When it comes to Beagles, there’s nothing quite as adorable as seeing their ears flapping from one side to the other. Very often, dogs shake their head to relieve a minor itch, tickle, irritation, or sting, but sometimes, head shaking could also indicate more serious problems such as ear infections, ear mites, or ear injuries. Beagles have dropped ears, also known as pendant, which can make them more prone to such ear infections and irritations. So, when should you start to worry about your Beagle’s head shaking? Read on to find out more about what you can do to prevent your precious pup from this type of health concerns.
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The Root of the Behavior
There are a number of distinct possibilities that could be the reason for your Beagle shaking his head, however, the primary cause for the behavior relates to his own anatomy. Beagles are known for their cute, floppy ears, hanging down from the side of their head. The main problem with them is that they do not allow for air to circulate properly within the ear cavity, which in return, can lead to a series of ear infections. The most common symptoms of ear infection in Beagles include head shaking, scratching at the ears, thick wax, an odor coming from the ear, and in severe cases, a tilted head. You don’t have to worry about your pup shaking his head on occasion, but you do have to take action if the situation persists.
First of all, it’s important to understand what exactly determines your dog to shake their head. If you lift up the flap of your dog’s ear and see redness, swelling, or discharge, an infection is likely the cause. Much of this is due to the shape and size of the ears as they fall over the ear canal, which blocks air flow, creating a rather dark, moist environment in which bacteria tends to grow. In some rare cases, mites can also be the cause for the concern. Ear mites are the most widespread type of mite that infests dogs and are very transmittable, easily spreading from one animal to the other. Excess water and wax can also be an underlying issue for head shaking, leading to infection. Allergies can also play a big role in this. Symptoms of allergies in dogs typically include some combination of itchy skin, hair loss, as well as recurrent skin and ear infections. Excessive head shaking can also be caused by foreign objects that become lodged in the ear canal, inflammatory diseases, or even neurologic disorders.
Encouraging the Behavior
The questions you need to ask yourself if your Beagle won’t stop shaking his head are: does he have any evidence of an ear infection, are his ears swollen, has he been recently injured or suffered a head trauma, or does his balance seem unstable? All these questions will help you and your vet establish a clearer diagnosis and get him on the path to recovery as soon as possible. What is the best way to reduce ear infections in a Beagle? Prevention. This means that you have to take his daily grooming ritual very seriously. Careful cleaning can help prevent these potential problems and decrease the frequency of infections.
In general, a serious grooming session every 2 to 3 weeks can keep a Beagle's ears properly cleaned. You can also dry your Beagle’s ears after each bath and check for any visible foreign matters present. Use ear wipes to clean away dirt from the inside of the ear leather as well as the outer edge. Furthermore, avoid spraying or dumping water directly on your dog’s head during a bath. Instead, bathe his body from the neck down and wipe down his face and ears with a damp washcloth. You can also use ear bands or clean his ears with a drying solution post-swim as an alternative.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If the head shaking is caused by a food allergy, you can also try putting your pup on a diet that contains a single carbohydrate and a single source of protein that has never been fed to him before. For example, rice or potato combined with duck or venison. Continue the diet for a month or two and keep an eye on the symptoms. If they disappear or at least significantly improve, you have found your culprit. The veterinarian can diagnose environmental allergies through intradermal skin or blood testing as well. Furthermore, yeast infections of the ear can be reduced by eliminating or drastically minimizing the yeast and flour in your dog’s diet.
Whether it be due to ear infections, ear mites, ticks inside the ear, foreign bodies, or excess water, persistent head shaking indicates that the irritation is ongoing and needs to be addressed. If the behavior does not stop over the course of a day or two, take him to the vet as soon as you can. The only time you should enjoy watching your Beagle shake his head is in the passenger seat of your car… windows open.