Several dog behaviors are completely normal; however, they will appear strange to new dog owners, and veteran dog owners have become used to these behaviors. As a dog owner, you need to know that dogs will display different behaviors inherited from their ancestors in the wild. Sometimes, these behaviors are essential, and they will display them.
Your dog shakes its head for a number of reasons, including ear infections (bacterial or yeast), allergies, foreign objects, otitis externa, ear damage, ear inflammation or vasculitis, ear hematomas, ear blockage, chemical exposure, head trauma, presence of parasites in the ear, and ear polyps.
Since dogs do not have thumbs and fingers, they cannot relieve itchiness, discomfort, or irritation like humans; instead, they shake their heads vigorously. This is the most effective way they can get rid of dirt, water, and insects from their ear canal.
Why Does My Dog Keep Shaking His Head?
Head shaking is a common and normal behavior in dogs to get rid of unwanted irritants in the ear and relieve comfort. Just like humans, whenever there is something trapped inside our ear, we know how uncomfortable it could make us feel. The same thing happens to dogs too.
Dog’s ears anatomy is structured in such a way that debris could easily enter. So, when this happens, a dog could begin to shake its head to get rid of whatever is inside, making it feel uncomfortable.
Aside from this, there are other reasons which could also make a dog keep shaking its head. Perhaps you notice your dog shaking its head after bathing; it could be a way of getting rid of the water in its ear. Occasional shaking of the head is usually not something to be worried about.
However, when the shaking becomes excessive without stopping, it could indicate an infection, ear issues, or other problems. Some common reasons why dogs shake their heads will be considered below.
If your dog has been shaking its head excessively lately, it could likely be that it has an ear infection. The infection could either be from bacteria or yeast infection. Regardless of the type of infection, it often causes discharge, itchiness, and inflammation in a dog’s ear.
Common symptoms to confirm a dog has infections include redness and swelling of the ear accompanied by a discharge, itchiness, and a foul odor. Normally, a dog’s ear infection only occurs when the dog is exposed to certain things or other health issues.
Some common causes of infections include ear mites, cancers, excessive moisture, and trauma in the dog’s ear. So, whenever you notice your dog shaking its head excessively, ensure you take it to a vet. Sometimes, the infection might be deep inside its ear and not manifest, so a vet is in the best position to diagnose and treat the dog.
This is another common reason that will cause your dog to shake its head nonstop. Similar to humans, dogs are also allergic to certain things. Contacting their allergens could make a dog develop itchy skin, hair loss, chewing or biting its skin, and shaking its head.
Allergies in dogs could be gotten from things like certain food ingredients, pollen, and dust mites. So, if you notice your dog always shaking its head whenever it feeds on a certain food or when you take it out on a walk, it could indicate either food or environmental allergy.
In cases like this, perhaps you just introduced a new ingredient to your dog’s meal; you need to stop adding that ingredient to your dog’s meal. However, if you are unsure of the allergen, you can speak to a veterinarian.
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When a foreign object like grass seeds or even tiny insects gets stuck in a dog’s ear, it could lead to swelling, inflammation, and sometimes discharge of blood from the dog’s ear. Foreign objects could also cause the dog to feel comfortable. So, to get the object out, a dog could begin to shake its head excessively.
It is important to ensure that the environment where the dog sleeps, eats, and plays around remains clean all the time to prevent foreign objects from getting into its ear. The moment you notice this, you could inform a vet to help examine your dog’s ear for foreign objects or things causing discomfort in its ear.
This health condition often causes a dog’s outer ear canal to become inflamed. The inflammation implies that it gives room for bacteria and yeast to develop in the ear canal, leading to infections. Factors such as ear mites, moisture in the ear, and even allergies are the common causes of otitis.
Common symptoms of otitis include discharge, redness, swelling, and foul odors coming from the dog’s ear, often accompanied by head shaking. If this condition is not treated timely, the inflammation of the dog’s ear could cause some serious damage to your dog’s ear. So, it is often advised to take your dog to a vet if you suspect it is suffering from this condition.
Certain injuries could cause discomfort in a dog’s ear, which could make it begin to shake its head to feel better. If your dog was recently injured and you begin to notice it sometimes, finding it difficult to hear you, acting lethargic, or showing some signs of ear pains, then its ear might have been affected. In cases like that, ensure you consult your vet to have the dog examined.
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Dog Shaking Head And Panting
On rare occasions, you might see your dog shaking its head and panting; usually, this is not a good sign. For the dog to be shaking its head means it has an issue with its ear; for it to pant means, it is in pain. Dogs pant for majorly two reasons, to cool down and because it is in pain.
So, if your dog is shaking its head and panting, that means it has a serious ear infection and is in serious pain. It would be best if you took it to a veterinarian immediately to identify the cause of the issue and provide adequate treatment for the dog. Remember, the dog is shaking its head, and that is an essential part of its body.
Treatment For Dog Shaking Head
If you notice that your dog is shaking its head, you should not panic; it could be dislodging a foreign body like water out. However, if it becomes frequent, here are some steps to take;
First, it is important that you observe the dog and try to figure out the reason it is shaking its head. If the dog recently had a bath or went swimming, you can be sure it is trying to remove the water in its ears. Next, examine the external part of the dog’s ear to identify swellings, inflammation, or foreign objects.
If you spot any of the following, you should immediately take the dog to a veterinarian. The vet will prescribe any of these treatments; ear flush/wash, anti-inflammatory or antibiotics tablets, ear mite treatment, anesthetic to clean the ear canal, medications, ear drop, dietary changes, and on rare occasions, surgery.
There is nothing to worry about with your dog shaking its head occasionally; however, you should be concerned if it becomes a frequent behavior. It would help if you tried to find out the cause and look out for signs indicating a medical issue. If your dog has swollen, red, or smelly ears, take it to a veterinarian right away.
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Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.