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Why Do Dogs Shake Their Heads?

Why Do Dogs Shake Their Heads?

While some dog behavior is completely fine and nothing to worry about, other may raise some concerns. But in which category does shaking their heads fall? Why do dogs shake their heads in the first place?

Why do dogs shake their heads?

First of all let’s find out why dogs shake their heads in the first place. In most cases, dogs shake their heads to get something out of their ears. Most commonly, that could be water. Whenever your dog feels any kind of itchiness or discomfort in his ears, he will probably start shaking his head. If your dog constantly shakes his head, it might be a sign that something is going on in his ears.

If the head shaking goes on for days, make sure to schedule an appointment with your vet.

Here are some of the most common reasons why do dogs shake their heads.

Infections in the ear

If your dog is shaking his head excessively, the most probable cause could be a bacterial or fungal infection.

Ear infections are itchy and can cause the production of ear discharge. Additionally, these infections also cause inflammation, which will also cause your dog to shake his ears.

Infections can occur deep within your dog’s ears. That’s why it’s possible that they are present even if you don’t notice any obvious signs.

Itchiness caused by allergies

Another reason as to why your dog just doesn’t stop shaking his head could be allergies. He may be allergies to ingredients that can be found in food, but also different environmental triggers. The symptoms of allergies in dogs include: itching skin, hair loss, recurring infections of the ears and skin, ear scratching, shaking their head, chewing their feed and pawing their face.

To diagnose a food allergy in your dog, he would have to go on a diet that contains only one single carbohydrate, and one single source of protein that has never been fed to your dog before. Your dog can only eat that food for a month or two. If the symptoms disappear completely — a food allergy is likely. However, you shouldn’t do any kind of testing on your dog before asking your vet first.

If the allergy is environmental, testing is done via intradermal testing. Ask your vet if they thinks that this is necessary.

Water in the ears

If your dog starts to excessively shake his head whenever he has water in his ears, help him out with some cotton balls. Place the cotton balls in your dog’s ears before swimming or taking a bath. That will soak up the excess water and help your dog control the head shaking.

Even when wearing those cotton balls, you should still avoid spraying or dumping water directly into your dog’s ears. Bath his body from the neck down and wash the face of your dog with a damp washcloth.

If your dog doesn’t enjoy having cotton balls in his ears while doing some wet activities, clean his ears with a drying solution after getting them vet. Ask your vet which products he would recommend for you and your dog.


In most cases, dogs shaking their head is something completely normal and common.

However, if your dog shakes his head excessively for a prolonged period of time, schedule an appointment with your vet so that he can have a look at it.

If the cause is an infection, your dog will maybe need some antibiotics or topical treatments.

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My name is Katy and I am 27. I love to travel and you would be surprised how good I am at karaoke. 🙂 Passionate dog lover and a "mother" to a beautiful toy puddle named Zara. I work as a volunteer in a local shelter and I am a veterinary assistant helping our four-legged friends every day.