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Why Does My Dog Shake His Head?

Why Does My Dog Shake His Head?

A dog’s head shaking is a sign of many different things. It can be a sign of excitement, stress, or it may also be a sign of neurological issues.

If you notice your dog shaking his head often, it is important to get them checked out by a vet to rule out any serious health problems that could be causing this behavior.

One of the most common reasons for head shaking in dogs is an ear infection.


Ear infections are usually caused by bacteria, yeast, or parasites. Dogs shake their heads to scratch the itchy ears and relieve some of the discomforts.


Their ear canals are shaped differently from ours, so they have a hard time scratching their own ears. The middle and inner ear also contains many small bones that can be broken by head shaking or other trauma, which causes pain and inflammation.


This article will explore the most common reasons why dogs shake their heads and what you can do to help your dog feel better. You'll also learn how to know if your dog needs medical attention and how to prevent this problem from happening in the future.



  • Section 1: Why does my dog shake his head?
  • Section 2: Common causes of a head shake in dogs
  • Section 3: How do I know if my dog needs medical attention?
  • Section 4: What can I do to help my dog's head shaking?
  • Section 5: How do I fix my dogs shaking head?
  • Section 6: Medical Treatment for a Head Shake in Dogs



Why does my dog shake his head?


1. An ear infection


Bacteria and parasites can grow in the ears, which is why they are one of the main reasons why your dog is itching their ears. You may also notice a discharge coming from their ears.


One of the best ways to prevent ear infections in dogs is to get your dog their yearly vaccination for heartworm. Dogs that are infected with heartworms will shake their heads to relieve the discomfort of their heartworms.


Some other causes of ear infections in dogs are:


  1. Antibiotics
  2. Cleaning and clipping the ears
  3. Deodorizing the ears


These do not need antibiotics and will not make your dog shake his head.


2. A cut or injury


Some pets do experience ear infections or other infections, but will not always show them.


Common causes of a head shake in dogs


Diagnosis for a head shake


Dogs shaking their heads is a pretty easy diagnosis to make. Just look at their head to see if they are shaking it. If your dog is shaking his head a lot and you can see the top of their head, chances are they have a problem.


When your vet examines your dog, they will likely check for possible infections, including:


  1. Colic
  2. Celiac disease
  3. Coccidioidomycosis (Canine Fibromyalgia)
  4. Parvovirus
  5. Lupus


Teeth: Some breeds of dogs like Shih Tzu, Cairn terrier and Lhasa apso are prone to having gum disease.


Some breeds of dogs like Shih Tzu, Cairn terrier and Lhasa apso are prone to having gum disease.


Thyroid problems: Lhasas are prone to thyroid problems.



How do I know if my dog needs medical attention?


Before you bring your dog to the vet, here are a few important factors to consider:


Is your dog showing signs of pain?


Look for signs of pain, such as excessive ear shaking, an unresponsive mouth, yawning, and staring up at you instead of at the person or object that is causing the pain.


Can your dog be distracted from whatever caused the head shaking?


If your dog is able to follow your commands or focus on the person and object he's trying to get his attention on, then it’s a good sign that he’s in pain. If you can’t get him to focus on you, then it could be a sign of something wrong.


What can I do to help my dog's head shaking?


1. Dogs Shaking Their Head to Wriggle Out That Tick?


If your dog is licking his head a lot or pulling on his ear, you may notice that a few hairs are missing or have curled back up. If you scratch your dog’s ear, they may shake their head as a way to relieve themselves of all that itchiness.


2. Is My Dog Wriggling His Jaw When I Hold Him?


If you hold your dog, it may be an indicator that they are feeling pain. Many times a dog will wiggle their jaw when you hold them or pick them up to avoid you touching or irritating the sore area.


If you can’t figure out the problem, it might be best to schedule a visit with a veterinarian to be sure.


How do I fix my dogs shaking head?


If your dog shakes their head for no particular reason, there's not much you can do. The dog might need a simple adjustment or a prescription to fix an ear infection.


If your dog has neurological issues, a vet will need to perform a specific type of physical therapy to get his balance and problem-solving skills back. Some good options include:


Cone of Balance: In simple terms, this is a padded round piece of plastic that your dog has to keep moving and moving.


By learning to turn and flex their neck in several directions, this will help the dog to regain movement in his neck and head.


Medical Treatment for a Head Shake in Dogs


The first step is to get your dog checked out by a veterinarian. The good news is that a dog’s head shaking is generally an indication of an ear infection. The bad news is that a dog’s head shaking could be an early symptom of a more serious condition.


Diagnosis of a Spinal Meningitis


A dog’s head shaking could be the first sign of a serious and sometimes fatal illness called spinal meningitis. This is a bacterial disease that can spread to the brain.


A puppy that is spayed or neutered is a much higher risk for this illness than a non-spayed dog. This condition is often fatal if the bacteria reach the brain, but not always.

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