Head Pressing in Dogs
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Head Pressing in Dogs

Dogs
Health & Safety

Head pressing is a condition that can affect dogs during their lifetimes and they can start doing it for several reasons. With this said, when dogs start pressing their heads against objects for no apparent reason, it is usually a sign of there being something wrong with their nervous systems. This includes a condition known as prosencephalon disease which is when their forebrain and the thalamus areas in the brain get damaged. However, certain forms of toxic poisoning can also result in a dog head pressing too.

Signs to Watch Out For

When a dog starts pressing their head against things, as previously mentioned, it is one of the symptoms associated with prosencephalon disease. But there are other signs of there being something wrong with a dog when they develop the condition and this could include the following:

  • Circling and pacing incessantly
  • A change in behaviour
  • Seizures
  • Problems with vision
  • Slower reflexes
  • Sores on feet due to their incessant pacing and circling
  • Injuries to face and to head due to pressing it against objects

The Causes

As previously mentioned, there are several reasons why a dog might start head pressing some of which are as follows:

  • Too little or too much sodium in their blood plasma - this is known as hyper or hyponatremia
  • A tumour which could be either a primary or secondary tumour
  • An infection that's negatively impacted the immune system
  • Head trauma
  • Exposure to certain toxins
  • As a result of suffering a stroke

Diagnosing the Problem

A vet would need to have a dog's full medical history and be told how the onset of their symptoms first manifested themselves which would help establish a diagnosis. The vet would examine a dog's eyes paying special attention to the retina and back of the eye which could help confirm if there is any sort of infectious or inflammatory disease flaring up. It would also show whether there are any abnormalities in a dog's brain. Other tests a vet would recommend carrying out could include the following:

  • Blood pressure test
  • A urinalysis - this would establish whether a dog has developed a metabolic problem
  • Tests for blood lead concentrations - this would establish if the condition is due to a dog having toxins in their systems
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan

Treatment Options

Any treatment would depend on the symptoms a dog is displaying. However, until a dog's condition can be stabilised, they would need to be hospitalised so they can be closely monitored and given fluids intravenously should it be necessary. A vet would need to confirm a diagnosis before any sort of treatment can begin.

Living with a Dog with the Condition

Once a dog has been successfully treated and allowed to go home, they would need a lot of supportive care. A dog that has suffered from the condition would need to be taken for regular check-ups with the vet so more neurological tests can be carried out. Should a dog start head pressing again, further tests would need to be carried out and their condition treated once the vet has been able to confirm the underlying cause.

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