Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Don't Ignore This Odd Canine Behavior: Head Pressing

Head pressing indicates a serious problem in dogs.

There are a few behaviors that you should know to watch out for if you have dogs. These are things that, if you see your dog doing them, you will need to get him to the veterinarian right away. One such behavior is head pressing.

What Is Head Pressing in Dogs?

Head pressing is when a dog places the top of his head or forehead into a wall or other object and pushes. He does this over and over, in a compulsive fashion or simply stands in the same place doing it for a long time.

What Does Canine Head Pressing Mean?

A dog that is head pressing has experienced a serious problem with his brain or nervous system. Some possible causes include:

  • Brain tumor
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Head trauma
  • Infection of the nervous system (rabies is one such infection)

Other Signs of Neurologic Disorders

A dog that is head pressing often has other signs of a problem going on, too. Some of these signs may include:

  • Increased vocalization
  • Circling obsessively in one direction
  • Ataxia, or wobbliness
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures

Head Pressing in Dogs Is an Emergency

If your dog suddenly begins head pressing, get him to the veterinarian right away. The doctor will take a history from you and do a thorough examination, including a neurologic exam.

Blood tests and a urinalysis will be done to look for signs of infection and to evaluate liver and kidney function.

Further testing such as a CT scan or MRI will probably be necessary.

What Is the Treatment for Canine Head Pressing?

The treatment for head pressing in dogs varies depending on the cause. A diagnosis is necessary to know what the treatment will be. Medicines or surgery may be required.

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