Georgia Simpson, London-based vet from Humphrey & Me, the first health and wellbeing membership for dogs, explains why your dog’s head shaking could be a sign of something more sinister.
Have you noticed your dog shaking his head? Or is he scratching at the side of his head or ears? Shaking his head isn’t a funny way for him to say “no” to you, it is normally an indication something is bothering them and in most cases this is an itchy ear. Itchy or painful ears can often indicate an ear infection.
Other symptoms of an ear infection in your dog are bad smelling ears, an ear discharge or red discolouration of the outer ear. Please don’t ignore any of these signs! Have your dog’s ears assessed by your Veterinarian, who will examine a swab of the ear under a microscope to see what bugs (bacteria, yeast or parasites) may be causing the ear infection.
Some common causes of ear infections in dogs include:
- Skin allergies – your dog’s ears are lined by skin and if they have a skin allergy this can cause a hot and inflamed ear canal and formation of an infection
- Hairy ears – lots of hair down the canal will also make a hot humid environment which is the perfect one for bugs (yeast and bacteria) to grow and multiply
- Ear mites – these can be quite common in outdoor cats which then infect their canine companion through close contact. Ear mites can be viewed under a microscope after your vet takes a swab of the ear canal. They are treated with a spot on parasite treatment or ear drops.
- Swimming – water trapped down the ear canal can lead to infections
Infections left untreated can be very detrimental and lead to narrowing or bleeding of the ear canal, perforation of the eardrum or an aural haematoma forming. An aural haematoma is a collection of blood and serum on the ear pinna (outer ear) which then requires surgery to be drained and corrected.
If your pooch gets mucky ears regularly use a dog specific ear cleaner once every two to four weeks to maintain clean ears.