Question for dog people: Why is my dog shaking her head?


In the Brooder
11 Years
Apr 18, 2008
It's med sized beloved mixed breed female who's 10 yrs old, woke my hubby and I up (VERY unlike her) by shaking her head every so often (the noise of her collar/tags when she shakes). She's had ear infections off and on in the past...always related to allergies. She's also been bitten by a flea...the vet honestly just found one!...about a year ago...may have been around this time, don't remember for sure, but had a horribe allergic reaction that time. No ear infections or problems recently though. We had noticed earlier this week that my hubby's large dog, who she's best pals w/and is her constant companion, was itching put some flea ointment on him, seems to be much better. Because she's sensitive and often is allergic easily...I wondered if I should put flea medication on her too? I looked at her ears...they aren't warm to the touch like they often are when she has a infection....cleaned them...could tell they were sensitive to her but not very dirty. Other than the head shaking, she's acting 100% normal...and has a cold noise and everything else seems fine. Could it be a flea reaction possibly? Or something else? We (like everyone out there!) are on a very tight budget these days...I really would like to solve this issue on my own, especially if it's minor, so to not spend the money at the Vet's office. Any advice?


12 Years
Jun 4, 2007
Western MA
What breed of dog is she? Since she is prone to ear infections, i would guess it might be one stirring.
In some breeds it can actually be the ear hairs tickling if they are touching just right. Is she digging at her ear, or just shaking? I hope you are able to figure it out without the costly vet visit.


11 Years
Jun 14, 2008
I have heard that yearly vaccinations cause skin irritation, and that the 3 year rabbies shot is the only one they need. This information was initially given to me by the woman who sold me my puppy, but you can find it online. Here is one lady with a lot to say on skin irritation in dogs RT vaccinations (an other things):

most places do recommend yearly vaccinations and boosters though. Im not sure what to make of it, I dont doubt that some dogs have reactions to vaccines. Anyway, hope that helps.

(here's a link to actual vets: )
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11 Years
May 23, 2008
i have St. bernards and they are prone to ear problems in the past, here's what we do:
1) rinse the ears out with a warm water mild peroxide ear wash (use a turkey baster to gently squirt it in and drain out) or you can use the OTC swimmers ear wash.
2) wipe the ear area dry and apply some ear mite medicine if it's mites.
3) if it's a smelly/stinky smell it's probably yeast infection and we apply jock itch powder for a week once a day. usually clears up in a week.
4) keep the hair around her ear canal trimmed down and wipe the ear understide down once a day - we do this so often down it's just habit.


11 Years
Apr 16, 2008
Northeast, MA
My lab has food and environmental allergies and gets very itchy ears when they start up, shaking his head and rubbing his ears on the ground. Not sure if this would show up all of a sudden in an older dog but our vet said to give him benadryl, 1mg per pound (most tablets are 25 mg) twice a day. I would check with your vet to make sure though. Good luck!


THE Delaware Blue Hen
12 Years
Feb 21, 2007
Home Of The Delaware Blue Hen
Is it shaking like they would when they shake off water? Or is it a steady yes or no kind of shaking? Some dogs can get head tremors. Some breeds are more prone to it than others for example, Dobermans and Boxers are very prone to it. Any breed can get them, but it looks like they are sitting there normal, but with an involuntary yes or no movement. My Dobe had them when he was younger and his sister did too, but the vet said it isn't anything to worry about and most dogs will have them once or twice, sometimes more sometimes less.

It's just another all depends on what kind of shaking it is.

If it is a shake where he is flopping his head back and forth, then I agree with the above posts, either earmites or infection!


Resistance is futile
11 Years
Mar 21, 2008
If it has floppy ears, it is most likely bacteria...apparently dogs do not get mites as often as cats and most cases are bacteria, (or so I've been told) and is similar to swimmers ear... because the ears are floppy the moisture gets trapped inside and bacteria grows.... my FILs dogs all have it (lab mixes) and my own dog, pit bull, gets it from time to time... treated with a medicated wash and cleaning.

But, my vet tech friend says it's important to have it checked to make sure you're treating the right thing or you're wasting time and money.

re-reading the post..... is like a strange slight head bobble.... not a real shake... but like an uncontrolled head shake like a tremor??? My dog has these also.... minor seizures, common in bully and boxer breeds apparently. Does your dog look like she might have some bully or boxer in her? Sometimes when something scares him or excites him too much he has ones where his whole body shakes like he's cold and his mouth tightens like a smile.. then he vomits and then he's fine. It took about 6 months for them to progress to that point, but over the last year, they haven't gotten any worse or more frequent.

Here's a video of his head shaking.... sometimes it's stronger...

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11 Years
Jul 17, 2008
DC Region
Dogs already prone to ear infections who begin shaking their heads violently or persistently should see a vet. Chronic infections can set deep into the middle ear and be "apparently" clean from the exterior.

Serious middle ear damage can cause deafness or require a surgical fix called ablation - which means the dog will never get another infection (ablation is to OPEN) they open the dog's ear canal and surgically fix it open so it cannot infect again. But it makes the dog deaf in that ear, permanently.

Don't guess about the cause of an infection. Get it tested and looked at. If you delay the right treatment with a generic or wrong treatment, serious issues can develop.

Missing a developing inner ear infection or treating a bacterial one with something for mites, or yeast or simple otitis externa is a bad thing.


In the Brooder
11 Years
Apr 18, 2008
Her head shaking is still going on (it's 8:30am)...but it's only occasional. Otherwise, her behavior is completely normal. She slept through the rest of the morning w/o much shaking. It's more a tickle in the ear type of shake of the head. Which makes me wonder if it's ear infection coming on...these are somewhat common w/her although I don't remember her shaking her head like this...instead she'd try to scratch her ear a lot. I decided to put some flea medication on her, so did that. I also had some left over ointment from the Vet's from last year's ear exp date on it. So I cleaned her ears and put some of that in both ears. I'll wait til tomorrow and see if it's still going on or if she's better. If not, I guess I'll have to call the vet

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