Dogs will usually shake their ears after swimming or passing through a puddle of water. If your dog keeps shaking ears, however, it in most cases has got to do with something bothersome in their ears. With no fingers to remove the ailing factor, shaking the ears is a dog’s next best shot. If you have been googling “dog shaking ears” worried that your canine friend is dealing with an issue of some sort, then keep reading to discover common causes of ear shaking in dogs along with treatments and home remedies for the same.
Dog Shaking Ears – Should You Be Concerned?
Don’t close your eyes and dismiss it when you see your dog shaking ears. This is especially true for persistent cases with no obvious cause such as exposure to water. If left untreated, the behavior of your dog shaking ears could expose your dog to or lead to the following problems:
- Pain: Chronic ear inflammation or infection can become very painful for your canine friend.
- Hearing loss or impairment: Every single day you ignore your dog as it keeps shaking their ears could be putting them at risk of ruptured eardrum not to mention permanent hearing loss. Don’t be a careless dog parent who ends up regretting later on. Take action.
- Hematomas: Aggressive and repeated ear shaking can cause a blood blister on the ear known as aural hematoma to form. This occurs when the blood vessels in the pinna of your dog’s ear break open. It often causes even more ear shaking. Surgery is usually necessary to remove aural hematomas.
Underlying Causes for Dog Shaking Ears
Now that you know what implications ignoring shaking of ears in dogs, you are probably interested in knowing what causes this behavior. Explained below are some of the most common reasons for dog shaking ears:
Ear infection is one of the most common reasons for ear shaking in dogs. Both bacteria and yeast infections can inflict a dog’s ears. Even a mild yeast infection is enough to cause frequent shaking of the ears.
Predisposing factors for dog ear infection include ear mites, wax buildup, excess hair growth in the ear canal, hypothyroidism, foreign objects such as grass awns, and allergies. Breeds with drooping ears such as springer spaniels, retrievers, and setters are also more prone to ear infections. Their longer ear flaps provide a dark – often moist – an environment that is suitable for yeast and bacterial growth.
In addition to your dog shaking ears, an ear infection is notable for the following signs and symptoms:
- Scratching the ears
- Reddened ear flaps
- Swelling of the ear canal
- An offensive odor from the ear
- A discharge that is brown, yellow or blood-tinged
- Tilting the head to one side
- Hair loss in and around the ears
- Loss of balance
- The ear can also feel very hot to the touch.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Dog Ear Infection
If an ear infection is suspected, your veterinarian will start by examining the inside of the ear canal and eardrum with the help of special equipment. This may require the use of anesthesia to alleviate pain. This is usually followed by a cytology to analyze the debris inside the ear canal. Once the offending bacteria is ascertained, appropriate treatment is the given.
Thyroid function may also be tested if an underactive thyroid is suspected as an underlying cause for the ear infection.
Treatment typically involves professional cleaning and topical or oral medication.
Foreign Debris in the Ear Canal
If your dog keeps shaking his ear but there are no signs of ear infections, chances are that it has some foreign debris trapped in the ear. Unlike a human ear which is straight from the opening all the way to the eardrum, a dog’s ear is L-shaped. The first vertical part of the ear canal leading from the ear opening is preceded by a second horizontal section leading to the eardrum.
This ear structure makes dogs susceptible to having foreign debris and moisture trapped inside the vertical part of the ear. Springer Spaniels and other dog breeds with drooping ears tend to experience this problem more commonly.
Among the foreign debris that commonly gets lodged in dogs’ ear canal are grass seeds and foxtails. If you have reasons to suspect foxtails, get immediate help. Those pesky little things can travel inside your dog’s body and wreak a health havoc.
Ear Mites and Ticks
Ear mites are very irritating and can as well explain why you see your dog shaking ears at night or every now and then. These tiny parasites should be suspected in the following symptoms are observed:
- Scratching of ears
- Reddish brown or dark-brown, coffee-like discharge in the ear canal
- You may be able to see tiny white specks moving inside the ears. These are ear mites themselves.
- Foul odor in dog’ ears
Although ear mites are relatively uncommon in dogs as dogsnaturallymagazine.com says, they can cause severe ear damage if left untreated. There are several over the counter remedies for ear mites. These are widely available in pet supplies stores and online. Of these anti-parasitic medications, Selamectin (available under names such as Revolution and Stronghold) is perhaps the most popular.
According to dogsnaturallymagazine.com, pouring a few drops of mineral oil or essential oils such as neem oil can help.
For ear mite treatment, your veterinarian may as well clean your dog’s ears to eliminate any discharge as well as prescribe some antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory medications.
A dog can also keep shaking the ears if a tick is attached to it.
Is your dog shaking ears frequently even though the ears are clean and there are no obvious signs of infection such as discharge? It could be a case of ear vasculitis. This is an inflammation of the blood vessels inside the ear flaps (pinna). It is seen more in some breeds of dogs including Dachshunds and Jack Russell terriers.
Fly bites, frostbite, and immune disorder are listed among the most common underlying factors for ear vasculitis in dogs. The condition typically begins with the thickening of the outer margins of the ear. This then leads to ulceration (formation of ulcers or wounds) and crusting. It is common for the crusts to break open and bleed as the dog keeps shaking the affected ears.
It is also common for a dog to keep shaking its ears if it has polyps or any other solid masses growing inside the ear canal.
Allergic reactions can cause your dog to develop itchy ears and give an endless urge to shake or scratch the ears. This usually results from an exposure to allergens through inhalation or ingestion. Common dog allergens include pollen, cigarette smoke, mold spores, feathers, dander, perfumes, cleaning products, and rubber.
With inhalation or ingestion of these allergens, the dog’s immune system reacts by fighting the same through s series of reactions that culminate in various allergy symptoms including itchy ears and ear infections. Dogs can also be allergic to certain foods. Soy, wheat, and dairy products are some good examples.
If you see your dog shaking ears constantly, your best course of action is to have your veterinarian examine her. Your veterinarian will help you rule out ear infections and other serious ear problems and prescribe appropriate treatment.
- Care.com: Dog Shaking Head? What Could Be The Cause?
- Cesarsway.com: Most common food allergies in dogs
- Dogsnaturallymagazine.com: Ear Health
- Medicinenet.com: My Dog is Shaking His Head
- WebMD: Allergies in Dogs
- WebMD: Ear Infections in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment
- Vetstreet.com: Why Does My Dog… Shake His Head All of the Time?