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Why does my dog keep shaking his head?

Head shaking is a common sight at the beach or after a bath, but if your dog is shaking their head often, it can be a serious concern. Here, our Bartlett vets explain why it shouldn't be taken lightly.


Why is my dog shaking his head?

Head shaking that happens when a dog has been swimming or bathing is completely normal. There may be other times when your dog feels the need to shake his head, and when it's done irregularly, it isn't typically a concern. However, if your dog has started shaking his head somewhat frequently, it's important to figure out what is causing the issue.

Some possible reasons include:

  • Ear mites
  • Bacterial or yeast infections in the ear
  • Fleas or biting flies on tips of ears
  • Grass seed or other foreign objects lodged in the ear canal
  • Allergies
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Excessive earwax build-up
  • Polyps or masses within the early canal
  • Neurologic disorders that cause head tremors

Can I help?

In the case of water in your dog's ear, she will be able to get most of it with a good head shake. Some dogs though, do have persistent issues with water in their ears after bathing or swimming. When bathing your dog, be sure to avoid pouring or spraying water on their head, a damp cloth can be used to clean their face and ears.

For other issues, there can be many sources of irritation for your dog. If the head shaking persists for more than 1-2 days, it's time to make an appointment with your vet.

Should I be concerned?

Yes, in most cases. Many of these conditions can lead to permanent damage to the ear and possibly hearing loss. All of these conditions are causing discomfort and even pain to your dog. You should seek veterinary care to diagnose the cause and prescribe treatment. Not only will this help to reduce the irritation and pain for your dog, but it may also prevent more serious health concerns.

Whatever the underlying issue is, it needs to be treated, but the head shaking itself can lead to other damage. Constant head shaking can rupture blood vessels inside the dog's ear, resulting in aural hematomas that generally require surgery.

If your dog has been shaking their head or you're concerned there might be an issue, please contact our Bartlett veterinary clinic today for more information or to book an appointment.

Dog Shaking Head | Bartlett vet | Hillcrest Animal Hospital

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