Head Bobbing and Tremors in Dogs

Causes of Idiopathic Head Tremors in Dogs

So, your beloved Boxer wakes up one morning and you suddenly notice something odd and out of place. He is displaying an unusual head movement that seems to come out of nowhere. You call him to you and check his head and ears. Baffled, you keep an eye on him for the rest of the day.

A day after, the episode seems to repeat. This time, the head bobbing is much more evident. Concerned, phone in hand, you decide to give your veterinarian a call.

Is Head Bobbing Part of a Seizure?

Head bobbing is a common occurrence in certain breeds such as Boxers, Dobermans, Cavalier King Charles and Bulldogs. Some cases can be also be observed in mixed breeds. The condition is better known as "Idiopathic Head Bobbing Syndrome". In simple words, head bobbing which cannot be linked to any medical conditions and is in most cases harmless.

It is unfortunate though, that more often than not, veterinarians treat such cases as seizures, prescribing Phenobarbital or Potassium Bromide. In cases of Idiopathic head bobbing, such medications do no good, because the syndrome is not related in any way to seizure activity. Affected dogs therefore, will not benefit from such medications and may actually develop unpleasant side effects from such medications.

While the syndrome may look strange, it is generally not harmful and most dogs have happy, satisfied lives in spite of the occasional tremor. Typically, the head bobbing bothers the human observer more than the dog. However, your dog should still see the vet should your dog lose consciousness or show other signs of neurological damage. If he seems unresponsive and will not raise his head when you call his name it could signal an uncontrollable seizure.

Possible Causes of Idiopathic Head Tremor


Most dogs will suffer from episodic attacks. They may be symptom-free for weeks or hours and then the head bobbing will return just as before. The head bobbing also seems to subside when the dog is busy doing an activity such as eating or playing.

Low Glucose Levels

In some cases, head bobbing may be associated with low glucose levels in the blood. This may occur in lactating dogs, who may have lowered glucose/calcium levels. Head bobbing may also be due to hormonal fluctuations, which can result in more visible head bobbing during estrus. If related to low glucose levels, rubbing some Karo syrup or honey on the dog's gums should minimize the head bobbing.

Calcium Deficiency

Puppies have on occasion shown head bobbing episodes as well as their calcium levels are low as well during their development.

Heartworm Medication

In some cases episodes of head bobbing have been linked to the administration of heartworm medication. While there may be a link, no thorough studies seem to have been done as of yet to suggest this as a possibility.

The Bottom Line

Any case of head bobbing should be thoroughly investigated to rule out any other more serious causes such as tumors or head injuries. Normally, blood-work, an MRI and/or an analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid will suffice. However, consulting with a neurologist may be helpful.

While annoying, most Idiopathic head bobbing cases do better if left alone. In some cases, veterinarians may recommend supplements. Most dogs live just fine with the syndrome and adjust accordingly, leading still a good quality of life.

A case of Idiopathic head bobbing

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Comments 97 comments

Heather 7 years ago

My year and a half old male Doberman started having these out of the blue a few weeks ago. He had three in a two day period and then they stopped.

I admit they scared me to death and was shocked that my Vet knew nothing about them, especially since the Internet was filled with videos and articles like this one. But like the other dogs who have these, they didn't seem to harm him at all. He acted totally normal before, during and after the event.

I'm hoping they go away but if they do come back I feel a bit more prepared. Thank you for this article!!

jc 7 years ago

baily is a good looking animal. I've had boxers for over 25 years expanding a number of generations. I've witnessed these head shaking episodes in about three of my boxers. The vet didn't have an answer cause everything seemed ok but it seems to bother me more than the dog. His dad had these episodes quite often but my current stud "rufus" has them rarely. I've come to accept the fact that is something that happens in the breed. I just came home for lunch and he was having an episode. I gave him a tablespoon of peanut butter and it he was no longer having the shakes by the time he finished eating it. Ill bet that when i get home later he will have the shakes just so he can get more peanut butter. Actually, there may be something to the low sugar explanation. either way, he loves peanut butter.

marley's mom 7 years ago

My King Charles Caviler just started bobbing his head a week ago, just a day after taking his monthly heartguard. I wonder if there is a connection? My friend's dog was having seizures, they stopped the heartguard and the dog hasn't had one since...

Kristine 6 years ago

Both of my bulldogs have head bobbing episodes. The episodes started a few months after research has come across a number of dogs who have started after being exposed to anesthesia. It is scary to watch, but does seem to be more annoying to my boys. They just look at me with the 'mommy make it stop' look in their eyes. And of course it seems to always happen at 3am!

eli 6 years ago

We recently rescued a Boxer (owner release) who started this head bobbing about a week after she came to us. The vet also has no idea, and since she has full health records is pretty sure its not a disease source. The vet said it is common in Boxers and that sometimes just distracting them is enough. Our Boxer was doing it again last night and we tried the peanut butter trick. It worked like a charm.

Sharon 6 years ago

What I find strange is the fact that some (including my boxer) shake up and down, and others side to side.

Bridget 6 years ago

I am in pre-vet right now, and my 2 year old Boston Terrier started this Sat. Jan 23,2010. After having 3 episodes that I saw, I took him to the Vet, and they did blood work, and found nothing, and related it to Idiopathic Head Tremors. I do admit once he started this I started researching the web to try to find the answer to his episodes. He was completely aware before, during, and after, so I didn't know what to look for. I didn find viseos of this on youtube, and came to my own conclution of head tremeors. I diagnosed him myself and wasted 68 bucks today for something I figured out myself. They did suggest a neuroligist, but if they don't have a clue why this happens and how it comes about, then what's the point. At least it DOES NOT HURT him in anyway. That is the most important thing. My heart goes out to all the dogs that have this. I know it hurts us as the pet owner more then the dog, but we as pet owners hate to see our babies do something so strange. I did try to distract him, but that didn't work, maybe I will try peanut butter next time. Thanks for all you advice on here I appreciate it so much. Good luck, and when I become a Vet in about 6-8 year, I can promise all of you that I will try to find a reason and cure for this.

Karen 6 years ago

My bulldog had his first episode of head-bobbing, just like your boxer a day after an application of frontline. He had his second episode one week later and another 10 minutes after that. I am glad there are postings on the internet.

Gunnar 6 years ago

My Clumber Spaniel seems to be having these head bobbing tremors as well. I took a video of one last night and sent it to my vet and am waiting to hear back. I too will try the peanut butter trick. I know this seems to be common with bulldogs or boxers, but any other dogs?

shel 6 years ago

my labradoodle, 4 months old, is bobbing her head often throughout the day. Each time it is about 3-5 seconds.

