The Pet Doctor

Dog Keeps Shaking His Head? Here's What You Need To Know

If only dogs could talk and say what's bothering them. Since they can't, their owners have to rely on body language cues. One thing that can be bothersome to dog owners is when their dogs shake their heads with such force that their ears flop back and forth and make a loud slapping sound. When dogs shake their ears like this, it's typically because their ears are bothering them. Some will also try to rub their ears into the floor or ground when their ears are painful or causing them discomfort. If this sounds like behavior your dog is exhibiting, read on. 

Shaking & Rubbing Can Cause Hematomas

The shaking and rubbing may end up causing an ear hematoma in the ear flap. This can happen when the blood vessels in the ear flap break open and form a pocket of blood underneath the skin similar to a bruise. If this happens, your dog will likely continue to shake and rub and make the condition worse. Because of this, it's important to take your dog to a veterinarian for a thorough examination to find the root cause of the head shaking before a hematoma adds to the problem. Before calling the veterinarian, carefully check your dogs ears to see if it has already developed a hematoma so you'll be able to tell the receptionist what is wrong. 

Common Causes & Treatments 

The most common cause of pain and discomfort in dog ears are ear infections, particularly in dogs with floppy ears. The cause of the ear infection will need to be diagnosed by a veterinarian because various things can cause ear infections in dogs, including ear mites, bacteria, yeast, wax plugs, and allergies. If there is an infection, you may notice discharge or an odor from inside the ear.

To determine the cause, the veterinarian will take a sample of the ear wax and look at it under a microscope. Additionally, the veterinarian will look inside your dogs ears to make sure the ear drums have not ruptured, which could necessitate the use of prescription pain relief as ruptured ear drums can be quite painful. 

Treatment for mites, bacteria, or yeast will be with medicated ear drops based on the diagnosis of the culprit that caused the ear infection. If no mites, bacteria, or yeast are found under the microscope, your dog likely has an allergy. You may need to switch their diet to a special one that is hypoallergenic.  

For more information, contact clinics like Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic.