10 Reasons Why Your Dog Keeps Shaking His Head
How often do you see your dog shaking its head? Is it a way of telling you that something’s wrong? It could be, but it might also be related to an allergy or infection, the result of normal shedding, or even stress, which can manifest in different ways in dogs. A trip to the vet can help you get the answers you need. Until then, here are some steps you can take to help stop your dog from shaking its head as well as some tips on how to avoid head shaking in the first place.
Even the most dog-obsessed pet owners may have overlooked some of the most common, everyday dog habits that have actual meaning behind them. For example, did you know that your dog shaking his head can be a sign that he’s anxious? Or that he might be trying to tell you something else?
Here are 10 reasons why your dog keeps shaking his head to help you better understand this behavior and take note if it seems to be abnormal.
One of many reasons dogs shake their heads is that they’re dehydrated. While many people believe that shaking one’s head means your dog has a nasty ear infection, it could also mean he’s just thirsty and lacking water. To prevent dehydration, make sure you give your pup plenty of freshwater throughout the day to keep him hydrated and healthy. You can also check with your vet to determine underlying causes for frequent head-shaking, such as an ear infection.
It is common for dogs to shake their heads because of allergies. The typical allergic reaction causes a buildup of allergens in your dog’s eyes, irritating. These allergens can be dust and pollen to food dyes and preservatives. If you think your dog might have allergies, it’s essential to try and figure out what he is allergic to and minimize contact with potential allergens.
Some veterinarians will recommend eye drops for dogs with allergies to relieve irritation; if that isn’t helping after a few weeks, you may want to consider changing up his diet or adding an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl.
3) Fungus In The Ears
The most common reason a dog shakes his head is that he has a little fungus in his ears. (Think about how itchy your ears get when you get a bit of ear wax in them.) This may or may not lead to an infection, so if you see your dog shaking his head often and scratching at his ears, take him to see your vet.
The doctor will likely need to clean out whatever’s in there and possibly put in some medication. That said, don’t panic if your vet finds something: There are lots of remedies for ear infections these days.
4) A Foreign Object In The Ear
If your dog is shaking his head and rubbing his ears, you should check to see if he has something stuck in his ear. Sometimes, minor bugs, such as fleas, ticks, or flies can crawl into your dog’s ear canal.
Additionally, debris from a walk outside or even a food crumb could have made its way into your pet’s ear. For these reasons (and others), always check your dog’s ears after grooming him or walking him outdoors. If an object is present in your pet’s ear (even if you cannot feel it), you should immediately take him to a veterinarian.
5) Painful Impact To The Head
If your dog is shaking his head or scratching at his ears, you may be looking at a minor problem or a potentially serious situation. This type of behavior can mean that your dog has impacted earwax, an ear infection, mites in his ears, or other problems.
Each type of pain or discomfort requires its solution and quick action. For example, you wouldn’t treat a case of mites with antibiotics unless it was clear that was what caused your pet’s head-shaking behavior. Identifying what is causing your pup’s actions will allow you to treat him accordingly and get rid of any issues he has quickly.
6) Ticks Or Mites
If your dog is shaking his head because of ticks or mites, he will likely be scratching and biting at his ears or face. You may even see a brown residue on his fur where he has scratched. If there are parasites on your dog, you will want to treat them immediately; many vets recommend an injection as well as an oral medication for good measure.
7) Parasites In The Mouth Or Skin
Parasites are responsible for many different types of health problems in dogs, from ear infections to immune-related illnesses. If your dog is shaking his head frequently, it may be due to a parasite. Numerous parasites can be found in your pet’s mouth or on his skin—and all of them can cause him distress and discomfort.
Once you get to the root of what’s causing your dog’s behavior, you can work with your vet to treat and solve it. Parasites aren’t only found outside: Fleas, ticks, and mites also live in carpets, couches, and clothing.
8) Stress And Anxiety
Many dogs shake their heads to relieve stress or anxiety. Small changes in a dog’s life, like a new family member, neighborhood animals, and even small children, can trigger stress-related head shaking.