Wiggyfly 6 years ago

Head bobbing is often a stereotypical behaviour in animals meaning that it is very repetitive. This is often a sign in most animals of boredom. Try and get your dog into a playful state of mind whether thats playing with him or just taking him for a walk. hope this helps :)

phecker 6 years ago

I have a four month old Shihtzu,she has had two doses of Sentinel plus ALL of her shots,except rabies.She only weighted 3 pounds on her first dose,I took her to the vet and her bloodwork came back fine.She does the headbob that lasts only a few seconds,we stopped the Sentinel for a month to see if this is the cause.

Johnny's Mom 6 years ago

I adopted my 4 year old Boxer in 08. He was heartworm positive when we got him and was treated for such. As instructed by our vet we started him on HeartGuard to prevent any future heartworms from reappearing. Two days after taking the medication, we witnessed his 1st head tremor. I totally panicked! The vet had very little info and referred us to a specialized clinic. They too had very little information other than the fact that they were not harmful to the dog but did not know what caused them.

I have been doing my own investigation for the past few years - logging the episodes, time of day, how long they last, what the boy was doing when they occurred etc.

For what I have seen, they only occur after I give my boy his hearworm prevention. Under the advice of my vet I have tried several different brands of heartworm preventative including HeartGuard and Sentinel and by the 2nd day after taking the pill my boy has an episode. His only last a few seconds and I can always distract him with a treat. They seem to occur when he is in a restful state. I think it hurts me more than it hurts him!

I wish there was more professional research. I am between a rock and a hard place - if i stop giving him the meds, he will not have tremors but could get heartworms again. In my opinion, the latter is far worse....

To anyone else who is experiencing this for the first time, hang in there. I am thankful for sites where dog lovers can exchange info/research and experiences. If I have any future updates I will post.

Jennifer 6 years ago

My two year old bulldog had her first episode of head bobbing today. She was asleep and woke up moving her head up and down, the first episode seemed to last for five minutes (very long). She stopped and throughout the episode she was concious and pupils remained intact (I checked to see if they were dialated but were not). She had no other abnormal movements in her body, no loss of bowels ect. She then had a second episode about thirty minutes later and a third episode about four hours later, during which I gave her ice cream with honey and that seemed to stop the episode. Im going to take her to the Vet tomorrow but throughout my research this may just be something she has to live with. I did give her heartworm yesterday and will probably stop that and switch brands. My poor bully!

lucy 6 years ago

I have a Maltese and she does the head bobbing, is that bad, if that kind of dog head bobs?

Kirstie 6 years ago

Hi, my 2 year old Australian Bully (male) started having them just this past WED the first went for 10 minutes he didn't have another till the following night at the exact same time, rushed him off to emergency, bloods and everything else came back perfect, he stayed over night and had another 4 through out the night. hasn't had one for the past 24 hours. i saw a specalist , vet and a surgeon no one had answers until they GOOGLED head tremmers in bulldogs.... after doing my own research i have found that it may not be as uncommon as most people think. as like the above comments, my bully just looks at me, as if to say WHAT THE? i feel for him and would love to find out more information or case studies on this syndrom, as i to was utterly destroyed to see it happening for the first time to my little man. i feel happless and just wish there was more research done on it....

Jen 6 years ago

Our 2 year old bully, Hamish is a head bobber too and takes Sentinel. After reading the comments, his episodes seem to happen 1-3 days after taking the Sentinel, although, he had his Sentinel as usual June 1st and had no episodes in June at all (unless they happened when we were sleeping). Might switch to something else and see what happens. Just like all the others he is totally aware of everything during the episode, and even yawns during it. Lasts about 2-3 minutes and then just slowly subsides.

Ranee Randby 6 years ago

I had a Bulldog who displayed head-bobbing when she woke up. She died of a brain tumor 2 1/2 years later at a young age. Head bobbing is not normal nor always benign, and anyone with a dog displaying this behavior should be instructed to never breed the dog. I was disappointed this wasn't included in your discussion.

Marcy 6 years ago

My five-month-old Yellow Lab is doing this too. Took him to the vet today and they suggested a neurologist. I do believe this is what he has and just hope nothing serious comes of it.

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alexadry 6 years ago from USA Author

Ranee, it is difficult at times including every thing in an article. Yes, even though common sense ''do not breed your dog if he or she has a tendency to head bobbing (hereditary based of course!)''. And most importantly, do not breed your dog in the first place if you are not a professional dog breeder who tests its breeding stock for genetic flaws and temperament!

meggy 6 years ago

my Olde English Bulldogge just has had to episodes of this head shaking. It scared me so badly. It was while she was laying down when it happened. She is only a year old and I do know that nothing like this happened until a few weeks ago and the ONLY thing I have done differently with her is I gave her Frontline Flea medicine for the first time ever. Not sure if it is from that or not but if it is I hope this isn't permanent damage. :(

Tye Turner 6 years ago

I have a 4 1/2 year old American Pit Bull Terrier who is epileptic and has shown symptoms of this head bobbing that youa ll speak of, and the honey does work, but for me it has been linked to her meds for her seizures, this is informational and yes people need to know that if any dog who does not have health tests preformed onit should NEVER be bred. Thank you

Jessica 6 years ago

I have a 6 year old American Bulldog and she started head bobbing out of the blue about a year ago. There was no change in her diet and we hadn't used any different medication on her. She was just laying down and woke up and started bobbing...I was so freaked out that we took her to the emergency vet who kept her overnight and in the morning we took her to a neurologist. The neurologist we saw said head bobbing syndrome was fairly common in "short nosed" dogs and usually after people found out what it was they didn't come back to the neurologist for it so se didn't have a lot of follow up information for me. One thing she said that I see a lot of people on here recognize is that it seems tougher for us as parents to watch than it is for the dog. One thing that always works for my dog (and something that makes me feel better than just sitting and watching) is a hand full of either peanut butter or honey. I'm not sure that it's low blood sugar though because one time it happened in the car with no food in sight and I had her lick my bare hand and that seemed to work too....I think it's just the act of doing something else (like when you have the hiccups) that actually makes it go away.

jobaby 5 years ago

My Cairn Terrier has had a twitch since a pup in the litter, she comes from genetically tested well bred champion lines. The vet ran all kinds of tests on her and the twitch (similar to a bobble head motion involving her head only) was very mild until this past saturday. The vet suggested something neurological and did not believe it to be seizures and from what I have seen I do not either. I had a dog that did have a seizure and this was not at all similar.

This past Saturday the head shaking (I call her my little bobble-head because that it was it looks like) was quite violent and disturbing to watch. I thank all the other posters for sharing their experiences. I am going to try peanut butter and wonder if there is validity to the low sugar possibility since my little one is a rather finicky eater.

I don't want to put my dog through the stress of a spinal tap and I don't know what a neurologist can do that isn't going to be experimental, stressful and painful for the dog. Those were the next steps for my dog. The dog is otherwise healthy, and very playful. If the problem is neurological and something is not firing right, how would they fix it?, can they fix it (since they don't know alot about it).

I did also just recently give my dogs heartguard within 2 weeks, I do not know if it's related because this dog had the twitch/tremor before she ever had heartguard, flea medicine.

Just my thoughts on the subject. Watching my girl closely, going to try some things with diet and now that winter coming will not be giving flea or heartworm medicine.

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alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

jobaby,heartguard has seizures among the list of side effects and if you do a search you may find some people reporting an increase in seizure activity in their dogs after giving their monthly heartworm medication. If seizures can be exacerbated with heartguard, I cannot see why not other neurological symptoms such as head bobbing or twitches may increase.

Vicki 5 years ago

I just got a new boxer puppy 4 months ago, 3 days ago he started shaking his head like he was saying no no no, it looked like a head bobble movment, then the next day he did it again, I called my Vet. she said your looking at alot of money with all the test we would have to do including a CT MRI and a neurologist vet. today my dog has bobbled his head 4 times and I thought I was going to have a break down. After reading all the above comments I feel much better knowing this is common in his breed (boxer) and short nose dogs. I will try the vanilla icecream and honey trick.

Hannah 5 years ago

I have a 12 yr old male Dalmatian/Lab mix who just started doing this in the last year, but infrequently. Freaked me out the first time, but he seems to be fine afterward--only lasts about 3 seconds and that's usually it for the day, week, or month... Weird. Helpful to read everything here, though--I'm not going to overreact... :-)

Adidas 5 years ago

My Great Dane adult male had a head bobbing episode about 3 months ago. They continued periodically throughout the morning and we took him to the emergency vet and they stopped. They suggested a neurologist as well. Nothing. For 3 months he hasn't had any episodes and then the other day all of a sudden they started up again. They scare me to death when they happen...he gets up and wants to walk around and they subside with exercise. I am SO relieved to see videos and be able to identify what it is! I have not identified any reason that would trigger it...meds/food have not changed at all.

Dbl J 5 years ago

27Nov2010-My 15 mo old M mix terrier started w/the head bobbing 3 wks ago. First I thought he was shaking. Then he had another episode the next day. The only change we had made-added glucomisine Chronditin (Eukanuba-large breed)dog food-because he went to vet (5wks agao)& dx'd w/osteochondritis dessicans. We took him off it, and the head tremor diminished until today, he had a 2 second episode. After reading this thread, he will be going to neurologist just to be sure that he does not have a tumor. I will continue to post w/progress

Nugget's Mommy 5 years ago

So i have a 13 week old puppy. he is a olde English bulldog mixed with a rare alapaha blue blooded bulldog. he weighs about 25 lbs. He had 2 episodes of head shaking, both happened when he was laying down. Its like he is saying "no,no,no" his are side to side and he is fully conscious, and not in any pain.

I did my research online and thought it could be related to hypoglycemia. This is because his episodes happened the first time, shortly after being outside (its super cold) and the second time when he was late getting dinner after playing.

So i started to feed him an extra meal, he has a puppy jacket and doesn't stay outside too long. His play times are limited and he hasn't had any issues since.

For all you mommys and daddys wondering what's wrong, try and Google HYPOGLYCEMIA and figure out when the episodes happen.


J Lyne & Jager 5 years ago

Hi, I'm glad to have come across this article. I've been stressing out over my 5 month old English Bulldog who had his first episode of this "head shaking" a week ago. He was laying with his head in my lap resting while we watched a movie. I dont know who it surprised more, him or me. It was just his head trembling, not his body, and he was completely alert through-out the experience.

I had a female have episodes of low calcium shaking in the past so I gave him a fruit flavored Tums and it stopped very quickly after he finished the Tums. He had another occurrence of head shaking yesterday, again it stopped almost immediately after he had a Tums. Then tonight he was sitting beside me and started it, I gave him the last 1/4 cup of my strawberry yogurt and the shaking stopped. I really dont know if its the calcium, the sugar or the distraction but whichever it is seems to work.

I do want to thank Nugget's Mommy because now that I read that, she made me realize that this started after Jager and I spent our first snow-day outside playing together. Yesterday's episode happened about an hour after he was out with the kids sledding and today's was about 30 minutes after we were out building snowforts for a snowball fight. Maybe his body burning extra calories to stay warm has an effect on his normally balanced glucose levels? I'll be keeping an eye on that!

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miss vicki 5 years ago

my boxer Champ was head bobbling almost every night for 2 weeks, he was still a puppy..anyways I read that if you give your dog plain yogart it will stop, so I have giving my dog 1 table spoon a day and he has not bobbled head in 2 months, you can also put peanutbutter or honey for flavor, I have used the vanilla flavor and it works!!! its funny that when I called 3 vets and told them what my boxer was doing with his head, they all saw dollar signs and wanted to do blood work, cat scans, mri's and more that would of cost me thousands of dollars, I did my own research to find out that it's normal for a flat nose dog such as boxers, pit's, bull dogs have bobble head. try the yogart it only cost $1.87 and it works! :)

chiefhead 5 years ago

Has anyone actually had an MRI done, and what was the results.

cheryl_a_p 5 years ago

Just talked to my breeder and apparently in most cases, it's head tremors caused by a calcium deficiency.

Kodiak my baby 5 years ago

My 5 year old doberman has shown the head bobbing on numerous occasions. It happened a few times when he was younger and now is happening again. We have not put any medications on him or in him for a long time, and we do not switch his food or give him any kind of scraps or anything that I feel would effect his behavior or diet. The episodes seem to happen only after he wakes up, or when he is resting his head in the same position for a long time then moves. It isn't every time and it isn't on any type of pattern. We just snap him out of it with distractions and rub his neck. I have my own slipped disc issues in my neck and seeing his shaking makes me think that it is related to some sort of neck muscle issue, like a spasm or something. He has been doing it more often in the last few weeks, and the only thing that has changed was that we got him a tuggy toy... which leads me to belive that somehow the whipping and whirling of his neck when playing with it has irritated the muscles and is causing spasms after they relax then tense up and move again. So, the rope has since tore off the ball, so no more tuggy toy. He also pulls a lot when we walk, so I am going to switch to his harness again and see if that helps. My other doberman female doesn't and has never done it and they eat, sleep, live and enjoy life in unison. So, I will try a little bit of everyone's advice, but I really think it is something to do with weak/tight neck muscles, and that is why sometimes it goes up and down, or side to side, or somethimes goes away for years or comes back again. Just my own theory based on my own slipped disc and neck muscle issues.

littledevil29 5 years ago

my valley bulldog (english bulldog/boxer) will be 2 yrs old on march 28th 2011. he is an altered male and weighed 86.4 lbs. yesterday (3-13-11). he started that head bobbing yesterday morning around 10am. it lasted about 3-5 minutes. i to at first thought it was some type of seizure but the more i look at him the more im convinced its not because he is fully alert before during and after the episode. i took him to the vet and spent $190 on bloodwork, urine and ear test. the only thing that my vet found was he had a yeast infection in his ears and a small fever of 103.3. i brought him home gave him 1 325mg aspirin for the fever and used cleaning solution and antibiotic ear drops from the vet. he was fine until around 8pm and then he started up again and it has been stop and go all night and so far all day (12pm). the only thing i see that helps him is to let him outside and i think its because he interested in everything going on out there and hes being distracted. im going to try the peanut butter, honey, yogurt or something if he keeps doing this because when summer gets here he wont be able to stay outside for long periods of time because of the heat. i noticed some people think its maybe a calcium problem but i was just wondering if maybe a calcium supplement would be helpful. the only medicine that i might could say was linked to this is something another vet gave me for his ear infection a few weeks ago. she gave me something called dermachlor k flush to clean his ears with everyday for a week and once a week after it was supposed to keep the yeast from growing in his ears. the only bad thing i found about this after researching it was it says nothing about using it in his ears. it only says use on the skin but i used it like she said because we hope and pray the vets we put our trust in knows more then we do. i took this bottle to my regular vet and he said i shouldn't use it because it wasn't safe for the eardrums. so i bought regular ear cleaner from him to clean his ears with from now on. i hope and pray we can find out what works for him because like everybody else says its very hard on the parents and it looks like he asking me what's going on and i wish i knew and could help him. peace, love, prayers and good luck with all who are suffering with this disorder.

littledevil29 5 years ago

thank god for friends that have seen this before. my breeder friend who breeds valley bulldogs has seen this before. she told me it was from low sugar and to give him 6 ml of pancake syrup or corn syrup once a day or twice if it persisted and 1 tums 3 times a day. i gave him 2 tums today and 1 teaspoon of pancake syrup today and he hasn't bobbed his head since around 12 noon. i am so grateful to my dear friend for helping me and easing my mind. thank you stella smith

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alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Good to hear your dog is doing better!Note that my article suggested as well hypoglycemia as a potential cause for head bobbing and was advising to use Karo syrup or honey on the gums.

sandy 5 years ago

This was interesting to me since we have boxers. Could you please post your sources? Thanks!

Tina 5 years ago

After just putting 2 + 2 together, i realise my dog started headbobbing about 4 years ago after i changed her food to a lower protein diet. Now i think theres a link between the condition and her diet. It was mentioned about blood sugar levels and my dog drinks loads and loads of water. I would appreciate if anyone had any advice on choice of diet.

Cheryl 5 years ago

I guess I am joining this group now.... My Boxer mix that I rescued back in October is doing the same thing. She had heart-worms when I rescued her, and I had had to start treatments. Prior to her heart worm treatments, I never saw this, but after her double dose treatment she started having this episode. Today was her third one, and I finally got it on video. I'm praying to God it isn't seizures, and just this head bobbing thing. She is on good grain free food, and she isn't on any flea/tick, or heart worm prevention at this time, only because she was supposed to have one more oral dose of the heart worm treatment. We put it on hold due to all of this happening... What a frightening thing to go through.... Just like everyone else, it does not seem to bother her one bit. She is fine before, during, and after, aside from the head shake. I have heard, sugar, calcium, heart worm treatments, allergic reaction, and a few other things can cause this problem. I also worry that some my be diagnosed as this rather than looking into it medically and finding out that there was a tumor or some other medical reason behind them.... My baby will be going back to the vet once again tomorrow with the video in hand to see if there may be something more going on. The next step is blood work from what I understand...

Nanette Harper 5 years ago



Ranee, I'm very sad for you that your young dog died of a brain tumour.

However, emotions aside, as the condition is called 'idiopathic', that means no-one knows how it is caused. Therefore there is no more proven hereditary link between head bobbing (which my breed and my breeding has in some of our individuals), brain tumours, or epilepsy. There seems to be more of a link with chemicals rather than breeding, so don't go knee jerking and blaming your breeder.

To the lady who heartbreakingly wrote 'My heart goes out to all the dogs that have this', Why? You will see that ever single poster writes that their dogs are not troubled, distressed, affected by it. They are often running around the garden playing or alternatively relaxed. It's not pleasant for us to see, but I can assure you that our dogs who we see have done it, are not in an emotional state, pain or distress.

As usual too much emotion clouds the importance of rational discussion.

It's also interesting that all the vets are sending the dogs off for expensive lab work, scans etc, BEFORE reading coverage on sites like this. Jobaby posted sensibly - what do you want the vet to do if they don't know what it is? Brain surgery!


Donna 5 years ago

My 6 year old female black Lab started having these tremors. I began giving her a vitamin b complex tablet in her morning food (concealed in a piece of raw hamburger) and she hasn't had a tremor in over a month and a half.

angela 5 years ago

My 4 year old mini dobie/rat terrier has been head shaking his whole life. He seems to be saying no no no.I used to have to hold his bowl when he was a pup, then found it easier for him to eat, without getting food every where, if I mix a little wetfood with the dry. From a pup, I tried almost everything to help him. What worked the best was loving him the way he is and not stressing on it. Sure we get stopped everytime we walk, but that is what makes him our Rowdie.

Stacy 5 years ago

My bulldog Bullet has been experiencing head bobbing just recently. it's almost like she is having a seizure. she has no energy and lost a lot of weight. i took her to the vet and they couldn't seem to find what was wrong with her, so they gave her a shot for parasites and prescribed her Drontal plus canine, both seemed to have no affect. so i started doing research and came across this website and was happy to see that this head bobbing is common. but i am worried on how much weight she is losing and how she has absolutely no energy. she is very sluggish and just sleeps all day. if there anything i can do? i've been trying to give her yogurt and honey but she doesn't like it. what else can i do? someone please help, its breaking my heart seeing her like this. i miss my energetic bully :(

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alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Find another vet, head bobbing should not be accompanied by other symptoms, your dog needs blood work done, a shot against parasites will do little for the head bobbing. If you want to try the honey just rub a little on her gums with your finger. Best wishes!

