Why Does My Dog Keep Shaking His Head? What Should I Do?

As a pet owner, it is a fact that you should be very careful about your pet’s health. Especially if the pet is a dog, you need to take a bit extra care of its health and well-being. Sometimes a small shift in the dog’s behavior makes us believe that the dog is having a problem and adds to our worries. For example, it adds to our worries when we notice the dog shaking its head continuously without a particular reason.

Now the point is, instead of worrying about small things, you need to look for solutions to these problems you see in your dog. For every behavior that your dog performs, there is a particular reason behind it that you should know. It could be a point matter or something very serious that you are unable to figure out.

You need to consider the dog’s behavior properly and visit the vet if you are unsure about the problem your dog is facing. This article will mainly focus on the sudden shaking of your dog’s head, the possible reasons behind it, and other related issues. Look at the article, and you will get most of your doubts cleared that you have for your dog continuously shaking its head.

Why Do Dogs Shake Their Heads Continuously?

Why Do Dogs Shake Their Heads Continuously?

If you notice that your dog performs this head-shaking behavior once in a while, it is entirely normal. The head-shaking behavior usually removes any irritant from the dog’s ears.

And, if you notice your dog behaving weirdly and shaking its head more often; there can be many underlying reasons for this behavior. Let us know some of the most common reasons that are responsible for your dog’s shaking its head continuously:

Ear infection

If you notice that your dog is continuously shaking its head, the common reason for such behavior can be yeast or bacterial infection in your dog’s ears.

If you notice that your dog is shaking its head continuously, you should first check your dog’s ears for any discharge, redness, or inflammation. The most common reason is yeast or bacterial infection in the dog’s ear, for which continued shaking of the head is regarded as a symptom of some serious problem. The dogs’ heads mostly shake to eliminate excessive itching due to inflammation or discharge.

Sometimes the ear infection in your dog is of the internal or middle ear that is hard to notice with the naked eye. In this case, it is tough to find the reason for the shaking of the dog’s head, but still, if you are doubtful that your dog might have this problem with an ear infection, you can take it to the vet for an ear infection treatment.

If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, you should take your dog to the veterinarian and tell him about the condition thoroughly. The veterinarian will clean your dog’s ear with a medicated cleanser and then check the dog’s ear for any infection by performing certain tests. In this case, the vet will prescribe some medicated cleanser or medications for ear infections depending upon your dog’s condition.

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Allergies

Allergies

There can be many reasons for your dog to have different allergies. Just like humans, dogs are also prone to many allergies. It can be pollen grains, dust, mites, food, etc. and these allergies often result in infections in the dog’s ears.

This ear infection due to allergies causes your dog to either scratch its ear or shake its head continuously.

If you suspect that your dog is allergic to food, you need to try a special diet for your dog; and if you think there is something else that could be the cause of your dog’s allergy, you need to get rid of the thing for your dog.

If you suspect your dog has an environmental allergy or other allergies, then take your dog to the vet. The vet will perform skin tests or specific blood tests to determine the reason for your dog’s allergies.

The solution to getting rid of inflammation in your dog’s ears is to visit the vet. The vet will clean the dog’s ears with a cleanser and then apply the antihistamine or anti-inflammatory medication or whatever the dog’s vet prefers for the dog.

The best way to treat allergy-related discomfort or shaking of the head in your dog is by removing all those things from the dog’s environment that are responsible for allergies in your dog.

Injury, chemical exposure, or head trauma

If there has been any injury to your dog’s head recently, it can cause discomfort to your dog, and to get rid of the same, the dog will shake its head continuously. Also, if your dog has inner ear infections, balance issues, vestibular syndrome, or has experienced a stroke, these problems of excessive head shaking can happen in your dog.

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Toxins consumed by your dog can affect your dog’s nervous system and can cause your dog to behave abnormally. Also, if you notice other weird problems like temporary blindness in your dog, chemicals and toxins should be to blame.

It is important to go and see the veterinarian as minor injuries can go away on their own. Still, it will take time for other major injuries, and the head shaking in dogs will go away gradually with time. But it becomes very difficult to find a solution to your dog’s head shaking if you don’t know the reason and don’t run tests on your dog for this.