If your pup is constantly shaking his head and you haven’t made any recent changes to his routine, you may want to schedule an appointment with your vet so he can get checked out. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
9) Hot Weather Can Cause It Too!
One reason that your dog keeps shaking his head could be due to weather conditions. All dogs are sensitive to temperature. Since their body temperature runs higher than humans, they feel colder in cold weather and warmer in hot weather. In some cases, extreme weather can lead to Fading Puppy Syndrome, a condition marked by periods of decreased activity, sleeping more often, and a noticeable change in appetite.
For example, if you take your dog out for a walk during warm summer days and then leave him alone with no food or water while temperatures climb over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, he may end up becoming dehydrated or overheated if he’s left outside for an extended period.
10) Fleas – Finally, An External Cause!
Fleas can cause a lot of itchiness and discomfort in your dog, leading to frequent head shaking. Because it’s an external factor that can be taken care of relatively quickly, fleas are likely at fault for your dog’s shakey-head syndrome. There is one caveat: If other pets in your household haven’t been treated for fleas, they might be carrying them over to your dog and irritating his skin further. But if there are no other pets on the premises, treat him, and you should find that his head-shaking goes away.
How to Stop Your Dog from Shaking its Head
Most Common Treatments
When dogs shake their heads, it’s usually a sign of pain or irritation—think bug bites, skin irritations, food allergies, and more.
Also, their head-shaking habit tends to go away on its own within a week or two. Dogs are pretty resilient animals; they adapt quickly and tend not to dwell on problems for too long. So in most cases, it’s best to wait things out and see if your dog shakes his headless over time.
What Not To Do
Don’t Panic! No. Don’t panic. He might look like he’s in pain or uncomfortable (and chances are, it hurts), but dogs often shake their heads because they have an itch on their ear or something else is bothering them. Keep calm and read on for ways to stop your dog from shaking his head.
Why This Is Not Common Knowledge
If your dog is shaking his head, it could be a sign of a severe health problem. However, most dogs with ear problems shake their heads when they’re not in pain. As strange as it sounds, ear infections cause most of these symptoms. Dogs shake their heads to try and dislodge any irritants that may have found their way into their ears (such as insects or foreign debris).
Some dogs also use head shaking to dry out their ears if they go swimming without checking for buildup. So if your dog shakes his head but doesn’t appear in pain, don’t assume he’s fine—take him to your vet for a checkup.
Home Remedy For Dogs Who Shake Their Heads
If your dog keeps shaking his head, it’s probably because he has an ear infection. Ear infections are easily preventable and easily cured if caught early. A good rule of thumb is that any time you notice a red, inflamed ear canal on one side, have him checked out.
The earlier you get to an ear infection before it gets bad enough that your pet is constantly shaking his head or scratching at his ears, the easier and less painful recovery will be for him. If you notice that your dog frequently shakes his head or tilts it to one side while he’s asleep (this can happen when dogs sleep since they often rest their heads on something hard), he could be showing signs of an infection in one or both ears.
Professional Advice For Dogs Who Shake Their Heads
Two Common Reasons Why Dogs Shake Their Heads A Lot There are a few reasons why your dog may suddenly start shaking his head. The most common reason is that your dog has come into contact with an irritant of some kind, like water or chemicals.
Another likely culprit is hair. If you use a grooming brush on your dog, your dog’s sensitive skin may cause them to shake their heads a lot. And if you recently got a haircut for yourself or trimmed your dog’s fur by mistake, they may be shaking their heads because they aren’t used to having shorter hair than usual and don’t know how to react.
Allergies, ear infections, parasites (like fleas or ticks), trauma, and skin conditions can lead to head shaking. It could be a sign of pain or neurological problems in some cases. If your dog shakes his head often, but there’s no physical cause that you can see, such as an injury or irritation of his ears, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your vet just in case. It might not be anything serious—just a simple allergy, for example—but better safe than sorry!