Nina 5 years ago

My male 4 year old American Bulldog just had it happen to him for the first time this morning while he was sleeping. At first I thought he was having a bad dream and tried to wake him up. He looked at me then closed his eyes to sleep all while shaking only his head. I woke him up a second time & he got up looked at me still shaking his head. I immediately knew then that this wasn't just a bad dream. I hurried and dialed our vet thinking he was having a seizure. While I was on the phone, he walked into the room I was in still shaking his head like a "bobble head" up & down. The entire time he was alert & did not seem to be in any pain.

The whole episode lasted between 2-3 minutes.

I took him to the vet afterward & she stated he probably had a mild seizure which could be due to epilepsy, change in his food/diet or a reaction to something he may have got into outside (i.e. pesticides, etc.) She told me to keep a close monitor on him to see if he has another episode. She said if he does have epilepsy that this is usually the age it usually starts to show. I am hoping that this is not the case. After reading about everyone who has had a similar experience, I am feeling reassurred that he probably doesn't have epilepsy & has the "Idiopathic Head Bobbing Syndrome".

Josy 5 years ago

My 8year old cocker spaniel has started the head bobbing, I rushed her to the vets thinking it was a fit they did blood tests which cost me £200 to say they couldn't see anything wrong. I am glad I found this site and feel more reassured as it is frightening at first to watch, I will be trying the honey and peanut butter on her as advised by others

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Relationshipc 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

My experience is like Nina's.

My doberman/rottweiler just did this head shake worse than she's ever done it before. She was completely conscious and aware through the whole thing and it didn't seem to bother her.

She kept putting her head back down to sleep even though it was shaking wildly. She's done this before but not to this extent. She's also 13 years old. Scared the crap out of me. I'm quite glad I found this hub.

littledevil29 5 years ago

my last post was 4 months ago and this is an update on my valley bulldog named spike. he turned 2 yrs old on march 28th. on the advice of my breeder who says this is common with their breed i give him a tums 2 times a day broken up in his food. this is to bring his calcium level up. i also give him a tablespoon of pancake syrup when an episode starts and within seconds it stops. the syrup is to bring his sugar level up. he has only had one other episode since the first 4 months ago. i pray everyday that he doesn't have anymore but thanks to my breeder and this hub i feel confident that i know what to do to help him now. good luck and prayers to all the people and dogs that go through this.

Megan 5 years ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Our boy Eddie, almost 3yr old Olde English started head bobbing yesterday morning. I called the vet ER and they told me, it's probably a seizure adn to monitor his condition. After it happened again two hours later, we brought him in for blood work. All test came back fine and he's in great health. As we were waiting the result I googled head bobbing and it directed me to this site. What a helpful and calming site for all the parents!! We feel so much better after reading that this condition is not life threatening and very managable. He already loves PB so I'm pretty sure he's going to be just fine. We will be keeping records of date/how long it last/ what he was doing while having the bobbing. Perhaps we can see a pattern?? Thank you again for making us aware! Just wish more Vets were aware of this...

Sara 5 years ago

My dog had surgery yesterday in which she went under anesthesia. The following day she is having head shakes that last a few seconds at a time and she seems to be able to move and stop them. This has happened about five times so far and before, during, and after she seems fine. It seems to happen when she is resting with her head down or falling asleep and not when up and active. It makes sense about her sugar levels being low-she skipped two meals for the surgery. We will try peanut butter more regularly (she does love PB)-thanks!

violetsky95 5 years ago

I have a 5 yr old Plotthound who has had a few episodes of this in the past 8 months. Every time, she's been laying in the bed sleeping when it started. Each one lasts about 3-5 minutes. Hers are from side to side. I have a video of it here:

She's on Heartgard but hasn't had a dose since Aug 22th, and this happened Sept 4th. No Frontline or recent surgery. Her last episode was back around March, I think. That was the first and second time we'd seen it happen, but we've only had her since December 2010. I'm going to start tracking them more diligently now to see if I can find some kind of correlation.

Annie 5 years ago

So glad I found this site!!! I feel a little better.. My olde english bulldog woke at 6am today with the head bobbing for the first time...went away after a couple minutes but as soon as he falls asleep it comes right back. Tried sugar milk and honey milk and it seemed to help for a bit and then it came right back. Took him on a couple walks and it goes away while hes active then comes right back. He seems a little worried about it but normal other wise. Im totally freaked though...It sounds exactly like what everyone is writing except his is pretty severe...Has happened 7 or 8 different times today from 6am-to now (11:15) and he cant seem to shake it off. Im thinking me being worried isn't helping anything so hes not able to relax. Has anyone ever experienced it this severe?? Throughout a long period of time? I really hope this is a temporary thing even if its not harmful to him. I feel so helpless not knowing how to make him better :-/

littledevil29 5 years ago

Annie i know exactly what u are talking about and yes my spike was the same way at first. i have posted here several times with updates on him. what works for him it seems is i give him a extra strength tums twice a day every day (for low calcium) and when he has an episode i give him a big puddle of pancake syrup during the episode (for low sugar). i also continue the syrup for seven days once a day after he has had an episode. if u like more detailed info on my dog please read back and look for my post i posted earlier. i hope this site and other peoples post helps you and your dog. prayers to all the people and pets dealing with the disorder.

Seth 5 years ago

My 18 month old boxer Layla started having these tremors in her sleep and they would continue 1-2 minutes after waking. Vet though it could be early onset of epilepsy or something worse. After a day or 2 the symptoms disappeared...only to resurface about a month later. After reading through all the comments on here and from Bailey's videos on youtube it finally dawned on me...FRONTLINE!!! For some reason she started having this reaction to it after 2 days of application. Why it started after being on it since I brought her home i can't tell you. We switched to Revolution because it doesn't list neurological issues as one of the possible side effects like Frontline does. Low and behold we are about 4 months in with no relapses, thank god I read through all you good folks stories of possible causes and remedies and hope that she continues tremor free for the rest her life. Just wanted to spread the word and give my thanks and sympathy towards the rest of you. No more Frontline = No more TREMORS

Seth 5 years ago

My bad for my post above...she was on Frontline too but the product that has neurological side effects listed as a possible side effect is Heartgard not Frontline. Revolution replaces them both so it could have been either but the main suspect is the Heartgard not Frontline. Sorry for the confusion.

Steph 5 years ago

I have an Italian Greyhound (Izzy) that has the same head bobbing that everyone has mentioned. It just showed up one day, not after shots or anything dramatic. At one point she was having 5 or 6 a day. Of course I rushed her to the vet on the second day, the vet stated that it was probably idiopathic head tremors and not much could be done about them since she didn't seem to be in pain and was alert. After expensive blood work (found nothing) she was sent home. I was told to call him if anything changed or she was in pain.

