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Dog Keeps Shaking Their Head: What To Do

When a dog keeps shaking their head, there are many different causes.

Canines shake their heads to relieve irritation from the slightest itch, sting, or tickle.

As a result, it usually isn't a big deal if your pet bobs their head sometimes. 

dog keeps shaking head

However, if your dog shakes their head frequently, it can signify a more serious problem that needs to be handled.

A dog may shake their head repeatedly for various reasons, some of which may call for a quick veterinary visit.

Is a "Shake-Off" Distinct From a Head Shake?

Some dogs also "shake off," in addition to a rapid head shake.

A "shake off" is a method dogs employ to reset after any uncomfortable or stressful scenario.

They would shake their whole body and head so they could relax.

Typically, a "shake-off" frequently occurs when two dogs first interact.

According to Dr. Georgina Phillips in her article (, this first meeting can give dogs a little anxiety, so after the customary sniffing, both dogs "shake off." 

Additionally, suppose your pup vigorously shakes after activities like playing, long travels or meeting new people.

In that case, they might feel anxious about the situation and just needs to shake the stress away.

To help ease your Fluffy Friend's stress, an anti-anxiety bed helps.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Travelling With Your Dog

Possible Causes When Dog Keeps Shaking Head

Once your veterinarian has determined the cause of your dog's head shaking, many of the most frequent causes are simple to treat.

Still, untreated ear disorders can quickly deteriorate into more dangerous ones.

The possible reasons why your dog keeps shaking their head include the following:

Yeast or Bacterial Infection

dog keeps shaking head

An ear infection in dogs is the most common problem that results in significant head shaking. 

An infection is likely present if you raise the flap of your dog's ear and notice redness, swelling, or discharge.

Although ear mite infestations in dogs can produce similar symptoms akin to yeast or bacterial illnesses, they're less frequent.

Remember that infections can happen deep inside a dog's ear, so an illness may be there even if you don't notice any evident symptoms.

Parasitic Ear Mites

Ear mites are like tiny crabs; they live in your dog's ear canal, though they occasionally move to the head and body after leaving the ear.

They feed on the fluids and tissue fragments in your pet's ear canal.

Puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems are more likely to contract ear problems like ear mites.

Skin Allergens and Irritants

One of the most common causes of head shaking is environmental allergens or irritants like grass awns, sand, water, or insects. 

Dogs with allergies frequently exhibit various symptoms such as scratching at their ears, persistent head shaking, rubbing at their faces, chewing on their feet, itchy skin, hair loss, skin diseases, and recurrent ear infections.

Your pup might also be experiencing food allergies.

A vet would recommend putting your canine on a diet with a single carbohydrate like rice and a single source of protein like venison or hydrolysed food.

Keep your dog on this diet for about a month or two and observe any changes.

Blood testing and intradermal skin testing are other options.

Related: Dog Feeding 101: Choose the Right Food for Your Dog

Aural Hematomas or Hemorrhage

If a dog's ear infection is not treated, they can scratch or hit their ears against objects, which could develop a blood blister or ear hematoma. 

Aural haematomas are blisters that may also cause headshakes.

Ear Polyps

dog keeps shaking head

There are several causes of ear polyps, which can appear inside and outside of the ear.

Inflammatory polyps may develop in the ear due to persistent ear irritation brought on by allergies or excessive ear wax production.

There are numerous types of polyps, including malignant ones.

Any ear polyp can restrict the ear canal and retain natural ear secretions, providing the ideal conditions for bacterial and yeast infections to flourish.

Other Serious Conditions

Inflammatory diseases, neurological issues, bacterial infections, and even foreign objects stuck in the ear canal can all cause excessive head shaking in dogs.

Head tremors caused by these ailments can sometimes be mistaken for excessive head shaking.

If your dog constantly gets ear infections, you and your veterinarian should look for an underlying cause, such as allergies, structural anomalies, or hypothyroidism.

Your pup may occasionally scratch or pick at his ears in between shakes.

As some dogs can be drawn to the smell of an infection, you can also notice other canines suddenly become interested in your dog's ears.

Related: How to Stop Your Dog's Excessive Barking

What To Do When Dog Keeps Shaking Their Head

Pet parents should try to consider what activities they did before noticing your furball shaking their head.

Maybe you took them for a swim, played on the beach or hay, or just came from a bath. 

It's also possible that your dog may already need their ears cleaned.

Dirty ears can also cause frequent head shaking as dirt and debris can be itchy. 

Are you unsure about how frequently to clean your dog's ears?

A good basic guideline is once each month.

Pups that often swim or breeds with floppy ears may require weekly or biweekly ear cleanings.

Ensure that your dog's ears are completely dry after swimming or bathing.

Some dog breeds, like Shih Tzus and Poodles, have hair in the ear canal, which needs to be pulled out frequently to avoid infection and irritation. 

Here are the easy ear-cleaning steps by the American Kennel Club:

dog keeps shaking head
  1. Gather all your supplies:  gauze or cotton balls, a dog ear-cleaning solution, and a towel.

    If your dog is particularly furry, a grooming brush helps untangle your pup's fur.

    It would be best to do your ear-cleaning process over a furniture cover to avoid getting fur all over the place.

    Add a treat so your canine has something to look forward to and be more obedient.

  2. Fill your dog's ear canal with ear drops recommended by a veterinarian.

    Gently massage the base of your pooch's ear for about 30 seconds. 

    You will hear a wet sound as the product removes buildup and debris.

    The applicator tip of the ear cleaning solution should not touch your dog's ear flap to avoid contamination and possible bacterial infection.

    Remember that excessive moisture from the ear cleaner may also worsen your pup's condition.

  3. Your pup might need to shake his head due to the liquid, so make sure to have the towel ready.

    Use the towel to clean him and cover yourself from the spray.
    Grab your gauze or cotton ball to wipe the ear canal.

    Make sure to go as deep as one knuckle to avoid pushing any remaining dirt or debris further into the ear.

    During cleaning, stop and call your veterinarian if your dog seems to be in pain.

  4. lint roller will also be an excellent investment to help remove the excess fur from your clothes.

    Dogs naturally dry their ears as a part of their daily routine.

    Then again, if you observe that there's still constant head shaking even after cleaning your dog's ears, you may need to get your pet to a vet for a check-up.

    The vet may clean your dog's ears, any extra fur will be trimmed, and medication will be prescribed.

    Usually, an antibiotic rinse is applied to the ears after cleaning.

    You should also ask for an allergy test if your dog has experienced multiple ear infections.
dog keeps shaking head


Though the occasional head shake in dogs is normal, it's always a good idea to observe your Fluffy Friend whenever you feel that he is exhibiting abnormal behavior.

In fact, abnormal behaviors in dogs are a cause for concern.

We cannot stress the importance of early diagnosis and treatment for canines that exhibit chronic head shaking.

Your dog may experience discomfort and distress due to the majority of the diseases mentioned earlier. 

Proper veterinary care can prevent more serious health conditions in addition to reducing discomfort and irritation.

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Here are some useful products in relation to this blog post:

MrFluffyFriend - Anti-Anxiety Furniture Cover Deluxe

MrFluffyFriend - Anxiety Relieving Pet Bed

MrFluffyFriend - Portable Lint Brush

MrFluffyFriend - 2-in-1 Grooming Brush


  • Three year old Lab/ Poodle cross is anxiously pacing around dining room table when company is near .by. Not onboard with Veterinary advised anti- anxiety drugs.
    Please advise.

    Carole J Laramie
  • Thanks for that, I have noticed my puppy wipes his mouth and or cleanses it by rubbing after a puppy pellet and when he has come out of long grass, so I am guessing he has allergies. I will take him to the vet. Thanks for the insight. Zofia

  • Very Instructional! Thank you very much.

    Rosa Castellanos
  • Hi thanks for the article why dogs shake .
    My two dogs are quite in the car but always shake their whole body once out of the car .
    Most probably relieving stress form the journey then .
    Ho I bought one of your stress dog beds and patch loves it help him settle into our family as he is a rescue dog from RSPCA .


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