Home / Dog Health / Why is My Dog Scratching Ear and Shaking Head? Causes and Treatment

Why is My Dog Scratching Ear and Shaking Head? Causes and Treatment

Imagine the distress your canine may be going through when you realise that it is scratching the ears and continue shaking the head. There could be something bothering his ears causing all this discomfort and chances are that the dog could be hurting.

Dogs do not have fingers to probe the goings on inside the ear, the best you can do to help relieve the dog’s pain is to take a trip to the nearest veterinary doctor.

What Could this Mean?

why is dog scratching ear and shaking head
dog scratching ear and shaking head

The symptoms displayed by such habits are a direct indication of foreign bodies invading the dog’s ear.  The cause of itchy dog-ears may not be obvious because the open nature of their ears may harbor different foreign bodies. A simple problem such as too much wax or an object stuck in the ear canal is easy to treat. Some dog breeds like the Cocker Spaniels with characteristic floppy ears are prone to ear infections and other problems of the ear.

Confirm if there are other causes of this head-shaking syndrome such as hair loss, hotspots and the presence of bad odor or discharges. Leave nothing to chance because you will not be at ease if your dog is not relaxed.

We will look at some of these causes that force a dog would shake its head continuously. In as much as some cases are manageable at home, it is important if you get to know these causes first hand.

1.      Grass Seeds

Grass seeds are common and are found on the inside of the ear canals of dogs walking in the countryside. Your vet will help you find grass seeds using an otoscope, which has a lens, a funnel, and a magnifying glass.

2.      Bacteria and Yeast Infections

Bacterial infections in dogs affect the outer skin lining the inside of ear canals. Bacteria find this area moist and conducive for germs to grow

3.      Ear Mites

Ear mites are a common cause of dog scratching ears. They are located inside the dog’s ear or around it. The most common ear mite is the octedectes, which are tiny, and has a lifespan of three weeks. The ear mite may also attack other parts of your pet’s body such as the tail, paws, and head. The pet causes a lot of irritation and inflammation by sucking blood. Every bite from the mite is the reason why dog continuously itches.

4.      Fleas

Flea is the master of irritation. This parasite comes causes a lot of pain to your pet. The moment you notice the presence of fleas contact your vet office immediately for quick action, any delays may lead to anaemia. Your dog will not stop shaking its head neither will it stop scratching until all the fleas are gone.

5.      Foreign Objects Lodged in Ear

When a foreign object is lodged inside the ear, your dog will be uncomfortable. You cannot rule out things like twigs, grass, and any loose material. As the objects rub inside the ear due to movements, it may leave a scratch through the ear canal possibly damaging the eardrum.

Try to remove any visible objects physically if possible. If after removal, there is any treatment after removal, please consult the veterinary to avoid further complications.

6.      Allergic Reactions

Allergies in dogs may also affect your dog and is especially evident in pets that are sensitive to some food or bathing using a specific soap. There are cases where the dog’s skin will be exposed to an allergen causing irritation and inflammation. The most common allergens at home are found in pesticides used in your garden, detergents, etc. allergies caused by food are from wheat, pork, and dairy products.

As a pet owner, ensure that you keep the environment clean for you and your pet friends. The common areas that you will notice allergic reactions in dogs are the ears, feet, and tummy. Dogs seem to lick the itchy areas, and you may notice some reddish or brownish colour.

7.      Fly Bites

A bite on your dog’s ear can also be caused by fly bites. When this happens, there is a sudden urge from the dog to scratch the

ear while at the same time shaking its head. The whining produced when scratching and shaking head is an indicator that there is a problem.

The sores caused by fly bites cause more itching and pain. When the fly bites settle on the dog’s ear for long, they form a crust that leaves the sores open. Failing to attend to your dog at this stage leads to the spread of maggots that can cause serious and severe scratching.

The moment you notice any sign of ear infection, acting first to get rid of the infection before it worsens can save your dog from so much pain.

8.      Ear Vasculitis

Some breeds such as Dachshunds are quite susceptible to ear vasculitis, which is an inflammation of the pinna and ear flap. This condition may be because of an immune disorder or even fly bites.  You will notice this problem with the thickening of the outer ear. Dogs showing signs of this ailment do a lot of head shaking.

9.      Ear Hematomas

When the dogs shake their heads, the thinner blood vessels lining the ear may break open and leave a swelling medically referred to as a hematoma. The lump formation under the skin irritates the dogs and the more they shake the heads, the more problems the dog is likely to face.

How do You Deal with Dog Itch Ears?

Most of these dog itchy ears and head shaking concerns are a thing a dog owner can handle. Here are some remedies that you can try before seeking specialised help from the veterinary clinic.

·         Check the Ears

Keep your eyes on your pet’s ears and note how they behave. This will help you note any small changes in the dog’s activity and lifestyle. When head shaking and itching goes beyond normal, it is good to check on what could be causing the distress.

Ears inspection demands that you check both the interior and exterior surfaces. Take away any noticeable foreign elements included excess wax if present.

·         Use of Antihistamine

If the dog keeps itching and scratching the ear and no immediate cause is established, most vets recommend a suitable anti-histamine to cool off the itchy area giving your dog a temporary relief. In such cases, you will still need to visit the veterinarian to ascertain the main cause of itchiness and restlessness.

·         Corticosteroids

Sometimes dogs need some relief when bothered by the scratching and head shaking. This drug has anti-inflammatory effect that is given as a prescription and is available over the counter. An alternative is the use of hydrocortisone cream that needs an application on the itchy ears or any areas with a burning sensation.

·         Elimination

If your pack of dogs is under attack by parasites like mites and ticks, look for ways of getting rid of them as soon as possible to safeguard their ears from massive attacks. Eliminating all parasites is a good sign for the dogs that want to keep enjoying a comfortable life.

Ensure that your compound is free from parasites to keep your dogs free from harm and accord them a healthy life.

·         Get Rid of Foreign Bodies

The moment you confirm the presence of an object in your dog’s ear, it advisable to dislodge it immediately. Consider removing such objects if they are visible and will not cause further damage. Objects that are deep inside the ear canal need the expertise of a professional veterinary doctor.

How to Clean Your Dogs Ear

Good health is good for both humans and their pets, cleaning dogs ensures good health at all times. Failure to remove ear wax will provide a nest for microorganism development. Proper cleaning means that no more itching for your best friend.

Here are some routines that you can carry out on a daily basis to make sure your dog is better groomed.

  • Use a mild Ph. balance liquid that should evaporate immediately after contact with the ear. Start with the outer ear then proceed inwards.
  • Use a cleaning liquid to clean the ear canal. The best tool is a bottle with a suitable nozzle to pour the fluid into the ear drop by drop.
  • Massage the outer ears using a cotton ball
  • Allow the dog to shake its head as it helps remove excess water. Then clean off any visible wax.

Do this cleaning process as instructed by the veterinary and your dogs will be happy to have you around.

There is nothing wrong with giving your dog a special ear treatment by letting the vet examine them occasionally. It is easy to note that same ear problem for your dog are caused by different parasites. This explains the reason why you need to get an accurate diagnosis and get your dog appropriate treatment. Remember that signs of secondary symptoms such as hair loss, or itching body could be a possible ailment not related to ear scratching and head shaking.

We believe that the article has been helpful and that your dog should now live a comfortable life without having to shake or scratch its ears.

Further References:

  1. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/ear-health/
  2. https://vethelpdirect.com/vetblog/2013/06/04/dog-shaking-head/
  3. pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/ear-mites-dogs


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One comment

  1. In addition to head shaking, dogs with otitis may have red and swollen ears. Your dog may moan with relief when you rub his ears, or yelp in pain from a light touch.

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