What It Means If Your Dog Frequently Shakes Its Head

We know our dogs love to shake their heads and their bodies. It could be after they’ve gotten wet or been covered by something like grass but that telltale sound of jingling dog tags and splashing water is your dog’s way of getting things off of their bodies.

While head shaking is normal, it isn’t done all the time. If you notice your dog is shaking their head multiple times a day or doing it without an obvious cause like getting wet or getting grass on them, it is time to investigate.

The Canine Ear

It seems obvious when you think about it but dogs can’t use their paws to do fine motor actions like pick off something that’s stuck in their fur or clean their face and ears. The ways dogs can deal with irritations is to shake their heads strongly. This shaking motion is used to accomplish many different things such as:

  • Cleaning out their ears
  • Getting something off their face
  • Dislodging something that’s making them itch
  • Getting water off their bodies

Sometimes though, the shaking doesn’t work. It doesn’t alleviate the irritation. One of the most common ailments dogs can get is ear infections. Dogs have an L shaped ear canal which can make it difficult to keep them clean. Sometimes, a bacterial or yeast based ear infection can crop up. Unfortunately, these are very itchy and annoying for your dog. Since they can’t pick at their ears like we can, they shake their heads but because the infection isn’t going away, the shaking doesn’t stop.

A similar but slightly different issue is related to allergies. Dogs can get allergies just like humans can and these allergies can affect their ears. If their ears are itchy, the shaking can help scratch what their paws can’t reach.

Both situations, if left untreated, can be annoying and downright dangerous for your dog’s health. That’s why it’s important to know your dog’s normal behaviors so you can see when something is out of place.

How to Diagnose Ear Issues

If you see your dog shaking their head excessively, the first thing you should do is check their ears. There are a few common symptoms of ear infections and other ear issues that you can see:

  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Dry/Cracked skin
  • Discharge or pus
  • Swelling

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, it is time to take your dog to the vet. If you don’t notice any of these symptoms, you can take a flashlight and look into your dog’s ear to see if there are any obvious foreign objects. Sometimes, you are able to easily remove something. If you notice an object but can’t get it easily, do not stick anything into your dog’s ear so as not to damage their hearing. A vet can remove the obstruction safely without harming your pet.

Finally, if you don’t notice any obstruction but your dog is still struggling with that area, your vet can perform a procedure called an Otoscopy. This involves a tool that allows them to look into your dog’s ear canal and see what might be going on. This tool lets them see any obstructions from a foreign object or helps them see if there is an infection.

Canine Aural Health

The ears are one of the most sensitive parts of a dog’s body. Due to their structure, ear problems can be common for dogs. If you notice that your dog is shaking their head frequently or is having problems with their ears, check out the situation and go to a vet if needed as soon as possible. Ear infections, left untreated, can cost your dog their hearing.

If you suspect your dog has an ear problem or want to sit with a vet to ask more questions, contact us today to schedule an appointment.