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Head Pressing In Dogs: Why You Should Be Concerned

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on September 28, 2018

Head pressing in dogs is a worrying symptom that may indicate your pup is suffering from a serious medical condition. Dogs that head press typically stand or sit with their head hung low facing a wall, corner, or piece of furniture.

In most cases they forcefully push the top of their head against the hard surface, but some may just stand very close.

If your dog appears to be head pressing, see your veterinarian right away!

In the following video, Dr. Karen Becker of Mercola Healthy Pets explains the possible causes of head pressing and how you can recognize it in your pet.

Recognizing head pressing in dogs:

Head pressing is a compulsive behavior. The dog will push his or her head against an object for an extended period of time, or over and over again. Some will move along the length of a wall or piece of furniture until they reach a corner and become “stuck” with their head pressed against it.

As noted by Dr. Becker, head pressing is not to be confused with normal attention-seeking or playful behavior. Just as cats often “head butt” their humans, many dogs press against their owners for affection or rub their heads and faces against furniture during play. This behavior is very different than the medical condition of head pressing.

Related: 10 Best Dog Doors

Depending on the underlying cause, head pressing dogs may also experience:

  • abnormal vocalization
  • compulsive pacing and/or circling
  • problems with balance
  • disorientation
  • behavior changes
  • visual problems
  • seizures
  • trauma to the head or eyes from compulsive head pressing

Causes of head pressing in dogs:

Head pressing is typically caused by diseases/injuries of the brain or problems with the liver. These may include:

  • Stroke
  • Brain Tumors
  • Head Trauma
  • Damage to the forebrain and thalamus
  • Encephalitis
  • Exposure to Toxins
  • Infections of the nervous system, such as rabies or a fungal infection
  • Metabolic or glandular disorders
  • Liver shunt
  • Hepatic or renal encephalopathy (blood-borne toxins have crossed the blood-brain barrier)

Diagnosing the underlying cause of head pressing in dogs can be difficult, so it is important to provide your veterinarian with a thorough health history. Treatments vary depending on the diagnosis, but the prognosis is typically better with early intervention.

Be sure to seek medical attention at the first sign of head pressing and its accompanying symptoms!


H/T to Mercola Healthy Pets

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