Are you worried about your dog acting strangely, like shaking their head a lot? Our vets at Santa Clarita discuss when you should be concerned and what to do in this post.
Why do dogs shake their heads?
If your dog keeps shaking their head, this might be a perfectly normal behavior for your canine friend - if it only happens infrequently.
Dogs may use headshaking as an effective way to expel irritants from their ears.
When should I be concerned about my dog's head shaking?
If your dog occasionally shakes their head briefly, there's probably no need to worry. But if your dog keeps shaking their head a lot, you likely have nothing to be concerned about. However, if your dog is shaking their head a lot and doing it persistently and vigorously, it's best to visit your vet for a checkup.
Common Reasons Dogs Shake Their Heads
Some of the most common reasons for head shaking in dogs can be easily treated by your veterinarian once diagnosed. That said, if left untreated, ear conditions can quickly develop into more serious problems. Common causes of head shaking include:
Yeast & Bacterial Infections in the Ear
Ear infections are a common health issue in dogs that can me them skaes their heads. These infections can cause itching and produce a significant amount of inflammation and discharge, all of which will trigger a dog to shake her head. To check if your dog has an infection, lift up your dog's ear flap - do you see redness, discharge, or swelling? If so, an infection is likely. Ear mite infestations can cause similar symptoms, but these are not as common as yeast or bacterial infections in dogs (particularly in adult dogs).
Remember that infections may happen deep in a dog's ear, so an infection may still be present even if you don't see obvious signs of one.
Water in the Ears
This can easily be prevented by placing cotton balls (or, for small breeds, half a cotton ball) in your canine companion's ears before swimming or bathing. Avoid dumping or spraying water directly onto your dog's head while bathing. Instead, bathe the body from the neck down and wipe down her ears and face with a damp washcloth.
After swimming, consider using a during solution recommended by your veterinarian, you can also try using an ear band.
Allergies Causing Itchiness in the Ear
Dogs can sometimes shake their heads due to allergies, which can be caused by food or environmental factors like mold, pollen, dust, and more. Allergy symptoms in dogs often include things like hair loss, itchy skin, ear and skin infections, head shaking, scratching ears, rubbing their face, or chewing their paws.
To find out if your dog has a food allergy, your vet might recommend a special diet. This diet includes a single carbohydrate like potatoes or rice, along with a protein source your dog hasn't had before, like venison or duck, or a protein that's been broken down into tiny, non-allergenic pieces. Your dog needs to eat only this food for a month or two. If the symptoms improve or go away during this time, it's likely a food allergy.
Serious Conditions Associated with Head Shaking
Many things can make dogs shake their heads a lot. These include diseases, objects stuck in their ears, or problems with their nerves. If your dog often gets ear infections, you should ask a vet to find out why. It could be due to how their ears are built, low thyroid levels, allergies, or something else.
Finding out why your dog shakes its head a lot is important for their health. It could signal a serious issue. If your dog shakes its head too hard or too often, it can harm their ears. This can lead to swollen ear flaps, which may need surgery. So, preventing too much head shaking is better than treating it later.
What to Do if Your Dog is Shaking Their Head
Head shaking can be caused by or lead to minor or severe health issues in dogs.
It's key for your vet to diagnose the specific cause of your dog's head shaking early so the issue can be treated before it becomes a more serious problem.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.