Why Is My Dog Shaking His Head? Causes, Symptoms, And Solutions | DogExpress
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Why Is My Dog Shaking His Head Causes, Symptoms, And Solutions

Why Is My Dog Shaking His Head? Causes, Symptoms, And Solutions

Since dogs do not have opposable thumbs, they depend on other ways to remove something in their ears or scratch an itch. So now you may be wondering if it is the reason why they are shaking their heads.

Experts say these are reasons that a dog shakes their head. They may be shaking their head because a bug landed on them, perhaps some water got into their ears after a swim, or it could be any other reason. While dogs can always rub their ears or scratch their faces with their paws, it is not as effective as a quick shake of their head.

Ear infections

These are common issues for canines. Most typical causes are enumerated below:

  • Moist ears
  • Yeast
  • Bacteria
  • Ear mites
  • Allergies


dog ear infection

There could be other signs of ear infection that you may notice. For example, they could constantly shake their heads and scratch their ears. In addition, you may see redness and inflammation within their ears.

There may be smelly discharge coming out of their ears that could be any of the following colors:

  • brown
  • green
  • yellow

If you notice these signs, please immediately take your dog to the vet. This way, they would not have to suffer any more distress – this would ensure that the issue would not escalate. Once the vet has examined your dog, they would probably suggest a prescription medicine to heal.

Earwax buildup

Yet another reason why a dog shakes their head is because they have too much earwax. It tends to be uncomfortable and could block airflow in their ears. In addition, it could be a precursor of another infection. Clean their ears if you notice a foul smell with brown gunk in their ears with no discharge or skin irritation. If your dogs’ ears are healthy, you don’t have to clean them at home.


Some dogs tend to suffer from the same allergies that we humans do. It could be due to environmental factors or uncontrolled parasites like ticks and fleas. Dogs may develop food allergies, but they tend to be rarer.

If your dog is not stopping shaking their head and showing an array of other symptoms, such as the following, it is time you get them tested for allergies:

  • excessive licking of paws
  • scratching hot spots
  • diarrhea
  • rashes

allergy to dogs

Read Also: 5 Ways To Prevent Allergies In Dogs

Neurological disorders 

At times, dogs tilt their head or shake them involuntarily. It might be an indication that they are suffering from neurological disorders. There are some other symptoms such as the following that hint that they may be suffering from a more severe health issue, such as the following:

  • limping or abnormal gait
  • facial distortion
  • losing balance
  • crying out because of pain

Water in the ear 

You can prevent this by putting cotton balls in their ears. In the smaller dog breeds, put half a cotton ball. Do this before your dog goes bathing or swimming. Make sure that you never spray or dump water straight on their heads when you are bathing them.

Instead of that, clean their bodies from the neck down. You can use a damp washcloth to wipe down their face and ears. If your dog would not tolerate cotton balls in their ears while swimming, you could clean their ears with a drying solution after their swim.

Head shake and a shake-off-The difference.

Apart from a quick head shake, some dogs also shake off. Experts say that if dogs shake their heads along with the rest of their bodies, it could be because they are trying to reset following a stressful or tense situation. You would see this often after your dog has gone through a stressful situation or has met another dog.

Once they have sniffed each other, which is obligatory, you often see them shaking their heads but entire bodies. It is normal canine behavior that dogs exhibit after playing with another dog.

dog ear infection

Severe conditions connected to head-shaking 

There are several serious reasons why your dog could be shaking their head excessively. For example, a foreign object has become stuck in their ear canals, or it could be an inflammatory disease.

At times, they may have head tremors because they are suffering from neurological disorders – it is common for dog parents to confuse this with head shaking.

If your dog suffers from ear infections more often, the vet will look for underlying medical conditions. It could be any of the following:

  • allergies
  • anatomical abnormalities
  • hypothyroidism

Ear mite infestation 

Ear mite infestation is not as common as ear infection – this is true for adult dogs. However, they lead to the same symptoms as enumerated below:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • discharge

In these cases, your dog could be shaking their head too much so that it can gain relief from the symptoms. If you think your dog is suffering from either of these problems, you should take them to the vet. The vet will flush out their ears in great detail if mites infest them.

Ticks in their ears 

At times, ticks might find their way to your dog’s ears and can lead to your dog shaking its head on and on. They might bury up just below the flap of your dog’s ears, or they may also bury deep down within their ear canals. If this is indeed the case, you would have to take your dog to the vet to have the pest removed.

However, if the tick is on the shell of their ear, you can remove it yourself. Always check their ears in detail after they have spent time outdoors.


Read Also: 6 Ways to Keep Flies Away From Dog


A seizure is a critical condition. If you see that your dog is shaking their head persistently and there are other signs that it may be having an attack, you should immediately reach out to your vet. In that case, you should be ready to take your dog to a vet.

Seizures can lead to severe damage to your dog’s brain and could prove fatal. If you suspect this is happening, you should get them treated as soon as possible.

Here are some solutions for addressing head shaking in dogs:

  1. Consult a Veterinarian: If your dog is shaking their head persistently, it’s essential to seek professional advice.
  2. Ear Examination: Examine your dog’s ears for signs of redness, discharge, swelling, or odor.
  3. Gentle Ear Cleaning: If your dog’s ears appear dirty or have excessive wax build-up, you can gently clean them using a veterinarian-approved ear-cleaning solution.
  4. Allergies and Irritants: Dogs can develop allergies or sensitivities to certain foods, environmental factors, or grooming products.
  5. Regular Grooming: Proper grooming practices, including regular brushing and bathing, can help prevent skin irritations and potential ear problems.
  6. Prevent Moisture Build-up
  7. Regular Check-ups: Schedule routine check-ups with your veterinarian to ensure your dog’s overall health and well-being.


There could be several other reasons why your dog is shaking their head, such as the following:

  • flea bites
  • contact dermatitis
  • ear hematoma

If a flea has bitten your dog on its head or ears or around those ears, it could shake their heads so that it can relieve the discomfort to a certain extent. However, these bites can infect their skin too.

Like humans, dogs may have allergic reactions when they come in contact with specific substances such as medications and ointments. In addition, your dog could develop ear hematoma when they shake their head and scratch their ears vigorously and thus burst a blood vessel.


Q: What are the possible causes of a dog shaking its head?

A: There are several potential reasons why a dog shakes their head:

  • ear infection
  • ear mites
  • tick in ear
  • foreign objects
  • tumor
  • certain diseases

If you see your dog shaking their head repeatedly, take them to the vet.

Q: How do you treat a dog’s shaking head?

A: Your vet could prescribe any of the following treatments:

  • anti-inflammatory tablets or antibiotics
  • medicines or topical eardrops
  • ear flush or wash
  • ear mite treatment

Q: Is it bad if my dog keeps shaking their head?

A: If your dog is not stopping shaking their head, there is a good chance they may be suffering from some bacterial or yeast infection in their ears.

Q: What is shaking the head a symptom of?

A: It could be an essential tumor, which is a neurological disorder – this means it is an issue with the nervous system. It leads to involuntary trembling or shaking of specific parts of their bodies.

Q: Should I take my dog to the vet for head tremors?

A: If your dog is shaking their head side down or up or showing any other sign of neurological problems, you should get them checked by the vet.

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