5 Reasons Why Dogs Shake Their Heads

Have you noticed that your dog has been shaking his or her head a lot recently?

As a pet owner, you will be familiar with the normal behavior of your dog. If they suddenly begin behaving in an unusual way, it can be concerning.

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If you notice that your dog’s head shakes more frequently than usual and/or for no apparent reason, then there are several potential reasons that may be behind it. It may be a sign of allergies, or it could be an immune system response to something more severe.

Don’t panic! Usually, head shaking is not indicative of any serious health issues. However, if your dog is showing signs of pain, discomfort or illness, there may be a reason to take them to the vet straight away for medical advice. 

In this article, we will be looking at some common causes of canine head shaking, as well as how to treat it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Should I Be Concerned About My Dog Shaking Their Head?

If your dog shakes his or her head infrequently, and it does not seem to be a common occurrence, there may be nothing to worry about.

Sometimes, it may simply be the case that an insect has flown too close to your dog’s ear, and they are trying to shake them away. They can also shake their heads when they have something in their mouth, which makes noise.

It could also be due to stress. If you notice that this behavior seems to occur more often when your dog is anxious, fearful, or stressed out, then you should talk with your veterinarian for advice on how to best address this issue.

However, these are generally nothing to worry about as they can be easily explained, and they do not affect your dog on a daily basis.

If you find that your dog is shaking their head a lot, there may be an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. If you are extremely concerned about your dog’s head shaking, you should contact your vet for further advice. 

Below, we have listed 5 reasons why your dog may be shaking his or her head. If you believe that your dog is suffering from any of these five issues, you should call your local veterinarian immediately.

Some of these issues are sometimes connected to each other, so if one thing is causing trouble, it may cause others to appear. This is why it is important to get to the root of the issue as soon as possible.

Here are 5 reasons your dog may be shaking their head.

1. Something’s Moving In Or Around Your Dog’s Ears

As we previously mentioned, a common reason for a dog to shake their head is due to foreign bodies moving around close to their ears. The reason for them shaking their head is to swat the object away so that they don’t get stuck inside their ears.

However, this could be a sign of ear mites, fleas, or ticks surrounding their ears, or more worryingly, an insect or object has become lodged inside their ear.

If you see anything move in or around your dog’s ears, you need to immediately seek veterinary attention to get it removed, as this could cause infection.

2. Your Dog Has An Ear Infection

If your dog has an ear infection, it can often be difficult to tell: after all, they can’t open their mouths and tell you about it. They will, however, become agitated due to the itchiness and pain that comes with an ear infection, and this will cause them to shake their heads.

Ear infections in dogs are typically caused by excessive cleaning, moisture around the area, an injury, or a build up of wax. Each of these may result in a bacterial infection, yeast infection, or virus.

Other symptoms of an ear infection include ear scratching, yellow/brown discharge, and bad odor stemming from the area.

If you notice any of these signs, it is highly recommended that you take your dog to see your vet straight away. They can prescribe ear medication, such as antifungal medication or anti-inflammatory medication, depending on the infection that your dog is suffering from.

3. Your Dog Has Developed An Ear Hematoma

An ear hematoma is often the result of an untreated, particularly bad infection in the ear. It develops due to blood accumulating around the ear canal.

This results in swelling, which causes pressure to increase within the ear. As a result, the dog shakes their head to relieve the pressure.

While head shaking is a common sign that your dog may be suffering from an ear hematoma, unfortunately, it is also one of the causes for it developing in the first place. If a dog shakes its head too vigorously, it can lead to ruptured blood vessels, which results in an increased amount of blood collecting in the area.

Common symptoms of an ear hematoma in dogs are ear swelling, head tilting, and sensitivity around the ears and head. Ear hematomas can cause extreme pain for a dog, therefore it is best that you contact your veterinarian straight away if you notice any of these issues occurring.

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4. Your Dog Has Allergies

Just like humans, dogs can suffer allergies from a vast variety of things, including food, pollen, mold, dust mites, etc. Although most of us would assume that our dogs aren’t sensitive enough to the same allergens that we are, this isn’t always the case.

The symptoms of an allergy vary greatly between individuals. For instance, some dogs just develop itchy skin and fur, while others experience swelling, eye and/or nasal discharge, weight loss, and fur loss.

When your dog starts showing signs of having an allergic reaction, there are certain steps you can take to help alleviate the problem.

There are a number of medications that can help your dog deal with his or her allergies, but you should consult with your vet to find out more information before attempting to treat your own pet yourself.

5. Your Dog Has A Neurological Disorder

Lastly, continuous head shaking may be a clinical sign that your dog is suffering from a neurological disorder. Some of these disorders include hepatic encephalopathy, canine dementia, and epilepsy.

Neurological disorders are fairly uncommon in dogs, but they are definitely something that you should be aware of, especially if you notice your dog is displaying continuous head tremors. They can affect your dog’s behavior and personality, resulting in a wide range of other difficulties.

There are several treatments available for these conditions. Unfortunately, many of these disorders require long-term treatment and care, so it is important that you seek veterinary attention immediately if you suspect that your dog has developed a neurological condition. 

In order to maintain your dog’s quality of life, it is imperative that you know what the usual symptoms of each of these illnesses are. This way, you will be able to catch them as early as possible, allowing your dog to receive the appropriate medical attention quickly.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know what causes a dog to shake their heads, if you think that your dog may be experiencing one of these issues, you can take action accordingly to help prevent them from getting worse.

When your dog starts shaking their head excessively, be sure to check their ears for redness, swelling, discolored skin, and/or a foul odor. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact an experienced veterinarian immediately to make sure everything is okay.

There are so many reasons for head shaking in dogs, and usually, these reasons are nothing to be concerned about. However, it is always best to be on the safe side when dealing with animals, especially when it comes to their health.

We wish you and your furry friend the best of luck.

Megan Turner
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