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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 17931
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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my dog is shaking her head and is panting

Customer Question

my dog is shaking her head and is panting
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 4 years ago.

Hello, my name is Dr. Kara and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.

I am sorry to hear that Willow is shaking her head and panting.


Panting can be a sign of difficulty breathing and low oxygen but more commonly we see it caused by anxiety or discomfort.

Because she is shaking her head too I would be highly suspicious of an ear infection (which can be itchy and uncomfortable) or an allergic type reaction which can make them feel itchy and anxious.


If you look in her ears is there any sign of increased waxy debris, either yellow, white or dark brown/black in color? Are her ears red? If her ears are red and waxy then her symptoms are likely caused by an ear infection. Ideally she would see her veterinarian for treatment of that. But I understand that you'd like to make her more comfortable now if you can. To ease ear itchiness until you can have her checked you can try:

1)Benadryl (diphenhydramine only don't use the combination products with decongestants and acetaminophen as they can be toxic) at 1mg to 2mg per pound or one 25mg capsule per 25 pounds of dog orally every 8 hours.

OR 2)Claritin (loratidine) at 5mg per 25 pound dog once or twice daily.

OR 3)Hydroxyzine at 1mg per pound orally every 8 hours.

OR 4) Chlorpheniramine at 4mg to 8mg per dog once or twice daily.

Be aware antihistamines can cause sleepiness or hyperactivity in some dogs. These side effects do wear off with repeated use.

Omega-3 fatty acids are fish oil products. 3V by DVM or Derm Caps ES are good brand name products. Use the high end of the dosing schedule for your pup's weight.

Together with antihistamines they decrease itchiness and inflammation and are good for skin health in general.

I also recommend using a gentle ear cleaner daily. This removes excess wax and keeps the ear pH at levels that discourage infections. It also allows you to know what a normal ear looks like and catch ear infections very early. Sometimes with an early infection simply cleaning the ear daily and using omega 3's and antihistamines is enough to stop it in its tracks. Ideally keep the hair plucked out of her ears to keep wax from getting caught and allow air to circulate in the ear.


If her ears look red but no wax is present this can be an early infection or an allergic reaction. I would still use the same protocol as above to help stop an allergic reaction and soothe her ears.


It may take a good day or two to see a good improvement.

If even with antihistamines and omega 3's she has facial swelling, difficulty breathing and/or vomiting or diarrhea that likely means that the allergic reaction is worsening and she will require hands on veterinary care on an emergency basis.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.