Possible Causes of Dog Shaking Head

A dog shaking his head may indicate many possible causes. With canines, even a small itch, sting, or tickle can trigger them to shake their heads to ease the irritation. Because of this, it is usually not a huge concern if your pet shakes his head from time to time. If your dog consistently shakes his head, however, it may indicate a more serious issue that will need to be addressed. There are various possible reasons a dog may persistently shake his head, and some of them may require immediate attention.

Possible Causes of Dog Shaking Head

  • Ear infections: A mild yeast infection or any other sort of infection of the ear is enough to make your dog uncomfortable and prompt him to shake his head. 
  • Swelling of the ears: If a dog has an ear infection and it is left untreated, he may begin to scratch or bang the ears against surfaces, causing a blood blister to form. This blister, referred to as an aural hematoma, may cause your dog to shake his head persistently. 
  • Injury to the head: A wound of infection located on any part of the dog's head can cause head shaking. Any discomfort associated with the injury will prompt your dog to shake his head even more.
  • Head trauma: Trauma to the head can cause many problems that many include shaking of the head. If the trauma is only minor, the shaking should eventually ease away.
  • Unstable balance: A dog that has issues with balance due reasons such as head trauma, stroke, or vestibular syndrome, may shake his head frequently.
  • Foreign object in ear: In rare cases, head shaking may indicate an foreign object has found its way into the ear canal, and will need to be removed. 
  • Ear mites or ticks: Occasionally, the presence of ear mites or ticks may cause a dog to shake his head.

Symptoms of an Ear Infection in Dogs

Of all of the possible causes a dog may shake his head, the most common reason is an infection of the ear or some other ear-related condition. Common signs of an ear infection include the following:

  • Ear is hot to the touch
  • Irritation to the ear
  • Odor
  • Drainage or discharge coming from the ear
  • Wetness
  • Hard or sticky hair around the ear
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Pet owners should examine the ear and look for any of these signs of an ear infection. Breeds such as the Poodle and Shih Tzu tend to grow hair inside of the ear canal, and it will need to be pulled frequently to prevent infection.

When to Contact a Veterinarian

Pet owners should contact a veterinarian if they notice that their dog has an ear infection because medication may be required for treatment. If your dog is frequently shaking his head and you are unaware of the cause, promptly see a veterinarian as it could indicate a serious condition. Although occasional head shaking is quite normal for dogs, frequent head shaking is not. Severe head trauma or injury to the head will need immediate medical attention and should never be ignored.