Dog Shakes Head: Here Are The Possible Reasons Why They Do So

Sakshi Thakur
Feb 29, 2024 By Sakshi Thakur
Originally Published on Nov 15, 2021
Happy dog shaking off its head.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.0 Min

Dogs are cute, and they are our best friends.

It is the duty of a dog parent to understand every small change in its behavior. So, even if there are small changes like excessive head shakes, you must know the reason behind them.

Head shaking in dogs is a very common phenomenon. Almost every dog shakes its head. They do not have fine fingers or thumbs so dogs shake their heads to relieve themselves of any itching. The itching could be general discomfort or irritation. Head shaking in dogs is an easy way to remove water, dirt, or any foreign body that may have entered a dog's ears. If you see that there is continuous shaking of the head, that may be due to a medical problem.

You must understand why dogs shake their heads. If the shaking is continuous for more than a day, you must go to a veterinarian. They shall check its ears for ear infections if nothing is visible from above. The ears may appear swollen, red, or may become smelly. These are all signs of infections or allergies.

If you enjoy this article, why not also read about dog pacing or dog running away here at Kidadl?

Why do dogs shake their heads?

Dogs shake their heads out of habit. They also do it to clear their ear canal.

A dog normally keeps shaking its head several times a day. However, if you see that the dog is stressed and frantic, it may be an emergency, so you should consult a vet. If there is no bleeding, you can take the earliest veterinary appointment. There could be a chance that an ear infection has occurred. Many dog breeds tend to get allergies.

The most common medical reasons for a dog shaking its head can be allergies on its skin, grass, weed, or an insect stuck in its ear, yeast or bacterial infection, inflammation in the ear canal, aural hematomas, ear mites, and so on. If you see there are blood blisters on the inside of its ear flaps, then there could be aural hematomas that will need surgery.

For an accurate diagnosis, you will have to go to see the vet. They shall run a series of tests to confirm the problem. Treatment for a dog shaking its head shall depend on the problem detected. Often, medication can be used to treat ear infections. However, sometimes surgery needs to be done on an emergency basis for the infection.

Is it normal for dogs to shake their heads?

A dog shaking its head and scratching its ears is very normal. You do not have to worry.

At times there can be grass or any other foreign particle in its ears. This is normal behavior. You need medical advice for your pet's health when you see excessive head shakes. Visit the vet before the health issue becomes serious, as the dog may lose its hearing.

If you notice a dog shaking its head and panting, there may be a problem. You can look for a sign as to why persistent shaking of the head is happening. Pets can get swelling in their ears. This issue in a dog's ears could be due to an ear infection. An animal can also have a yeast discharge that creates irritation in the ears or on the body.

If you see that a dog keeps shaking its head and tilting to one side, there is a possibility of a problem with the dog's ear.

Canine otitis externa happens when a dog's outer ear canal is inflamed. You may notice the following symptoms: head shaking, redness and swollen ears, ear scratching, discharge or odor.

The most common causes of otitis external can be allergies, trapped water, ear mites, and floppy ears. This can happen when a dog has gone swimming in water that was not clean. It can be treated with simple medication in food. However, if you leave it untreated, the problem is sure to get worse and be even more painful for the dog. The damage may be permanent and make your dog go deaf.

There is a chance that your dog may have injured itself during playtime or running. When in the woods or wild, dogs tend to rush through sharp-edged hedges and trees. This may lead to scratches on the body and ears. If you see that a dog has become lazy and is showing signs of pain in its ears, you must take it to a veterinarian for treatment.

Dog enjoying the breezing

What does it mean when a dog shakes its head?

A dog's head shaking is normal if it does not seem stressed about it.

If you notice there is a swelling or inflammation, there can be ear vasculitis. When blood vessels in the ear flap get inflamed, you may notice red or purple spots on the ears, fluid-filled cysts, crusting of the skin, hair loss, itchiness, and pain.

A weak immune system can lead to this painful condition. It can happen as a reaction to some food too. Take advice from the veterinarian about your pet.

What does a dog shaking its head indicate?

Head shaking in dogs is a very common phenomenon.

If you see that there are blood patches or discoloration of the ear, then rush to a vet. Your pet needs immediate medical attention for this serious issue. This problem cannot be solved with food and water. There is a possibility that a dog has got hematomas. This occurs when there is blood collected between the skin and cartilage of the ear. There can be swelling, discolored skin, bleeding, and pain.

The main cause can be aggressive scratching or head shaking. These symptoms can be due to some health problems. It mainly needs surgery to repair and avoid an ear infection. It is said that hematoma is unavoidable. Treating it can save a dog's ear in time.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'Dog shakes head', then why not take a look at 'Fastest dog' or 'Bulldog facts'?

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Written by Sakshi Thakur

Bachelor of Science

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Sakshi ThakurBachelor of Science

Sakshi is a skilled content writer with extensive experience in the education industry. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for helping others, she has developed a reputation for excellence in academic content writing. She has worked with esteemed professionals such as Mr. Kapil Raj, a professor of History of Science at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, further enhancing her knowledge and expertise. Sakshi is well-versed in the latest developments in e-learning and has a deep understanding of how to engage students and make learning fun and accessible. In her spare time, she indulges in her creative passions, including painting, embroidery, and listening to soft music. She also enjoys exploring new cultures and traveling, which helps her broaden her perspectives and inspire her writing. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Science from Panjab University.

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