If you’ve noticed your dog shaking their head on occasion, you might have thought nothing of it since this behavior seems quite normal in dogs. But what if your dog keeps shaking their head? When is it too much?

Causes of Head Shaking In Dogs

Save for the occasional head shaking, if your dog keeps shaking their head a lot all of a sudden, you may have asked yourself: “Why does my dog keep shaking their head?” Below are some of the possible reasons which have been fact-checked and reviewed by a licensed vet.

Ear Infection

A common reason why a dog is shaking their head a lot is because of an ear infection. Among the symptoms of an ear infection are itchiness in the ear, inflammation, and discharge, which could all trigger your dog to shake their head in an attempt to get some sort of relief.

To check if this is the case, what you can do is to lift the flap of your dog’s ear, and if you see that it’s reddish, swelling/inflamed, or has a discharge, it’s likely that they have an ear infection.

Do note that even if you don’t see obvious outward symptoms, your dog might still have an ear infection since it’s possible it might be happening deep inside your dog’s ear.

Allergic Reactions & Skin Condition

Another common cause of head shaking in dogs is allergies. Like humans, dogs may also be allergic or have an allergic reaction to certain food ingredients, or environmental factors such as dust, pollen, mold, and mites.

Among allergy symptoms are itchiness (which is a common result of skin allergies), head shaking, chewing on their paws, rubbing their faces, recurring skin or ear infections, and ear scratching.

To be able to diagnose whether your dog has a food allergy, the normal process is to undergo an elimination diet to determine which food ingredients are causing the allergy. If the symptoms lessen or disappear, then it was probably a food allergy.

Meanwhile, allergies caused by environmental factors may be diagnosed through skin testing. Blood tests may also be recommended in some cases.

Read more: Signs Your Pet Has Allergies

Ear Mites

What exactly are ear mites? Ear mites are described as small skin parasites that cause intense itching in the ears which can often progress into an ear infection. All dogs can be victims of ear mites but these tiny parasites are most prevalent in puppies.

Usually, the most common source of ear mites is catching it from another dog, but it can also be caught at home, backyard, and around the environment.

If a dog keeps shaking their head and scratching their ear, it could be that they have ear mites. Luckily, treatment for ear mites is often simple. If you feel that your dog has ear mites, speak with your vet for advice.

Water In Ears

If your dog keeps shaking their head and tilting to one side, it may be because there’s water stuck in their ears. Yes, just like us humans, water can also get stuck in your dog’s ears, and because their ear canals are longer, it may be a bit harder to drain all the water out.

Depending on how much and how hard it is to remove the water stuck in your dog’s ear, it can become a health issue. In some cases, your dog would need some help to dry their ears out and prevent infections.

Foreign Object In Ears

A foreign object stuck in the ear may also be a possible reason why a dog keeps shaking their head. Because they are trying to remove the object that may be lodged in their ear canal, you may notice them shaking their head excessively. Apart from shaking their head, they may also paw at their ear.

A tell-tale sign that a foreign object may be lodged in your dog's ear is ears that seem swollen or a discharge of blood. Because a dog may shake their head excessively given the situation, it may cause a blood vessel bursting that may cause the ear flap to swell. If so, contact your vet immediately.

Aural Hematoma

Aural Hematoma or Swollen Ear Flap in dogs happens when there is swelling in the ear accompanied by bloody discharge. This occurs when there is a burst in the blood vessel inside a dog’s ear flap. Usually, the ear would feel hot and appear droopy.

Most cases of aural hematoma come secondary to other issues such as skin conditions, an ear infection, or the presence of ear mites.

Growth / Lump

Another possible reason why your dog may be shaking their head is because of a growth or lump. Skin lumps may look the same with the naked eye, but there are many kinds of skin lumps that may develop. These include cysts, abscesses, benign tumors, malignant tumors, hematomas, warts, or skin tags.

Treatment & Care

If you notice that your dog is shaking their head more than they normally do, it’s best to speak with your vet immediately so that you’ll know what is causing it and be able to provide the proper treatment to relieve your dog from the irritation, stress, or pain they may be feeling.

Do note that differentiating head shaking to head tremors is essential. When it comes to a head shake, your dog is consciously shaking their head. According to research, head tremor is something that your dog cannot control.

If your dog is exhibiting head tremors all of a sudden, call your vet immediately as it may be an emergency situation that needs to be addressed without delay.

Online Vet & Emergency Fund

Dog head shaking is one among the many concerns where an online vet service would probably come in handy. For instance, with Petcube’s Online Vet service, you can talk to a vet as it happens, wherever you may be.

You may also discuss ways to prevent excessive head shaking from happening, along with any other concerns you may have regarding your pet’s overall health. Meanwhile, online vet services aren’t just limited to general queries.

It may also be beneficial in emergency cases when you need immediate advice from licensed veterinarians as to what steps to take as well as to determine the severity of your dog’s symptoms.

Do note that in emergency cases and in cases when you need a prescription, you would still need to bring your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

Having an Emergency Fund would also be beneficial in the cases mentioned above for security and peace of mind. Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund allows you to be able to fund veterinary expenses, especially during emergencies at an affordable rate.

At the same time, the Emergency Fund also gives you access to an Online Vet service that enables you to speak with licensed vets, anytime and anywhere.


Is it normal for a dog to be shaking their head and panting?

If your dog is shaking their head and panting, it’s best to have them checked with the vet to know what is causing it. The fact that the head shaking is accompanied by panting could be indicative of a health condition.

If my dog keeps shaking their head, is it something serious?

Not necessarily. However, there are various possible reasons and some cases could be serious so it is advisable to speak with your vet immediately to determine the severity and have your doggo treated if necessary.

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