If you suspect your dog has been exposed to toxins or chemicals, you should immediately visit the veterinarian and explain the situation. Or you can call for help from the animal poison control center and follow their instructions.

Bonus Read: Dogs Eyes Rolling Back? Why This Is Happening And How To Stop It?

Ear mite infestations

Ear mite infestations

Ear mite infestations in adult dogs are less common than ear infections, but they can still cause your dog to shake its head constantly.

Mostly, the symptoms of ear mite infestations are the same as those of ear infections in dogs. There can be swelling, irritation, and inflammation in your dog’s ears; to relieve it, your dog may keep shaking its head continuously.

If you think your dog’s symptoms are from that ear mite infestation, you should immediately take your dog to the veterinarian for help.

In the case of ear mite infestations, your dog’s veterinarian will flush out your dog’s ear. To tackle secondary infections, the dog’s vet will prescribe dog ear medications.

Also, to kill mites, the dog’s vet will prescribe your dog flea and tick treatment. Make sure your dog has the proper treatment to get well soon.

Possible treatments for ear mite infestations in your dog include:

  • Ivermectin injection
  • Simparica
  • Topical ointment
  • Revolution
  • Bravecto
  • Advantage Multi

A foreign object gets lodged in your dog’s ear

Sometimes foreign objects may lodge in your dog’s ear, and this foreign object can cause inflammation or swelling in your dog’s ears.

The dog will try to eliminate this inflammation or swelling by shaking or continuously pawing on the dog’s ears.

However, this continuous shaking or pawing can cause a rupture of blood vessels in your dog’s ears, which can cause an aural hematoma.

Tumors or polyps (growth) in your dog’s ears

Head shaking is a common symptom in dogs with ear tumors or ear growths. Tumors in your dog’s ears can be accompanied by inflamed, itchy, and painful ears. Also, you may notice your dog having persistent, strong-smelling ear discharge, ear scratching, etc.

Suppose the growth of tumors is in your dog’s inner or middle ear, then this will surely be accompanied by excessive head shaking. In that case, you will notice that your dog is experiencing loss of balance and coordination, head tilting, facial paralysis, darting of eyes back and forth, loss of hearing, circling, and other neurological symptoms.

Bonus Read: Dog Twitching And Flinching: Complete Facts About Involuntary Movement In Dogs

Ear Vasculitis

The inflammation of blood vessels in your dog’s pinna or ear flap is known as ear vasculitis. Though any dog can suffer from Ear Vasculitis, certain dog breeds like Dachshunds, Shetland Sheepdogs, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Collies are more prone to having this ear condition.

Immune disease, a bad drug or vaccine interaction, food allergies, fly bites, frostbites, tick-borne illness, or other environmental factors can cause ear vasculitis in your dog.

In this condition, you can notice skin ulcers, purple or red dots on the skin, leg swelling, fluid-filled blisters under the skin, and other symptoms. Also, in this condition, you may notice the formation of lesions that can bleed and cause your dog to shake its head uncontrollably.

A dog having Ear Vasculitis needs an immediate appointment with the dog’s veterinarian, and the treatment can include antibiotics if your dog has this problem due to a bacterial infection. If the reason for this condition is allergies, then the lifestyle change is what the vet suggests for your dog.

Suppose the culprit for this condition of ear vasculitis is an immune disease. In that case, the vet will prefer to give your dog medications to suppress the immune system causing the immune response resulting in the reactions.

Water

If you notice that your dog is continuously shaking its head after having a bath or after swimming, then the possible reason could be that your dog’s ear has water in it.

You can use cotton balls to ensure no water enters your dog’s ear. Also, when you make your dog bathe, be careful that you do not directly add the water to your dog’s head. Instead of directly adding the water to your dog’s head, you can use a damp water cloth to clean the face and head of your dog.

If your dog is not comfortable having cotton balls in its ears during a bath or swimming, then visit the vet to find out what product you can use to clean your dog’s ears after swimming.

The best thing to do while dealing with your pets in water is to prevent the water from entering the dog’s ears. The water entering a dog’s ears can cause many ear infections in your dog, and you need to ensure that your dog’s ears are dry all the time.

