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Dog Shaking Head: Causes & Treatment

Dogs shake their heads occasionally without reason. Consistent head-shaking indicates ear problems, bacterial or yeast infections, parasites, or other medical issues that are bothering your dog.

Dogs love being goofy at times. An ear-flopping head shake is one such thing. 

Occasional head shaking is nothing to worry about. Dogs do it to either get rid of water or to shoo an insect bothering them. 

It’s a natural behavior of dogs to shake their head following a nice swim, for a good stretch, for an ear scratch, or after a comfortable nap.

Consistent head shaking can indicate something serious which must be addressed. 

There are several reasons why your dog is shaking its head. Some are extremely serious and require proper veterinary care.

Head-Shaking in Dogs

Dogs shake their head for several reasons. Head shaking without any visible reasons, like shaking excess water after a swim or shaking insects off, indicates a hidden problem that requires prompt veterinary care.

Dogs sometimes exhibit strange behaviors that are incomprehensible to their owners. If your dog is shaking its head constantly, you need to understand what it’s trying to communicate.

Head shaking can mean various things, such as ear infections, allergies, parasite infections, or other medical conditions. 

Identify the probable cause of discomfort in your dog to provide proper treatment. Consult a veterinarian to get a clear idea about the cause behind your dog’s unusual behavior.

Head-Shaking in Dogs

5 Common Reasons Why Dogs Shake Heads

Dogs mainly shake their head persistently due to ear-related problems. Ear mites, infections, and allergies are among the most common causes of constant head shaking.

Occasionally shaking heads is common for dogs. It is a natural behavior and does not pose any risk. Consistent shaking indicates an underlying problem that is bothering your canine friend.

There are many causes of head shaking in dogs. Some of which are listed below.

Related: Why Is My Dog Shaking?

1. Ear Mites

dog Ear Mites

Dogs love playing outdoors. They enjoy running on the grass and exploring all the corners of the house. Sometimes, they do encounter bugs that cause irritation in their ears.

Mites are tiny organisms barely visible to the naked human eye. They resemble pepper flakes and affect the ears of your dog. 

Check your dog’s ears to solve this problem. If they look red and contain rash, there is a possibility of a mite attack.

Mites are contagious and can be transferred from one canine to the other. Their bites can cause irritation which leads to excessive head-scratching, ear-scratching, and head shaking.

2. Allergies

dog with Allergies

One of the biggest reasons for uncontrollable head shaking is allergies. Some dogs are born with allergies[1] to specific foods, pollen, mold spores, or dust. If your dog comes in contact with an allergen, it can cause a wide range of symptoms in your pooch.

Some of these symptoms include the following:

  • Itchiness
  • Red skin
  • Inflammation
  • Vomiting
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Sneezing
  • Constant licking

Allergies cause a lot of itchiness. Your dog can be shaking its head due to severe itching in its ears or face. 

Consult a veterinarian to know more about what type of allergies your dog has and how to handle it when your dog encounters an allergen.

3. Head Injuries

dog with Head Injuries

Playing roughly or tripping can cause head injuries. A cut or a nick on its head can cause severe pain and discomfort for dogs. Head shaking is your dog’s way of dulling the pain.

Check for any signs of injuries on your dog’s head. Clean the wound to reduce the risk of infections. It is recommended to call your veterinarian and ask about any medicines to give your pooch.

4. Ear Infection (Bacterial & Yeast Infections)

dog ear infection
Image Source

Bacteria and yeast accumulation in your dog’s ears leads to infections. 

Look for symptoms of ear infections in your dog:

  • Head tilting.
  • Rashes.
  • Redness.
  • Swelling.
  • Smelly ear wax.
  • Hearing loss.

If your dog exhibits any of these signs, it might be suffering from ear infections and require medical care.

5. Ticks

Dog Ears with tick

Your dog can have a tick present in its body that is causing itching and irritation. If your dog has been in a high-grass area, check its ears for signs of ticks

These parasites burrow themselves in their host’s skin and feed on their blood, causing irritation. Your dog shakes its head to relieve this irritation. 

Ticks can transmit several life-threatening diseases to their hosts[2]. It is crucial to remove them as soon as possible to reduce the chances of disease transmission.

There are various home remedies you can use to remove ticks from your dog. Be careful when removing a tick because it can transmit diseases if you leave its mouthparts behind.

How to Stop Dogs from Shaking Their Head

Resolve head shaking in dogs by identifying the issue behind it and providing your dog with proper treatment to help them relieve any discomfort.

Constant head shaking can be annoying and frustrating. 

There are certain steps you can take to stop this behavior in your dog:

  • Apply creams and sprays recommended by a veterinarian to your dog’s ears.
  • Remove any ticks on your dog.
  • Put eardrops in your dog’s ears to aid it in fighting ear infections.
  • Tend to any wounds or cuts on your dog’s head and body.
  • Minimize the presence of allergens that can cause an allergic reaction.

Go to a veterinarian in case the situation worsens or if your dog starts showing other symptoms.


Dogs shake their heads for several reasons such as ear mites, infections, injuries, allergies, and parasites. Identifying the cause is important to provide proper care to your dog. Ensure your dog gets regular visits to the veterinarian’s office.


Why Does My Dog Keep Shaking His Head?

Your dog is shaking his head due to an ear infection or a parasite infestation. Dogs also shake heads to scratch their face and ears in case of allergies. Check your dog’s ears and look for signs of ticks and mites. If there are no parasites and the ear canal looks clear, your dog can be suffering from allergies or head injuries.

What is the Treatment for Dog Shaking Head?

Go to a veterinarian to get your dog checked properly. A doctor can tell you more about your dog’s condition and give you guidance on how to avoid head shaking from happening again.

Why Is My Dog Shaking His Head and Panting?

Panting and head-shaking can indicate a lot of things, but your dog is most likely doing this if they are hot or in pain. This can either be due to a hot day, a fever, or an ear infection. Take your dog to the vet for clarification.

Why Does My Dog Shake His Head and Scratch His Ear?

Your dog is most likely scratching its ear and shaking its head due to an irritation in its ear. Dogs shake their head if there’s something in their ear, and they scratch to relieve itchiness. This can be due to parasites, such as ear mites, or other irritation.

Why Is My Dog Shaking His Head and Tilting It to the Side?

Dogs tilt and shake their head if they have an irritant stuck in their ear. This is most likely dirt, grass seeds, water, a parasite, or an insect. It can also be a bacterial infection, causing irritation.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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