Why Does My Dog Keep Shaking His Head? And, Why You Should Check Its Ears If It’s Doing This…

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Is your dog constantly shaking its head like it’s trying to shake something off?

Symptoms of Ear Infection in DogsIf your dog shakes its head until its ears are flopping and flapping around then I’d say there’s probably something wrong with your dog. No, I don’t mean mentally either! But, there’s something causing it to do this and it probably doesn’t feel good.

I’m not a vet, but I’ve owned dogs for years and I’ve had more than a few experiences of the head shaking, ear rattling dog….

This behavior is more often than not caused by your dog’s ears. Well, not it’s ears exactly, but an infection of the ears. Shaking is the only way they can try to alleviate the pain and discomfort they’re in.

Sure, your dog might shake its head once in awhile after a bath or a swim. That’s normal, they’re trying to get whatever is in their ears out!

But, if it continues it’s a problem, which can turn into a lot of pain if not treated. Irritation and inflammation to the dog’s outer ear canal can lead to infection. Try to keep water from going in your dogs ears as much as possible when giving your dog a bath and dry them out as much as possible too.

You’ve gotten water in your ears before too, right? It feels weird and it’s annoying. Plus, it’s hard to hear very good. Everything sounds muffled. So, how do you think your dog feels about it?

Probably the same as you did. But, what about when your ears hurt, feel plugged, or are itching like crazy? What would you do?

Well, you’d be pretty darn grumpy for one thing…and, you’d probably be scratching, rubbing, and picking too. Maybe some swearing too!

If you’re not sure how to clean your dog’s ears watch the video below. This is one I found that may be helpful to you from Greencross Vets.

No, not only water can be a problem in your dogs ears. There are other things that can cause irritation and eventual infection too, such as yeast and excessive bacteria that normally grow on the skin.

But, for now, does your dog have any of these symptoms?

Signs of Ear Infection in Dogs

Ear Infection In DogsIf your dog has any one or more of the following symptoms, I recommend you get your butts to the local vet!

  • Head shaking or tilting
  • Pawing at head & ears
  • Scratching at ears
  • Rubbing head against you, furniture, floor, etc.
  • Whining (especially while scratching ears)
  • Redness
  • Foul odor
  • Drainage
  • Hair loss around ear
  • Swelling
  • Walking around in circles
  • Loss of balance
  • Poor temperament
  • Ears sensitive to touch

So, any of these sound like your dog? If so, please have a vet check it out! Don’t make your best friend suffer.

You wouldn’t want an earache for weeks on end because of an ear infection yourself now, would you?

No? You wouldn’t? Of course not, it’d drive you absolutely, somebody-rip-my-ears-off-please CRAZY!

And, if left untreated, ear infections can lead to much worse things not to mention a LOT of pain.

Most Common Causes of Ear Infection in Dogs

  • Allergies
  • Dirt
  • Sand
  • Grass Seeds
  • Excess wax buildup
  • Hair
  • Parasites
  • Incorrect cleaning
  • Excess water in ears
  • Insect bites
  • Ear mites
  • Polyps

The list above is what could be a cause to your dog’s ear infection and it’s head shaking behaviors. But, of course there could always be others. Anyways, what starts as a minor irritation can lead to an ear infection.

Okay, I’m going to say it again…

Please bring your dog to the vet if it’s showing any of the above mentioned signs. It could be an ear infection or it could be something else. So, be a friend to man’s (and woman’s) best friend and have it checked out before it gets worse.

5 Tips to Prevent Ear Infections in Dogs

  1. Use a gentle ear cleaner for dogs
  2. Dry the inside of ears out with gauze or cotton balls
  3. Do NOT use Q-tip swabs
  4. Do NOT use rubbing alcohol or any other product that will irritate the skin further
  5. Maintain proper grooming & avoid excess hair

Not sure what’s best for your situation? If your dog may have an ear infection, check out my review of medicated ear cleaning products on Dog Ear Cleaning Solution. If you’re looking for an ear wash to use on a regular basis you might want to check out Clean Dog Ears – Dog Ear Wash Reviews

* One more thing to mention: Dogs suffering skin or food allergies are more susceptible to getting ear infections than others since allergies will cause inflammation in their skin even if you can’t really see it. This often leads to yeast and bacteria to overpopulate the skin causing a nice smelly infection. Yuck!

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear from you, my fellow dog lovers. Did you find this helpful? Do you have any advice you’d like to add or questions you want to ask? Fill out the comment box below and feel free to share this with your friends!

Or, if you’d rather I email you back, you can always fill out the contact form found here.

Best wishes to you and your furry, four-legged friend! 🙂 -Sherry

6 thoughts on “Why Does My Dog Keep Shaking His Head? And, Why You Should Check Its Ears If It’s Doing This…”

  1. WE have a large dog from a rescue and he is about 9 years old my wife would correct my on that im sure but he would have this problem and we would try to rinse and clean we think and have changed his food as we were told he had allergies and it seamed to help very good almost like he never had that problem at all we give him food that didn’t include any grain products at all and the food would have duck and potatoes mabey sweet potatoes my wife likes watermelon and so does the dog and we give him a bath to keep his hair from all over the house and our area has a large problem with fleas this bathing helps him to sleep 1 or 2 nights without the flea problem aggravating him and not having a peaceful rest as well as good sleep we have taken him to vet and do you think that watermelon ‘might’ have anything to do with it i would hope not thats her baby and she would feel bad about giving it to him. Also for treats we only give him celery first dog Ive had to love them and he also loves potato skins as wene we peal them for our meal. so if you feel any of our things that we give to him might add to this condition please tell us as we love our pets better than a whole lot of people. thank you for any help you would give us .( am not very good at this computer and bad on spelling it seames to go away the older I get Bill Pate

    • Hello Bill Pate,

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting! I’m always glad to hear from fellow animal lovers…

      As for your questions about whether the foods you’re giving to your dog causing the flea problem I don’t believe that these foods would cause it at all…at least I’ve never had a problem with our dogs eating watermelon, celery, or potato skins. Although I’m not a vet, I can’t see a reason these foods would cause the fleas to be worse, but if it’s been awhile since your dog has been checked by a veterinarian it could also be the food allergy flaring up again…maybe a change in any of the ingredients in the food might cause it and maybe your vet could pinpoint what exactly it is.

