PetMeds® Frequent Head Shaking in Dogs

A common complaint of canine guardians is why does their dog shake their head all of the time.  The most accurate explanation of such a problem usually resides in some sort of underlying allergy. The allergies can be due to inhalant/contact allergies and/or food allergies. If the problem is seasonal, then allergens to molds, grasses, trees, dander, house dust, mites, etc are all possible. If the problem is non-seasonal, then we are usually thinking more of a food allergy. Seasonal allergens to molds, grasses, trees, dander, house dust, mites, etc are all possible causes of allergic reactions which can cause head shaking

Many times pets will develop secondary yeast or bacterial infections of the ear canals, which may appear as red, ulcerated ears with varying amounts of discharge or odor from the ears. Often pets will need prescription antibiotics such as Mometomax or Panalog.  On other occasions, great products like Zymox-Otic HC can help as well.  Since many of these pets have allergies, trials with various anthistamines such as Benadryl or Chlorphenirimine can be tried by an animal guardian to see if they may alleviate some of the head shaking that is so annoying to guardian and pet.

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  1. How safe is an antibiotic otic solution normally for humans for use on an 8 month old lab mix. The solution is neomycin and polymyxin B sulfates w/hydrocortisone. Each mL contains neomycin sulfate equivalent to 3.5 mg neomycin base. Polymyxin B equivalent to 10,000 polymyxin B units and hydrocortisone 10 mg (1%). The vehicle contains potassium metabisulfate 0.1%. Glycerin, propylene glycol, hydrochloric acid and water.

    Would this work until we can afford to get him to a vet?

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 20, 2011 at 6:20 pm · Reply

      This is fine to try until vet exam and assessment. Also consider zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds.

  2. Pingback: What Is Causing My Dog’s or Cat’s Head Shaking? « Uncategorized « Cat Dog Cure

  3. You don’t mention another very significant cause of head shaking — getting fox tails caught in ears, which are very costly to remove by a Vet.

    What measures to you recommend to dog owners to prevent fox tails from getting down into the ear canal or even the nose?

    How can we get fox tails out before they get down too deep?


    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 27, 2012 at 1:55 pm · Reply

      I dont see many foxtails in my area but you do bring up excellent point of these getting caught in ears in areas where they are prominent. Avoiding exposure is the best prevention. There are probably some excellent articles on this on the internet which you can google. In cases where heavy exposure occurs, vet exams are most likely needed for safe and thorough removal.

  4. can i clean my dogs ears out with peroxide?

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 19, 2012 at 12:09 am · Reply

      PEroxide is ok to use but I would prefer a commercial ear cleaner like epiotic from 1800petmeds.

  5. Thank you so much for the information!!!!


    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm · Reply

      Not sure what you mean by bad human gentak. I would check with your local vet on whether you can use this topical antibiotic.

  7. is it ok if my dog eats my cats food and won’t eat her’s.

  8. I have an 8 yr. old Chihuahua, Paco, he shakes his head but there’s no signs of ear mites, no redness or discharge. Do you suggest the ear cleanser only at this point because my Vet has never told me he has ear mites. I read where you say it could be an allergy, how much Benadryl should I give him and how often? Paco weighs approximately 12 to 14 lbs. Thanks Doc

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 12, 2013 at 11:25 pm · Reply

      Try one teaspoon of liquid childens benadryl or 1/2 of a 25 mg tablet twice daily. If no help, see vet for evaluation.

  9. My 11-year old rat terrier Rosie stated shaking her head today. It was sudden; i.e. no progression into the behaviour. Because her ear canals are small, I cannot see if her ears are reddened, however she has no discharge, and there is no bad odour. There are waxy-ish dander flakes in her outer ear. I don’t know how much of this is normal. Her ears must itch, as she appreciates deep ear rubs. Any ideas? Thank you in advance.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 3, 2014 at 11:47 pm · Reply

      Could be allergies either inhalent/contact allergies and/or food allergies as underlying cause, which can lead to secondary yeast or bacterial infections. Best to have vet assessment to sort this out

  10. Dr. Dym, my frenchie keeps shaking his head. He has had an ear infection a couple times since the end of last year. I’ve given him Posatex Otic Suspension twice a day for the past couple days. Should I I follow it up with Benadryl as well? (I have a vet appt scheduled for tomorrow)

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 2, 2014 at 10:10 pm · Reply

      Hi Kim. Sounds like a good plan. Also consider great topical ear medicine like zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds, which can help with allergic ear inflammation, as well as secondary bacterial or yeast infections of ear

  11. Will the over the counter female vaginal yeast infection medicine, like Monostat work to clear up a yeast infection in my 70lb pitbull?

  12. My dogs eye looks as if it has been hit with somthing , is thier
    anything i can do at home?
    I dont have the money to go to a vet!

  13. My Beagle has allergies and has been getting treatment for all of the near 8 years we’ve had him.. We have gone through the head shaking which did lead us to believe he needed to see the vet for allergies.. He did test positive for many allergies .. since then We have been treating him with allergy shots and certainly will continue throughout his life.. My purpose for responding to this article is to say.. allergies in dogs are no different than in humans.. get your Dog and or Cats checked .. You will be glad you did in either case.. Positive or Negative..

    Good Luck, Gail Doyle

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