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Why Dogs Shake Their Heads?

It’s hard to imagine the wide variety of behaviors that dogs can develop. It is possible that some of them are normal and others not so much.

We can regularly see how dogs turn in circles chasing their tails or urinate and defecate anywhere. As owners of these animals, we must ensure that such behaviors do not become bad habits.

Why Dogs Shake Their Heads

One of the most common behaviors that we can see in canines is when they shake their heads. Many people think that dogs shake their heads to dry themselves after getting wet, but while this is true, there are other reasons why they do so.

Reasons Why Dogs Shake Their Heads

Head shaking is normal behavior in dogs. Generally, these animals perform this action to remove something from their ears or simply calm some itching or irritation.

Many people get worried when they see their pets shaking their heads as they think they have a health problem. Therefore, it is important to know the leading causes of this behavior and what to do, depending on whether the situation is serious.

Water in Its Ears

One of the most common reasons dogs shake their heads is the water in their ears. Improperly bathing a canine can have negative consequences, especially for its ears.

Moisture in the ears of these dogs could cause infections. That is why it is essential to take preventive measures to prevent excess water from entering these organs.

It is always recommended to put cotton balls inside its ears before bathing or taking it to a swimming pool. In fact, many owners often bathe their pets from their necks down while carefully cleaning their faces and ears with special products and a towel.

If your dog is very hyperactive and you can’t calm it down during the bath, you could ask the vet for some recommendations or take it to a professional groomer.

Itching and Irritation

We often see dogs scratching parts of their body, including their ears, using their paws. However, they can also shake their heads to relieve itching.

This can be normal behavior for your dog as you must remember that it doesn’t have fingers to scratch itself and can’t go to the vet on its own. It is your duty as a pet owner to know what is causing the itching or discomfort and take the necessary steps to help.

Generally, itchy ears in dogs are due to allergies. Just like humans, these canines can be allergic to certain triggers such as:

  • Food
  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Mould
  • Mites

You may wonder how to tell if itchiness is why your dog is shaking its head. It is difficult to know without the help of a veterinarian, but when a canine is allergic, it generally presents other symptoms that will help us clarify our doubts. Some of them are:

  • Hair loss
  • Itching not only in the ears but in other parts of your body
  • Infections
  • Inappropriate behaviors such as paw chewing or head shaking

Something similar happens in case of irritation. Irritation in the ears of these animals is extremely uncomfortable, and they will not only shake their heads but may produce sounds of pain (in more severe cases).

Whatever the case, it is best to take your pet to a professional.


Dogs may feel some discomfort in their ears, but they don’t know why. An object may be stuck in them, there may be excess wax, they may be inflamed, or they may have a hearing disease. No matter the cause, these animals will shake their heads to eliminate that discomfort.

Bacterial Infections

Infections also fall among dogs’ most common causes of excessive head shaking. This problem can become serious if it is not treated on time.

Generally, the most common infections are caused by fungi and bacteria. Dogs will shake their heads vigorously to relieve the great discomfort these problems cause. In addition to this behavior, other common symptoms are:

  • Excess secretion
  • Inflammation
  • Itching
  • Redness

You may not see any outward symptoms in certain cases as the infection can go very deep. Therefore, if you notice that your pet shakes its head a lot without noticing any signs, do not hesitate to take it to the vet as soon as possible.

Ear Tumours

This is one of the most dangerous causes of head shaking in dogs. If you notice strange behavior in your pet, do not hesitate to take it to the vet. If you ignore the problem, it could be too late in the future.

Ear tumors can become painful and uncomfortable. Check your dog carefully if you notice that it shakes its head frequently and you see something strange in his ear.

Other Serious Health Problems

We have already discussed the most common problems that can cause your dog to shake his head excessively. However, keep in mind that some diseases would also cause this dog to exhibit such behavior.

As we have said above, allergies are a common cause of this behavior in dogs. In addition, hypothyroidism, ear hematomas, otitis, ear vasculitis, and some anatomical animals could also cause discomfort in the ears of these animals, causing them to shake their heads to relieve themselves.

It is essential to diagnose the cause of the problem in time to treat it properly and prevent the situation from getting worse since you must bear in mind that hearing diseases are potentially serious.

Should I Be Concerned About My Dog’s Head Shaking?

This type of behavior should not be a cause for concern in certain cases. It all depends on the severity of the situation.

For example, if the cause of your dog’s shaking head is a severe illness, then you should take it to the vet immediately; otherwise, your pet’s general health could be affected.

Remember that most of the causes of this behavior in dogs are caused by certain ear problems such as allergies, infections, irritation, etc., which can be easily resolved with medications and treatments indicated by the veterinarian.