Dog Shaking Head After Grooming [When to see a Vet?]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely because you’ve just taken your furry friend to the groomer and noticed them shaking their head more than usual.

As a former veterinary technician and dog owner myself, I know how concerning this can be.

You may be wondering if your pup is in pain or if something is wrong with its ears. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

One possibility is that your dog’s ears were not properly dried after grooming. Moisture in the ear canal can lead to ear infections, which can be uncomfortable for your pup. Or your dog’s ears were irritated during the grooming process, causing them to shake its head in an attempt to relieve the discomfort.

In this post, I will detail all the reasons this might be happening and offer you some solutions before you decide if a trip to the vet is needed.

Quick note: You might be keen to learn about the most common dog grooming injuries too.

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5 Reasons for Your Dog Shaking Head After Grooming

Reasons for Your Dog Shaking Head After Grooming

1. Ear injury

It’s not impossible for your dog to have an ear injury after grooming.

Groomers have to cut the hair around your dog’s ears as part of grooming, and it sometimes causes tingling feelings in him that’ll make him move around, causing the scissors to nick his ear.

When an ear injury happens to your dog as he gets groomed, he’ll be shaking his head in an attempt to ease the burning feeling of being accidentally cut.

2. Mites in its ears

If your dog has mites in his ears, he’ll be shaking his head to get rid of the itchy and irritating feeling caused by the mites.

Your dog gets wet during grooming so some moisture accumulates in his ears.

Mites thrive on wet surfaces, and they can cause more irritation and even inflammation.

These parasites are also very contagious. If you bring your dog to a groomer who has just groomed a dog with mites, your dog might get infected.

3. Water got stuck

Just like humans when taking a bath, dogs can also get water stuck on their ears during grooming.

When water gets stuck in your dog’s ear, he’ll experience difficulty in hearing which can cause discomfort for an animal that greatly relies on hearing senses.

Your dog will keep shaking his head until the water stuck in his ears gets removed.

4. Ear infections

Ear infections are common among dogs, and they can cause severe itchiness and inflammation that can trigger your dog to keep shaking his head.

They manifest themselves in the form of yeast and bacterial infections that happen when your dog’s ears are always moist since germs thrive in such areas.

If your dog’s ears are red and inflamed with foul-smelling discharge, he is most likely suffering from an ear infection that’s causing him to shake his head after grooming.

5. Sensitivity to grooming products

Grooming products like shampoo, soap, or ear cleaners might cause sensitivity in your dog’s ear which can induce irritation.

When your dog is sensitive to the grooming products being used on him, he’ll shake his head to reduce the discomfort and irritations caused by those.

This is why it’s important to know which grooming products are suited for your dog since different groomers will use different ones.

Signs of Ear Irritation or Infection

Head shaking

Signs of ear irritation or infection are fairly easy to detect among dogs.

Head shaking is one of the usual things your dog does when his ear is irritated or infected.

This is because doing so is his desperate way of trying to shake off the uncomfortable feeling he is experiencing.

Head shaking is also your dog’s way of relieving the pressure he is feeling in his ears caused by the pain of the infection.

Scratching at the ears

If shaking his head doesn’t work, your dog will use his own paws just to scratch the irritation or infection that’s causing his ears to hurt or itch.

Ear infection or irritation is usually accompanied by itchiness since the bacteria that are dwelling in your dog’s ears get buried deep in his ear canals.

Redness or swelling

Ear infection or irritation is usually caused by mites or yeasts that cause inflammation to your dog’s ears.

When there is inflammation, the common physical change you’ll see in your dog’s ears is redness or swelling.

If your dog has floppy ears, turn each up and check if there’s any sign of redness or swelling since floppy ears are good at hiding infections.

Discharge or odor

Ear infection causes discharge or odor that won’t go unnoticed by any fur-parents.

The bacteria, mites, or whatever had caused such infection imparts a bad odor to your dog’s ear too.