Well, I went home and hit the internet for research. What I found seems to have fixed her problem. I will provide a link that has a good explaination since I'm no scientist but basically I give her a calcium supplement everyday. She stopped having the tremors within a few days and has not had any since. Please try this to see if it helps. Here is the link explaining:

Elina 5 years ago

Hello from Finland! Sorry my bad english! I have 2 years old giant of snautzer and he maybe has idiopatic head tremor. When he's head shakeing, it would continue 1,5 hours or sometimes more. Have they any heard it can take so long time?

I would to thank this article and this site and all of you who is wrote here! Also I thank the answers what I maybe get!

kelly 5 years ago

My 2 year old boxer, Dexter, just did this last night (for about 30 seconds), and he also repeated it again today (for about 15 seconds), and both times it happened as he was getting up from a nap. I'm so glad I found this site, and knowing that other owners have witnessed this, and their "wittle goggies" are ok. I'm still going to take him to the vet on Friday just to have a simple blood test done, and if nothing comes back, then I'm going to take it as it comes, since Dex seemed to be perfectly fine, as if he wasn't even aware anything was up. In fact, he gave me a confused face last night as I ran over to him, like, "What??? Why are you rubbing me?" and today, while it was happening, he was rolling over on his back for a belly rub. It was very scary to see it happen, and not be able to do anything for him.

Nicole 5 years ago

Elina from Finland, my dog Red started having tremors 3 days ago, and one episode lasted for nearly a whole day.

This page has been nice in making me feel that i'm not alone. But PLEASE, if your dog has this condition, get it checked out by a vet!

And before you decide to skip the MRI's and spinal taps because of some hub you read on the internet just think, what if you get it wrong? What if your dog's head-bobbing is not "idiopathic"? What if your dog is having tremors because of "Cerebellar Abiotrophy" or any other brain abnormality that is degenerative (i.e. will get much worse) and in 6 months time your dog can barely walk?

If it helps anyone else, the steps i've been taking to minimise Red's head bobbing while i await test results are a) warmth, b) lots of activity during the day to keep him occupied which in turn c) makes him fall asleep really quickly at night.

Out of the above remedies, i have tried to increase his glucose and his calcium, neither of which have worked. I will re-post when test results are received. Good luck all!

Elina 5 years ago

Hello! No problem Nicole! Dog is checked by a vet but we have no diagnos yet. In this time I wait that I can take a video of he`s symptoms. I have one but it`s not very good and my husband take it about 6 month ago. In this time the symptoms are litlebit lesser. We think he is epileptic but one of the greatist vet says he think he is not and he think it mayd be idiopatic head tremer and he wants that videos, then we continue and think what shall we do... I just look information, because I dont no what kind of disease idiopatic head tremer is and what can I do if he has it. Thank you for answer and good luck to you and the others!

Steph 5 years ago

Nicole, thanks for the information and concern for your dog. We all love our dogs, that's why we are on a hub page trying to find answers, answers our vets do not have. In my case and many of the cases on here, our dogs do not display the symptoms of Cerebellar Abiotropy. CA affects the balance and coordination of the dog, they appear to be clumsy and confused. My dog is neither clumsy or confused during these spells, she is awake and moves around just fine. I know our first reaction is to run a million tests on our dogs, but MRI and spinal taps are very expensive test (at least in the U.S.) So the best bet is to rule out smaller things first and try options that have worked for other people with the same experience. In my case, the calcium supplements have been a miracle and Izzy has not had one single tremor after the supplements got built up in her system.

Also,sadly there is no cure or treatment for Cerebellar Abiotrophy.

Kim 4 years ago

Thank you so much for this article! My 11-year old Beagle/Basset mix has had this for a few years now, and other than the "bobble head" (kinda in a rocking, side to side/up down motion) he is perfectly healthy and normal. He plays actively with his 2-year old Beagle "sister), has great, absolutely silky fur, and eats/sleeps/potties just fine. This is his only abnormality. It has been scaring the crap out of ME though, and this article put my mind at ease. I wonder, though, if our culture, so full of chemicals to "help" our babies (cats and dogs) is perhaps causing this? I have had dogs since I was a baby, and have never seen this in pets (I'm 51)! Kinda makes you wonder.....

Elaine 4 years ago

I have a beautiful 13 year old boxer, the most wonderful dog anyone could ever wish for.For about a year now after eating he has started to have occasional head tremors and will then will drop like a stone . He gets up immediately and wanders a little and shudders and then normally vomits all his dinner up. He is then fine and sleeps.My vet said this can be quite common in older boxers and is caused when they bolt their food too quickly and it causes a slight disruption to the blood to the brain.He is not in pain or cries out in distress but it is horrible to witness but I keep him quiet and support him and talk gently to him. Hope this helps.

Margaret 4 years ago

My British Bulldog had her first 'severe' head nodding episode aged around 18 months old, rather than shaking it is up and down but severe. I rushed her to the Vet as I thought it was a fit. As normal cost a fortune and diagnosed it as a fit but wanted to keep her in and test for epilepsy. It gave me that much of a fright seeing her in such distress I brought her home thinking the worse. She never had another for almost 6 mths. Her first episode lasted app 15mins and every time it has occurred she has been sleeping, never been given any meds or been unwell etc, just came out of the blue. She has had 5 in total but roughly twice a year strangely around the same time, although not hormonal. What has me freaked out is her last episode lasted 45mins, and next to the video's on you tube, she differs by staying lying down, unable to stand, she tries to keep eye contact wondering what is going on and all I can do is give her the Valium that the Vet prescribed and wait for them to subside. She is awake but not totally with me and her legs stiffen but no shaking anywhere else just very severe head nodding. All I can do is cuddle her in tight, cry and wait for them to stop. Once they do stop she is confused and wants cuddled and assurance. They are not grand-mal seizures, she does not foam at the mouth, wet herself or loose control of her bowels, all that happens is her head nods violently and she appears out of it as long as it lasts. I m so pleased that I found this site and I have been reading everything possible all night. As I am on a low income I have been dreading taking her for blood tests etc as my Vet wanted everything done and I am now furious to find out that it hasn't even been fits she has been having and being charged 28 GBP ($40 app) for two Valium.

She is perfectly healthy in all other aspects,loves her run's in the park and is my baby. I love her to death and it appears to distress me more so than her. Has anybody else had their episodes last so long? and Has anyone else's dog been kind of out of it during the episode and then perfectly fine although tired after?

