Why Does My Dog Keep Shaking His Head?

Why Does My Dog Keep Shaking His Head?

It’s not uncommon to see dogs shaking their heads from time to time. While occasional head shaking is normal behavior for dogs, persistent or excessive shaking could be a sign of an underlying issue.

In this guide, we will explore the potential reasons why does my dog keep shaking his head and discuss the most common causes, symptoms, and treatments associated with this behavior.

Top 5 Why Does My Dog Keep Shaking His Head?

Head shaking in dogs can be attributed to various factors, including medical conditions, irritations, or even behavioral reasons.

It’s essential to pay attention to accompanying signs and symptoms to better understand the cause behind the head shaking. Now, let’s delve into the key concepts and terms related to this behavior.

1: Ear Infections:

One of the most prevalent causes of head shaking in dogs is ear infections. Dogs are prone to bacterial or yeast infections in their ears, which can lead to discomfort and itchiness.

The head shaking is an attempt to alleviate the irritation. Other signs of ear infections may include redness, odor, discharge, scratching, and swelling around the ears.

Prompt veterinary attention is necessary to diagnose and treat ear infections accurately.

2: Ear Mites:

Ear mites, tiny parasites that infest the ear canal, can cause dogs to shake their heads vigorously. These mites feed on wax and oils in the ears, leading to intense itching and irritation.

Dogs with ear mite infestations may also scratch excessively at their ears and have dark, crumbly discharge. Veterinary treatment is necessary to eliminate ear mites effectively.

3: Allergies:

Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies that affect their skin and ears. Allergic reactions to environmental factors such as pollen, dust mites, or certain food ingredients can trigger itching and irritation in the ears, leading to head shaking.

Additionally, dogs may exhibit other allergy-related symptoms like sneezing, coughing, red skin, or watery eyes. Identifying and managing the underlying allergen is crucial to alleviate the dog’s discomfort.

4: Foreign Objects:

Dogs have a curious nature and may get foreign objects, such as grass awns, plant material, or small insects, stuck in their ears.

These foreign bodies cause irritation and prompt the dog to shake its head vigorously in an attempt to dislodge the object.

If a foreign object is suspected, it’s important to seek veterinary assistance to safely remove it and prevent further complications.

5: Behavioral Reasons:

In some cases, dogs may shake their heads as part of their normal behavior, particularly after bathing or swimming. Dogs naturally shake their heads to get rid of excess water or moisture in their ears.

This behavior is usually brief and not a cause for concern unless accompanied by other symptoms.

When should I be concerned about my dog's head shaking?

You should be concerned about your dog’s head shaking if it becomes persistent, excessive, or is accompanied by other signs or symptoms. 

While occasional head shaking is normal for dogs, persistent or frequent shaking may indicate an underlying issue that requires attention. 

Here are some situations in which you should be concerned:

If your dog is shaking their head intensely and continuously, to the point where it seems excessive or out of the ordinary, it could be a sign of discomfort or pain. This may indicate an underlying condition that requires veterinary attention.

If your dog’s head shaking is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian. Look out for signs such as redness, swelling, discharge, foul odor, excessive scratching or rubbing of the ears, changes in behavior or appetite, or any signs of discomfort or pain. 

If your dog starts showing changes in behavior, such as increased irritability, reluctance to touch or handle the head or ears, or if they are constantly tilting their head to one side, it may indicate a more serious problem that should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

If your dog’s head shaking episodes continue for an extended period or recur frequently, even after cleaning their ears or attempting to address the issue, it is recommended to seek veterinary advice. Chronic or recurring head shaking may be a sign of an underlying condition that needs further investigation and treatment.

If your dog shows signs of balance problems, unsteady gait, or difficulty coordinating movements in addition to head shaking, it could be an indication of a neurological issue. This warrants prompt veterinary attention to determine the cause and provide appropriate treatment.


Understanding why dogs shake their heads can help us identify potential issues and provide appropriate care.

Ear infections, ear mites, allergies, foreign objects, and normal behavioral habits are common factors associated with head shaking in dogs.

Remember, if your dog is shaking their head persistently, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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