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If your dog, by chance, ends up with an ear infection due to water clogging its ears, you should immediately consult the vet about this problem. The vet will check if there is any fungal or bacterial infection due to water clogging in the dog’s ears and then decide the treatment accordingly.

Cerebellar hypoplasia

Cerebellar hypoplasia

 A canine version of cerebral palsy is what we generally refer to as cerebellar hypoplasia. Cerebellar hypoplasia is a condition that doesn’t allow parts of a dog’s brain to develop completely, causing problems in your dog. The cerebellum of the brain is mainly responsible for controlling motor skills in both humans and animals.

The symptoms of cerebellar hypoplasia can range from mild to severe, and here are some symptoms of cerebellar hypoplasia that you can look for in your dog:

  • Head bobbing
  • wide stance
  • Tremors
  • Falling over
  • Ataxia
  • Dysmetria

The origin of this condition can be either infectious or genetic, but it is always congenital as the puppy starts showing signs once he attempts to walk at nearly a six-week-old puppy.

These symptoms and the disease are very common in some dog breeds, such as Boston Terriers, Bull Terriers, Chow Chows, and Airedales.

Dogs with this condition are not curable but can lead a normal lifestyle. This condition does not worsen over time, and the dog can have a quality life if it lives with the right family.

Hematomas

The shaking of the head itself causes the hematoma condition in your dog. If you do not control the continuous head shaking in your dog, it can lead to the formation of blood blisters, which are known as hematomas.

If the excess shaking is not controlled and the ear flaps keep striking against your dog’s skull, it can rupture blood vessels in the pinna of the dog’s ear.

This condition can further lead to shaking off your dog’s head, which can further worsen the condition of hematomas in your dog and it forms a dangerous cycle.

While it is possible to heal hematomas, it can cause your dog weeks of discomfort to heal properly. To completely heal the condition of hematomas in your dog, you need to treat the underlying cause of the same unless it keeps repeating.

The important thing to do is to treat the shaking of your dog’s head in its early stages and not let it turn worse into the condition of hematomas. Treating the underlying cause of head shaking early will not cause your dog much discomfort.

You can take your dog to the veterinarian for treatment of hematomas, and the first thing the vet will do is drain the hematoma with a needle. Instead of this, your dog’s vet can also move on to surgical treatment for the same.

To prevent causing your dog hematomas further, the vet will bandage your dog’s ear flap so that the flap doesn’t hit the dog’s ears and cause more trouble for your dog.

To prevent your dog from scratching its ears and getting into further trouble, the dog’s vet will give your dog an Elizabeth collar.

Otitis

Otitis

Otitis is the inflammation of the dog’s external ear canal that can be caused by several things, including grass awns, dust mites, wax, etc. But, most commonly, otitis results from an allergy in your dog caused by various allergens.

The inflammation of the dog’s ear canal, or otitis, can cause bacteria and yeast to grow in your dog’s ear canal, which can further be the reason for secondary ear infections.

If your dog has otitis externa, you will notice your dog’s ears become inflamed, swollen, and red. You will also notice that your dog’s ears will also become extremely sensitive to touch. When you massage your dog’s ears, your dog will feel pain or relief. You may also notice a very bad odor coming from your dog’s ears due to this condition.

If your dog has this condition, you need to take your dog to the veterinarian and get proper treatment for your pet. The treatment for otitis may include antifungal, antibacterial, anti-yeast, and antiseptics after properly cleansing your dog’s ears.

Suppose there is swelling in your dog’s ears due to this condition. In that case, the vet will suggest medications to reduce swelling and pain, along with oral antibiotics or antifungal medications for your dog.

Once you can treat the inflammation or otitis of your dog’s ears, you need to be careful in the future by cleaning your dog’s ears often to reduce the risk of this disease returning.

If you fail to treat this problem in your dog, it may lead to deafness, further ear infections, or illness in your dog.

The canine distemper virus causes head shaking

The canine distemper virus is highly contagious in unvaccinated dogs. In addition, it is often regarded as a fatal virus that affects your dog’s gastrointestinal and nervous systems, causing severe illness.

Myoclonus is a common sign of canine distemper virus that mostly involves the jerking of one muscle or a group of muscles of the limb or head in dogs. Thus, it causes severe shaking of the head in your dog.