She hasn't had one since June (finger crossed) this year and would like any advice anyone could given just in case they do occur again.

Many thanks and I'll sleep so much more peaceful tonight after reading what I have instead of dreading the worst for her. Thanks again Margaret xx

Mary 4 years ago

My 12 year old golden, Katie has had head bobbing for a couple of years and I just decided to Google it and was referred to this site.

Mary 4 years ago

After viewing the slides of various dogs I see that Katie's are not as severe. Her head goes in "little steps" up and down not as fast as the slides. She looks like she i in a daze but responds when I call her name and stops. I am going to bring her in to the vet and see what they say.

LogansDad 4 years ago

Hi all

Our 10 and half year old English Bull Terrier, Logan, has had a form of 'head bobbing' over the years. However, no episodes for many months until this morning. It only occurs when he is about to eat. He bobs his head around his food bowl as if he can't eat (occasionally knocking into it)and then eats quite ravenously. Seems perfectly OK after. Only difference this morning, was he had already eaten most of his food, went to the garden, came back and 'bobbed' in front of his bowl, but didn't eat the remainder.

Reasons for this post:

1/Logan does have some yeast in his ears. Previous post have referred to this being a possible cause. Could be. Will be treating with Thornit powder.

2/ Logan had a brain infection January 2009, which, the vet specialists thought was a meningioma (tumour)following an initial MRI and spinal tap. Subsequent MRI at another facility, indicated it had shrunk and a third MRI at the same place, revealed it had gone completely! Although a few seizures in quick succession had led us to the specialists, Logan was, on occasion, displaying occasional head bobbing (only in front of his food bowl). Was it connected? Hard to say. I don't wish to add to anyone's concerns if their dog is 'head bobbing', but thought it worthwhile to mention this.

Logan's in very good health for his age (most people still think he's a puppy!), apart from an itchy skin problem.

All the best

Denise 4 years ago

My 6 year old Greyhound Rescue, Cleo, has had three episodes of Head Bobbing as far as I have witnessed. One just over a year ago, her second a few months ago, and her third this morning at 4am. My first visit to the vet resulted in blood work but all seemed normal, even for a greyhound. The second episode we went back to my vet but with an article that I had found online about idiopatic head tremers. Again, her blood work looked normal and my vet told me to let her know if this happens again. I cannot thank everyone who has posted on this site enough. I thought I was crazy and it was only my baby girl that was suffering. Low blood sugar seems to make sense to me, she can be a fussy eater. I was able to get this mornings episode on film and have already forwarded to my vet. I have to agree with all that say this seems to scare me more than i does my baby girl. I hope and pray everyday that peanut butter and yogurt will do the trick. Best wishes and love to all and their love bugs XOXO

Jenny 4 years ago

I have a 4.5 month old Rottweiler/Springer Spaniel mix who just started having these head bobbing episodes last Sunday. I took her to the vet Monday, but no one could give me any answers. She gave me Prednisone, in case it was Related to swelling in the ear that perhaps set off her balance. Frustrated, I did not agree with this theory at all, but I took the medicine home anyway. Exactly one week later, Sunday, she started having them again! I am worried because it doesn't seem like anyone has a Rottweiler experiencing this, but i do find relief in reading everyone's input on here. Thanks for the advice!

Gregory 4 years ago

Hi, my 7yr old boxer presented a wobbling head out of the blue recently. I was very concerned as this had never happened before. I read many posts about why it might be happening but one in particular about air fresheners struck me right away as what might be causing my boys reaction.

I had just installed a GLADE AIR FRESHENER near his bed that week for the first time. I removed it immediately from the house and we haven't had another episode since. I'm convinced these plug ins are very toxic (both to humans and pets) and wanted to offer more awareness around this environmental factor as a possible cause for pets suffering wobbles.

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

thank you for sharing! I was not aware of the connection between air fresheners and head bobbing in dogs. I will look for more literature about this.

Marji 4 years ago

Thank you 1 year old boxer started with head tremors 2 days ago..4 episodes in 1 day...all while sleeping. I gave him a fig newton, 2 of them & that helped. He got fixed last month & during the procedure the vet said they witnessed 2 episodes. I am wondering if it the anesthesia, I did get him tested for thyroid, heat worm & Lyme disease, will await the results & let you knw. My vet rec peanut butter too...I will try the yogurt.

LR 4 years ago

I have a 7 1/2 yr old Boxer. He has been doing this since he was a puppy. It happens when he wakes suddenly. I told my vet years ago and had some tests done on him. They all came back normal. I don't believe it is a sugar problem. My dog can not eat anything besides his food and milk bones because he has colitis and his stomach can not handle it. When the head shakes start I simply give him a milk bone and he stops immediately. The shaking doesn't seem to bother him much. He just kind of looks at me like what's going on and after I give him the treat he is perfectly fine. I think it is worse for us than it is for the dog. Thankfully my dog doesn't do it that often.

Darren 4 years ago

My Neopolitan Mastiff has this but it happens to him on very rare occasions. It usually a certain scent that causes him to start bobbing his head. It freaks me out because his head is so large that to me him shaking like that made me think something was really wrong with him. He usually goes months between episodes.

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

thank you for posting the videos, I am sure they wl be helpful for owners of dogs with this condition.

Terrible Tana's Mom 4 years ago

A huge Thank You to everyone for all of this info. Very very helpful! Our 9 month Lab is having tremors all of which come on 15-30 minutes after hard playtime. We will certainly be looking into many of your suggestions. Thank You

Beth 4 years ago

My boxer developed those exact head tremors. However we have linked them to Sentinal flea meds.. Since being taken off of the Sentinal the head bobbing tremors have completely stopped.

Hope that helps. My dog is a one year old flashy fawn.

Kim 4 years ago

We have an almost 1 year old AKC black labrador retriever puppy. He started the head bobbing around 4 months old. He was one of 14 puppies born and had 5 siblings that were dead in their mothers womb. I'm not sure how long he was left in the birth sack or if some type of head trauma occurred. I also have given him Trifexis flea,tick,& heartworm medication in tablet form. He has had 5 episodes now since April 2012. They start with the head bobbing and he is awake but a little disoriented, confused and scared. The last few times he has not been able to hold his urine and it leaks out without him knowing it is happening. He paces and can't seem to get comfortable. We've taken him to a neurologist in addition to his regular vetrinarian. He is on Phenobarbital for 3 weeks twice daily to see if these episodes stop. We are on day 4 of the medicine and he had another incident last night, we gave him 1 valium to try and calm him down. It didn't help. The head bobbing stopped but the leaking continuted for almost 6 hours and the anxiety of it effected him. Watching the videos that people have submitted look exactly like what our dog is doing. I haven't heard anyone mention losing bladder function in the form of leaking when their dogs are head bobbing. We've had blood taken but it came back normal. I will try all the tips that everyone has suggested. Thank you so much for posting, I feel like we are losing our minds! it's nice knowing we are not alone.

