Dogs that are shaking their head might be suffering from a variety of conditions. Some owners might think that some dog head shaking is normal, but there are many reasons that you should be concerned if your dog is shaking their head a lot. A dog shaking its head can indicate discomfort even if your dog seems all right overall.
Dogs that are shaking their head can injure their ears and cause full-body soreness if the head shaking goes on for a long time. There are also some serious conditions that can be related to head shaking, so you will want to be sure that you are not ignoring a serious health concern if your dog is shaking their head.
Reasons a Dog Would Shake Their Head
Here are some reasons why a dog would shake their head. It is of course best to talk with your veterinarian if you notice your dog shaking their head more often than normal.
1. Ear Infection
This is the most common reason for dog head shaking. Dogs with ear infections might also scratch at their ears and cry when their ears are touched. Head shaking is the most common symptom of an ear infection, and this shaking can lead to swollen ears that fill up with blood. Dog’s ears are very delicate, and they can easily burst blood vessels. This can lead to painful ears that are full of blood and require surgery to repair.
When your dog is picking at their ears, crying, or shaking their head, an ear infection should be the first thing that your veterinarian rules out. This is something that you cannot treat at home, and you will need to take a dog with an ear infection to the vet. Your dog will need antibiotics and might also need some help with swollen ears that have been damaged due to their head shaking. It can only take a couple of days for your dog to damage their ears from shaking, so you will want to hurry to the vet if you think your dog has an ear infection.
2. Ear Mites
Ear mites are another common reason for dog head shaking. These little pests move into the ear and cause discomfort, itching, and swelling. This condition is easily identified by the dark discharge that is present in the ear related to the mites. Your vet will provide you with ear mite drops, and you will need to clean your dog’s ears daily for a while. You might also need to give them antibiotics to treat any secondary infections that have happened from scratching.
Ear mites are very contagious, and you will want to make sure that all the dogs in your home do not have this condition. If you have one dog that has ear mites, you might have a house full of dogs with ear mites in no time at all. It is always a good idea to check that all your dogs are not infected when you are planning treatment for the dog showing symptoms.
3. Ear Polyps
Polyps are benign in most cases, but any growth in the ear should be investigated by your veterinarian to make sure that they are not cancerous. These polyps might be able to be removed, and this can help with the ear shaking that is being caused by their presence. In some cases, the tumor or polyps will be too big to remove, and you might have to do ongoing care to prevent issues with ear discomfort.
Your vet might send you to a specialist if there are polyps or growths in your dog’s ears. This is not a common problem, but some dog breeds are more prone to these issues. Your vet can advise you about the right treatment methods for this kind of issue that is causing head shaking.
4. Foreign Body in the Ear
If your dog goes outside a lot or runs through tall grass frequently, they can get grass, seed pods, and stickers inside their ears. This can lead to infection and a lot of inflammation. You will almost always need your vet to help you to remove this kind of debris from your dog’s ear. Sometimes this process is quite painful, and your dog might need to be sedated for their ear to be examined and cared for.
You should always consider this problem if you are taking your dog to a place with tall grass or lots of branches and other barriers that they might run through. Foreign bodies in the ear can do a lot of damage to the ear both externally and internally, and you will want to be careful that your dog is not exposed to this risk all the time. If you think that you have been able to remove a foreign body from your dog’s ear successfully, you will still need to make sure that you watch for signs of infection or pain that will still require a trip to the vet.
Head Shaking in Dogs Almost Always Requires Veterinary Attention
Most reasons for a dog shaking their head will require a trip to the vet. In most cases, an infection is involved, or an object might need to be removed from the ear. It might also be too painful for your dog to be examined and treated without sedation. You can try to diagnose your dog’s head shaking at home, but you will almost always need medication from your vet to treat the underlying cause of the issue. In rare cases, head shaking is related to a neurological issue or a brain problem. Your vet can diagnose these more serious conditions as well.
Dog head shaking can rapidly lead to serious secondary infections and hematomas, so you will not want to ignore this problem for long. Your dog will thank you for taking them to the vet for assistance with their discomfort, and you will be glad that your dog will not need an expensive surgery or treatment to resolve the problem causing the head injury.
To talk with your Gray Animal Hospital veterinarian about dog head shaking call (224) 304-0668 or book an appointment online!