking could be a sign of an underlying health problem. In this article, we will explore the reasons why your dog may be shaking their head and what you can do about it.
An ear infection is a common cause of a dog shaking head. Your dog may have an ear infection if they’re shaking their head and ears, have unpleasant ear odor, show redness and swelling of the ears, have discharge coming from their ears, or tilt their head while resting. The shaking of the head is a reflex action that can help to dislodge debris and fluid from the ear canal. It is crucial to take your dog to the veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Southeast Veterinary Neurology states that it’s possible for a dog to shake its head to relieve their mouth of discomfort. Your dog may shake their head if they have an infection in their mouth (they may also drool excessively, have foul breath, and having trouble eating or drinking). Periodontal disease is one of the most typical causes of mouth infections in dogs. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque and tartar accumulation on the teeth and gums of your furbaby.
Dogs are prone to allergies, which may result in excessive head shaking. Things like food, pollen, dust mites, and flea bites, can trigger allergies. Histamines are released by a dog's immune system in response to an allergic reaction, which can result in itching and inflammation. Dogs may scratch their ears or shake their heads in response to the itching. Dogs with allergies may also exhibit symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, itching, and skin irritation.
Stuck Foreign Objects
Your dog may have a foreign object lodged in their ear if they are shaking their heads violently or excessively. When a foreign object, such as grass, seeds, or even insects, becomes lodged in your furbaby's ear, it can cause discomfort and irritation, leading to head shaking.
Do not try to remove a foreign object from your dog's ear if you suspect it is there. Bring them to the vet so they may have the thing removed properly and safely. Your dog's ear or mouth will be examined by your veterinarian using specialist tools to locate the foreign object. Sedation may be required in some circumstances to remove the object. Your veterinarian may also suggest treatment with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs to manage any accompanying inflammation or infection.
"When a foreign object, such as grass, seeds, or even insects, becomes lodged in your furbaby's ear, it can cause discomfort and irritation, leading to head shaking."
Your dog may have an ear mite infestation if they keep on shaking their heads. It is essential to take your dog to the vet for a checkup if you think they may have ear mites. Your dog's ears can be examined by your veterinarian, who can also identify the existence of ear mites and recommend the proper course of treatment, which may involve either topical or oral drugs. You can also clean your dog's ears using Pet WiPees™ Ear to get rid of any discharge or dirt and stop subsequent infections. These pet wipes are made for daily usage on your pet's ears and contain a variety of pet-safe ingredients!
Neurological issues can refer to a variety of conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, or nerves, and can cause a range of symptoms, including head shaking. Some neurological issues that can cause head shaking in dogs include:
- Vestibular disease: This inner ear disorder can result in a lack of balance, disorientation, and a tilted head, which can induce head shaking.
- Seizures: Dogs who are having seizures, which are brought on by unusual electrical activity in the brain, may suddenly start shaking their heads aggressively.
- Brain tumors: Head shaking is one of the neurological signs that can be brought on by brain tumors.
- Infectious diseases: Distemper and rabies are two infectious disorders in dogs that can affect the neurological system and create symptoms like head shaking.
Water in the Ears
The presence of water in the ear might also be the cause of why your furbaby keeps shaking their head. A dog's ear canal can get moist when water gets inside, which can encourage the growth of germs and yeast that can irritate and infect the ear. Dogs may shake their heads in an effort to clear their heads of the water in response to their discomfort.
However, this is easily prevented by placing cotton balls (or half a cotton ball for small breeds) in the dog’s ears prior to bathing or swimming. Avoid spraying or dumping water directly on your dog’s head during a bath. Instead, bathe their body from the neck down and wipe down their face and ears with a damp washcloth or with Pet WiPees™ Dog All Purpose + Skin & Coat. If your dog won't tolerate having cotton balls in their ears while swimming, think about using an ear band or drying out their ears after the swim. Based on your dog's specific needs, your veterinarian can suggest a safe and efficient product.
"Clean your dog's ears using Pet WiPees™ Ear to get rid of any discharge or dirt and stop subsequent infections. These pet wipes are made for daily usage on your pet's ears and contain a variety of pet-safe ingredients!"
Stress and Anxiety
If your dog is always shaking his head, it can also be brought on by stress and anxiety. Numerous factors including separation anxiety, changes in habit or environment, loud noises, or socialization challenges can cause anxiety or stress in dogs. Dogs may shake their heads in response to stress in order to release tension or discomfort.
Other serious health conditions can cause head tremors (often confused with head shaking). Visit a veterinarian if you notice consistent shaking of your dog’s head.
Not only could a dog's head shaking be the sign of a health condition, but it can also result in ruptured blood vessels in their ear flaps. While some head-shaking in dogs is not particularly alarming, it is crucial to take the time to identify the root cause of the problem, so you can get your dog help.
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