      It’s rather hard to say without knowing more info about your dog such as is his skin irritated looking…red, dry, scaly, or patchy in areas?

      And, another thing I’m wondering is how long has this flea problem been happening? Does your dog take any medications already such as anything for ticks and fleas? Or, use a flea & tick collar? What kind of shampoo are you using on your dog?

      There could be an ingredient or two in any of these things that is causing your dog’s problem…it might just be ticks though too if they won’t go away completely. Have you actually seen any fleas or been told by your dog’s vet that this is being caused by fleas?

      I wish I could help more, but if this problem continues I’d recommend bringing him to the vet and asking what they think. One suggestion you might find to help though is Neem Oil.

      It works for skin problems, fleas, ticks, and other bugs. If you’d like to learn more about Neem Oil, you can check out this post. If you do try any kind of Neem Oil, please be careful to read any instructions on the labels and use as directed as there are many kinds of it available. Some need to be diluted with water, some can be applied to the fur and skin, while I believe some can be added to the food…but, again I’m not an expert on using it, but I’ve heard it works from others that do use it on their dogs, so make sure to follow any directions for the specific product you choose.

      Again, I’m not a veterinarian, only a fellow dog owner, so please do check with your veterinarian about using any kind of product on your dog first as it may have other health reasons or conditions that may cause serious complications by using a new medication or product, even if it is a “natural” one.

      As for the watermelon, celery, and potato skins…although I really don’t think they’re the cause of the flea problem the only way to know for sure is not to feed any of these to your dog for a while. Then use the process of elimination if it seems to clear up after not giving any of these to your dog.

      First just try giving one of these as a treat for a few weeks even, then if there’s no problems with that go on to the next one and do the same process…just give those two as a treat for a few weeks and see what happens…if the problem starts up again once you start giving your dog the latest one that is most likely the culprit.

      I do hope I’ve been of some help here, and I’d love to know how your dog is doing in the future…whatever you try, I’d love to know as then it could help others with the same problem in the future. Take care and best wishes to all of you!
      🙂 -Sherry

  2. What if your dog has had her ears checked thoroughly by a vet and she is still shaking her head? He said an xray wouldn’t show anything but we could do lab work next. What would that show? I’m so worried she’s going to need an MRI because my emergency credit card only has a $500 limit. I am disabled- she is my everything. I’m worried it could be her brain. Help!

    • Hi Wyld Heart & Bella,

      Sorry to hear your dog is having this problem and I do hope I can offer a bit of help although it is hard to know exactly what is going on without actually seeing your dog or knowing more info on what is happening.

      A few questions I’d like you to consider 1) whether your vet or yourself have noticed any discharge or foul odor from the ears? 2) do the ears appear red or swollen? 3) are the ears itchy and/or appear painful to your dog?

      As for the veterinarian wanting to do lab work, I believe he or she may either have noticed discharge in the ear and believes it could be a bacterial infection or it could be another cause entirely. If it is discharge found in the dog’s ear, the vet will take a sample of it and send it in for testing to find out the type of bacteria so it can be treated with the right antibiotics. You might find this article from WebMD Healthy Dogs helpful: Ear Infection in Dogs Symptoms & Treatment.

      If your vet still cannot find anything, I’d take your dog to another veterinarian for a second opinion, especially if your veterinarian doesn’t appear to be doing everything they could or explaining what options you have properly. Every veterinary practice is different, so it doesn’t hurt to ask around.

      I might add too that it doesn’t hurt to ask whether your vet would accept payments for situations like this…I did when one of our dogs needed surgery quite a few years ago, and to my surprise they were fine with us making small payments by either a check or cash every month since we couldn’t afford to pay it all in one lump sum…much better for us in the long run than using a credit card.

      Take it one day at a time as much as you can…although I know that can be hard to do…and I do hope all goes well for you and your dog…I definitely know how it feels when our fur babies are sick!

      Hope I’ve helped in some small way at least and if you have any more questions or anything you’d like to add please feel free to do so…I’d love to hear how you both are doing.
      Best wishes 🙂 -Sherry

  3. May I also add that chronic ear infection with a lot of scratching activities can lead to a clinical symptom called aural hematoma which is a form of massive swelling of the ear pinna. It is a very uncomfortable disease and surgical intervention is often required to fix the problem. Therefore, it’s always advisable to practice proper ear cleaning and to avoid allergy food in order to minimize scratching behaviors on the skin and especially the ears.

    • Hi Cathy,
      Thanks for such a wise comment and very good advice! So far, I’ve never had to deal with aural hematomas, for which I’m very grateful…and I’m sure our dogs are too! I’ve seen pictures of this condition online and it does look very painful. I agree 100%, proper ear cleaning and avoiding foods that may cause allergies in dogs is the way to go!

      Best wishes 🙂


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