When Head Shaking Becomes Concerning
While the occasional head shake is normal dog behavior, excessive and repetitive head shaking or tilting can indicate your dog is struggling with an unpleasant condition. Determining what’s causing your pup distress is key to relieving their discomfort. Let’s explore some reasons for head shaking and how to help.
Inside the ear canal, bacteria, yeast, allergies, hair growth, foreign bodies or even tiny parasites can cause maddening itchiness, irritation, and inflammation for dogs. Vigorous head shaking is a hallmark sign of ear troubles. Redness, odor and discharge often accompany head shaking with ear infections.
Environmental allergies to pollen, mold, dust mites and chemicals provoke systemic itching and secondary ear issues. Dogs shake their heads trying in vain to relieve the irritation. Recurring ear and skin infections are clues to underlying allergies.
Grass seeds, tiny twigs, foxtails, debris or even insects can get trapped in a dog’s ears and cause violent head shaking. Head shaking becomes their attempt to dislodge the foreign object. Foreign items deep in the ear canal require sedation for safe veterinary removal. If you suspect a foreign object in your dog’s ear, it is crucial to seek veterinary assistance to safely remove it and prevent further complications.
While less common, head tilting or shaking can also derive from inner ear problems, brain disease, injuries or disorders like vestibular disease. Diagnostic testing like MRIs may be needed.
In some cases, head shaking may be a symptom of vestibular disease, an inner ear disorder affecting a dog’s balance and coordination. Dogs with vestibular disease may exhibit other signs, such as loss of balance, dizziness, incoordination, and abnormal eye movements. If you suspect your dog may be suffering from vestibular disease, immediate veterinary evaluation is necessary for proper diagnosis and management.
Surprisingly, dental issues can sometimes contribute to head shaking in dogs. Pain or discomfort associated with dental problems can radiate to the ears, leading to head shaking as a response. Regular dental care, including professional cleanings and routine check-ups, can help prevent or address dental issues that may be causing this behavior.
Providing Relief from Discomfort
Gently inspect your dog’s ears and schedule a veterinary exam if shaking persists. Proper diagnosis leads to targeted treatment, which may include flushing, medications, allergy management and surgery for stubborn cases. Alleviating the underlying trigger provides comfort and restores your dog’s happy, shake-free days.
While this article provides valuable insights into potential causes of head shaking in dogs, it is important to remember that each dog is unique, and accurate diagnosis requires professional veterinary guidance. If your dog continues to exhibit head shaking or displays other concerning symptoms, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian.