Head shaking it’s perfectly normal dog behavior unless it’s frequent and lasts too long. There could be plenty of reasons for your dog doing so, and consistent shaking surely means it’s time to do a vet visit.

When to Worry

For a dog, without fingers and thumbs, there’s only one way to get something out of his ears: shaking his head. When something like water, dirt, or an insect gets into the ear canal, this movement it’s a great way to expel it.

But what happens when this behavior becomes frequent and intensive? Well, here you have a list of possible candidates:

Canine Otitis Externa

If your dog has red, swollen, and/or smelly ears, or you hear a crackling noise, it’s time to visit the vet.

This is often caused by ear mites, trapped water, and sloppy ears. The inflammation requires medical treatment and won’t disappear on its own. If not treated properly it will worsen and may affect the dog’s hearing.

Also, it’s good to mention that once a dog had otitis externa will become susceptible to having it again.


One of the most common reasons for dogs shaking their heads non-stop are the infections caused by bacteria or fungi. Look at the flap of the ear, if you find redness, swelling, or secretion, it’s time to go to the vet.

While this isn't as deep as an otitis case, it still can become worse and take the ear canal, so don’t let that stay, treat it asap to avoid worse problems.


Itchiness caused by allergy can be the cause of your dog’s behavior. This allergic condition can be triggered by many agents. It could be something in your dog’s food or in the environment such as pollen, or mold spores.

If the dog shaking is accompanied by hair loss, itchy skin, chewing on his feet, or rubbing on the face, a vet can help with the diagnosis of allergy and tell if it’s whether food or environment. Lastly, give your dog a diet or special care products that will reduce the allergic symptoms.


In this condition, the blood vessels of the ear flaps swell up and may cause the ears to get red or purple spots, skin scabs, cysts of fluid, hair loss, and itchiness.

For the majority of cases of vasculitis the cause it’s unknown. However, sometimes it’s due to abnormal immune system response. The best and only way to know what to do is to consult your vet.


This can occur when a pool of blood is formed between the skin and the cartilage of the ear flap. Can be followed by skin decoloring, bleeding, and swelling.

These hematomas are often self-caused by rough scratching or shaking head, and it’s important to treat it fast in advance to avoid any kind of ear infection. This behavior is commonly caused by an underlying condition, so make sure that when you visit the vet to treat the hematoma, the dog also gets some studies to find out the source of this.

Trauma or Damage

Sometimes doggies can be too harsh while playing and that will lead to occasionally getting injured. Those injuries can be on the ears and can be serious.

If you notice some behavioral changes such as lethargic, nauseous, or sore, you guessed it, time for a vet visit.


Some Other Serious Causes Related to Head Shaking

We listed the more common causes for a dog his shaking head, but there are other few that deserve a mention because they can be very serious like:

  • Foreign objects in the ear canal.
  • Inflammatory diseases.
  • Neurological disorder.

Also if your dog has recurrent ear problems, you may want to check him for underlying causes like abnormal anatomy or hypothyroidism.

Can I Help?

Yes, we might be a little insistent throughout the article but, all of the reasons and causes stated here deserve visiting the veterinary, so the answer is clear if your dog has been consistently shaking his head, take him to the vet as fast as possible to make sure it doesn’t get worse.