This might be disgusting for you but you should know that discharge or odor is mostly present when there’s an ear infection or irritation.

Infections caused by water getting stuck on ears are commonly followed by a foul discharge that sometimes just oozes out of your dog’s ears.

Sensitivity to touch

Ear infection or irritation doesn’t only cause itchiness but also pain, so your dog will be sensitive to touch as even just a light pat on his ears will hurt him.

Your dog will constantly avoid any of your possible contact with his ears for the fear of feeling hurt.

He’ll try to keep his ears away from others as much as possible since he knows they’ll hurt when exposed to touch. 

Doggy says, you might be interested to read this too: I accidentally hit my dog in the head

What Should You Do if Your Dog Keeps Shaking Its Head After Grooming?

What Should You Do if Your Dog Keeps Shaking Its Head After Grooming?

Inspect the ears for signs of irritation or infection

When your dog keeps shaking his head after grooming, it’s best to inspect his ears for signs of irritation or infection.

This is to make sure that your dog is just shaking his head out of habit and not from any infection his ear is experiencing.

Avoid using the same grooming products if you’ve found out that a particular grooming product irritates your dog’s body parts.

Consult your vet about what product to use when grooming your dog to make sure that grooming will no longer cause him to shake his head relentlessly.

Take your dog to the vet

If your dog has been excessively shaking his head, and you’ve run out of ideas why he is doing that, it’s best to take him to the vet.

A vet will be able to run some exams on your dog to determine why he’s exhibiting such behavior.

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Preventative Measures for Better Ear Health

Regular ear cleaning

Your dog’s ears are so prone to yeast infection and mites infestation since they are constantly moist.

For better ear health, regularly clean your dog’s ears using appropriate tools. 

Don’t clean your dog’s ear with any sharp and rough objects since those will cause irritations.

If your dog doesn’t like you touching his ears, encourage him using a calm voice and giving treats.

Practice proper grooming techniques

Proper grooming techniques start with regularly checking your dog’s ears to make sure they aren’t infected or irritated.

Clean your dog’s ears with ear cleansers, and check for any wax buildup that may cause hearing problems.

Wash your dog with appropriate dog shampoo around his ears too! Some dogs don’t react well with particular shampoos, so make sure you’re using what’s suitable for your doggy.

Check your dog’s fur for fleas and ticks, especially the fur nearest to his ears that may get inside. 

Find a reputable groomer

If you can’t groom your doggy yourself, find a reputable groomer to do it.

Browse the internet for the nearest groomer in town with positive feedback from clients to make sure your doggy will be handled with care and expertise.

Check products for irritants or allergens.

Before using an ear cleaner or any grooming products, make sure that you’ve checked them for any irritants or allergens.

It’s important to recognize the products that contain irritants or allergens to avoid causing irritation, inflammation, and itchiness to your dog’s ears.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it normal for a dog to shake its head after cleaning its ears?

It’s normal for a dog to shake its head after cleaning its ears since it’s its way of clearing its ear canal with the ticklish feeling of the ear cleaner that just went through its ears. Shaking its head also relieves it from any discomfort that the ear cleaning may have caused.

Does my dog’s ears hurt after grooming?

If your dog’s groomer is careful in handling your dog, his ear won’t hurt after grooming. But if loose-cut hair or water gets into your dog’s ear, he’ll feel irritation or discomfort.

Can dogs get ear infections from groomers?

Groomers might accidentally expose dogs to ear infections if they aren’t careful in cleaning ears since ear injuries can cause inflammation or itchiness that may lead to infections. 

In Conclusion: Dog Shaking Head After Grooming

When a dog shakes its head after grooming, it’s usually nothing to worry about.

However, if you notice excessive shaking or other signs of discomfort, it’s important to take your pup to the vet for a checkup.

Remember to always keep your dog’s ears clean and dry after grooming to prevent any potential issues!

If you like this post, you might want to check out these other ones too:

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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