What Does it Mean When Your Dog Shakes its Head A Lot?

Dogs have a very close relationship with humans. For proof, look no further than the fact that they can read us better than chimpanzees, which is rather remarkable when the latter happens to be our closest living relatives. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that dogs have picked up some human behaviors. Having said that, it is important that interested individuals don’t anthropomorphize their dogs too much because that can lead to some very mistaken conclusions. For instance, people shouldn’t interpret a dog shaking their head to mean “No.” After all, someone shaking their head doesn’t even necessarily mean “No” when it comes to humans. For example, Bulgarians and a number of other peoples from the Balkans use head-shaking to mean “Yes” and nodding to mean “No,” though it isn’t clear why this is the case. Meanwhile, Indians can say very different things with seemingly similar movements of the head, with examples ranging from a slight movement of the head from left to right for “No” to a backward tilt of the head combined with a raising of the chin for “Hey.” Simply put, interested individuals shouldn’t assume that a dog shaking their head means “No,” particularly since it could indicate that there is something wrong with them.

What Are Some of the Potential Reasons that Your Dog Is Shaking Their Head?

Generally speaking, dogs will shake their head because they feel either some kind of itch or some kind of irritation in their ears. In most cases, this shouldn’t be a huge issue because the dog will shake their head once or twice before stopping. However, if a dog continues shaking their head in a vigorous manner for a prolonged period of time, that could be a sign of a serious problem. For those who are curious, here are some of the most common issues that could be affecting such dogs:

Something Is Stuck in the Dog’s Ears

For starters, it is possible that the dog has some kind of foreign object that is stuck in their ears. Dogs can generate a fair amount of force by shaking their head. As a result, it is possible that they will be able to remove the foreign object by just shaking their head again and again. Unfortunately, there can be cases in which the foreign object is stuck too deep for this to have any effect, thus resulting in persistent headshaking. Some people might be tempted to intervene on their own. However, they should refrain from doing so, lest they wind up making the situation worse. Instead, a foreign object stuck deep in a dog’s ear canal is definitely the kind of thing that is best entrusted to a professional who has the right expertise, experience, and equipment.

There Might Be Water in the Dog’s Ears

Speaking of which, dogs might shake their head because they have water in their ears. If this happens a lot, interested individuals might want to look into why this is happening so that they can put a stop to it. For example, it could be because they are spraying water directly on their dog’s head when they are bathing them. If so, interested individuals should consider wiping their dog’s head with a damp washcloth while bathing the rest of their dog’s body. Similarly, it could be because their dog is getting water in the ears by swimming about. In which case, it might be helpful to put cotton balls in their ears beforehand to prevent the worst of it.

There Might Be an Infection in the Dog’s Ears

Infections can make for itchiness as well as inflammation, both of which can cause dogs to start shaking their heads. In some cases, interested individuals might be able to pick up on the signs of an infection by just lifting up their dog’s ears. If they see redness, swelling, and discharge, those should be considered signs that there is indeed some kind of infection. Unfortunately, even if interested individuals don’t see any telltale signs, there could still be an infection situated deeper in the dog’s ear canals. Once again, this is the kind of thing that is best entrusted to a veterinarian, who will figure out exactly what is going on so that they can implement the right treatment for the relevant kind of infection.

The Dog Might Be Having an Allergic Reaction

Allergies can cause itchiness. As a result, it is possible that the dog is having an allergic reaction to either something that they have eaten or something that they have come into contact with. In any case, it is common for allergies to produce other noticeable symptoms, which can include but are by no means limited to hair loss, skin infections, scratching at the ears, and rubbing at the face.

Neurological Disorders

There have been cases in which the dog wasn’t shaking their head but instead experiencing head tremors that looked as though they were shaking their head. Suffice to say that this is the kind of thing that interested individuals should bring up with a veterinarian sooner rather than later.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Shaking Their Head a Lot?

If dog owners are lucky, the cause of their dog’s persistent headshaking will be both very obvious and very simple to solve. After all, said combination should enable them to help out their canine companion, thus bringing about relief with the swiftest speed. Unfortunately, dog owners won’t always be so lucky. If they see their dog shaking their head in a vigorous manner for a prolonged period of time, they should bring their dog to a veterinarian to find out what is going on. This is important because interested individuals can’t help out unless they actually know how they can help out. For that matter, if dog owners notice that their dog keeps on experiencing the same ear-related issue, they should bring their dog to the veterinarian as well. It could mean that there is some kind of underlying issue at work, which should be identified so that it can be treated as soon as possible.

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