Some common signs of canine distemper in progression include:

  • Fever and lethargy
  • Circling and head tilt
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, and a loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Thick yellow nasal and ocular discharge
  • Seizures and muscle twitches

The canine distemper virus spreads in dogs almost as fast as the common cold in humans. The treatment for this focuses primarily on preventing dehydration and secondary infection. Along with symptoms, the cure and survival rate mainly depends upon how strong the dog’s immune system is.

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What Are The Serious Conditions Related To Head Shaking In Your Dog?

Besides the above-mentioned reasons, some serious reasons cause your dog to shake its head continuously.

The common reasons for your dog’s head shaking continuously can be some foreign objects lodged in your dog’s ear, inflammation, or neurological disorders that cause tremors that are often misunderstood as shaking of the dog’s head.

If you notice that your dog has ear infections continuously after a short period, you and your dog’s vet need to find the root cause. The root causes of these infections can be hypothyroidism, anatomical abnormalities, allergies, etc.

It is not only necessary to find out the reason for the continuous head shaking in your dog, but treatment is also important. It can be due to some serious illness or disorder, but if you do not give treatment to your dog to treat this problem early, excessive head shaking can lead to ruptured blood vessels in your dog’s ears.

Aural hematomas caused due to excessive head shaking can lead to your dog having to have surgery. So, as much as possible, you should take measures to avoid your dog shaking its head vigorously.

Why Is Early Diagnosis Of Head Shaking In Your Dog important?

Why Is Early Diagnosis Of Head Shaking In Your Dog important?

Early diagnosis of head shaking in your dog and visiting the vet at an early stage in the case of this condition is extremely important. Most of the conditions referred to above are responsible for causing pain and discomfort to your dog for a long time.

If you take your dog to the vet in the early stages, you can not only help your dog to get comfort from this pain and irritation, but it will also help to reduce the risk of some serious medical issues.

It is important to find the reason for the head shaking in your dog immediately so that treatment can be provided as soon as possible and your dog gets relief. Proper diagnosis and treatment are both important as it could be a red flag that signifies a serious issue in your dog.

Continuous head shaking can also cause ear vessel rupture, resulting in aural hematomas in your dog that may require surgical intervention for proper treatment.

If your dog’s continuous head shaking is an ear infection, you should know that it is impossible to treat the head shaking condition without treating the root cause, which is an ear infection. All types of ear infections need proper veterinarian treatment. Only then will it be possible to treat the dog’s issues like continuous head shaking.

To treat an ear infection in your dog – it is important to determine the cause and severity of the infection in your dog and assess the integrity of the eardrum.

To treat ear infections, you should not consider the treatment at home without proper vet advice. For example, if there is a large amount of debris inside your dog’s ears that is causing ear infections in your dog, then you should consider the vet only for ear cleaning using the cleanser.

If your dog’s eardrum has any tears or any injury, certain medications or cleansers can adversely affect your dog’s middle or inner ear. This adverse effect can further cause serious health hazards to your dog and lead to permanent damage to the dog’s ears or temporary or permanent hearing loss.

What To Do If The Dog Continuously Shakes Its Head And You Get Worried?

What To Do If The Dog Continuously Shakes Its Head And You Get Worried?

If you notice that your dog is shaking its head continuously, the best advice for you is to involve the dog’s vet or any other medical expert in this. Many conditions, either neurological or others, may have the same symptoms. Still, they vary greatly when it comes to their treatment, so you can’t decide on the treatment at home. Only a medical expert will be able to help you after doing a proper checkup on your dog.

Schedule an appointment with your dog’s vet immediately if you notice any such weird behavior in your dog, like continuous shaking of the head. As it may seem normal to us, there can be many underlying serious issues that are causing it. Therefore, involving a vet is always preferable.

Conclusion

There could be several causes for your dog’s strange behavior and constant shaking of its head; it could be as simple as water getting into its ear or as serious as a neurological problem.

In either case, you should be the one taking the dog to the vet immediately if you notice a sudden change in behavior in your dog or see your dog shaking its head continuously. However, suppose it is an emergency, and your vet is not available. In that case, you can call the vet for a temporary solution or reference from any other vet, as taking care of your dog in any instance is important.