Rilton Brum 4 years ago


We have a pure breed English Bulldog that only gets Premium Hills feeding wise (apart from some meat and other goodies from time to time). Last saturday, the head tremors started. Never seen nothing like it and creeped the hell out of us.

I am pretty sure it has something realted to Flee control products. We rarelly use any (no need for em) but last week, the bulldog had Frontline and Capstar (an flee producted basedanti on Nitenpiram) and i come to realized that might related.

I will try to seek more information.

Best regards


Melissa 3 years ago

My olde English Bulldogge has had them since he was about 7-8 months and the only way the I have found that stops it right away is giving him a treat and it stops immediately . He will be turning 4 in January and love him to death.

Kim 3 years ago

I posted over 6 months ago about our labrador retriever. He is now 1 1/2 years old. He was symptom free of the head bobbing for 4 months and he had another episode in October and now has had 2 more the month of December. We had discontinued the flea, tick and heartworm meds through the summer. He hasn't had any new food or treats within this time as well. We thought possibly his vaccines in October were a trigger... but now having more symptoms we are puzzled. We don't know if exercise is a trigger or possibly stress related. I know this breed can be high strung especially with the field trial lineage. Just wanted to update the site on what our family is dealing with. Please continue to post with any suggestions when you can. Everything is so appreciated. Thank you.

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alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for the update Kim, I 'm sure it's quite frustrating to see them re-appear after a period of time.

Vicki 3 years ago

follow up 2 years ago I wrote that my boxer dog had bobblehead...since then I have found out alot..The cure is 1 table spoon of plain yogart a day mixed with food (at night time) instead of seeing my dog bobble head 3 times a week, since the yogart I only see it once or twice a year! the yeast in the yogart helps! if you see your dog bobbling just give your dog a teaspoon of vanilla icecream and it will stop. I have never missed a night of plain yogart, he is now 3 years old, I always keep vanilla icecream on hand just in case, I do see it a couple times a year. sometimes your dog will grow out of it, but bobblehead is most common in short nose dogs, boxers, pit bulls, bull dogs get it. YOGART YOGART YOGART it is the answer!!!! never miss a night and you will see the change.

Brenda 3 years ago

What is it about the yogurt and icecream that helps? Is it the dairy? I give my wolf-hybrid her glucosamine with chondroiton mixed with whipped cream everynight, so she is getting dairy and sugar. Today was the first day her head has wobbled and it scared the crap out of me.

In the last 8 months she has developed Horner's Syndrome (third eyelids exposed, uneven pupil dilation, and her poor nose is flaking off and exposing raw tissue), she has a terrible snort in the morning that sounds like a pig's oink, and she has yellowish gunk coming out of the corner of her eyes. And now the head bobbing.

I have read every post and wish many of these people would have followed up like Vicki to let us know whatever happened to the dog. After reading these posts I'm left with "calcium, yogurt, vanilla ice cream, and peanut butter"...not very reassuring.

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alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Brenda, the issue with head bobbing is that it's difficult to pinpoint the exact cause, and as such, many times owners are left with little options to prevent these episodes from occurring so they try home remedies they possibly found online. I remember preparing many charts for dogs with head bobbing, and upon checkout, I peeked on the diagnosis and it was often "idiopathic" meaning of unknown cause. People posting here are suggesting things that seem to have worked for their dogs but that doesn't mean it will necessarily work with yours. I would always consult with a vet before trying things at home and then ask his opinion about these options. I don't know the exact dynamics that would make these remedies work. One assumption may be that ice cream brings blood glucose levels up . This link uses ice cream for seizures and explains why it seems to work, so it may be a similar dynamic, best wishes!

Kim 3 years ago

Brenda, I think that we are all puzzled by our dogs behavior and just reaching out to each other trying to find similar symptoms. I agree with you that it would be nice if the people that posted previously would give us an update on how their dogs are doing now. I know with our labrador retriever we take every day as it comes and pray that he doesn't have head bobbing... I still feel that it has to be enviromental, seasonal, immunizations, or stress from injury that brings these on... just an update on our situation. Good luck to you and your dog.

Lauren 3 years ago

Hi all, oddly enough this is actually my boxer, Bailey, in the above posted video. I am currently fostering a boxer who just did this head bobbing a couple weeks ago and was looking back at my YouTube comments for added advice to give his new adopters. To update- Baileys first episode was in 2008 and she's had about 5 episodes since her first series of them. I am a huge advocate for changing the dogs diet to be free of gluten, wheat, dairy, etc. Initially when this all happened I completely freaked out and rushed her to the vet. As soon as I explained it to my vet he knew it was Idiopathic Head Bobbing, but I choose to do extensive blood work, health exams, and an MRI- all which turned up 100% normal. She was switched to Science Diet DD when this happened and for the past 4 years she has been on Nutro Natural Choice (Venison) and it has been great for her. Please know, if you're dog has this it does NOT hurt them while it is happening. In fact, they will become more anxious and stressed out if you begin to freak out and show them your stress. The best thing to "snap" them out of it is to do something that stimulates them to lick. I have Bailey lick peanut butter off my finger and she will immedietly stop bobbing. There are things that can trigger their bobbing also. Like extreme heat, high chemicals (like someone noted the air fresheners- I won't use these in my house because she is sensitive to anything with a strong scent). Her last bobbing incident was last year after she swam in a chlorine pool for the first time. I think she swallowed too much water and as soon as we got home that night she started bobbing. There is absolutely a direct link between their diet and chemicals to this head bobbing. I also agree with the yogurt, Bailey loves Activia, probiotics are great for dogs too. I keep a journal every single random time she has an episode and write down every change that could have brought it on, it's been really helpful to look back on. Bailey is doing great and is healthy, I don't restrict her from anything extreme I just use caution and smart thinking. In the case with my foster boxer, I believe his episode was brought on by extreme heat. I live in Texas and it's hot and humid. We were at a mobile adoption for about 5 hours with him, even though I tried my best to keep him cool, watered down, and in the shade- nothing competes with the Texas sun. He was overheated and that night he started bobbing. I let him bob just long enough to record a video and he snapped out of it as soon as he started licking the peanut butter off, and he's been fine since this happened 3 weeks ago. I wish there was this much info on it when she got diagnosed but it's great to know that there are so many helpful pet owners out there who are familiar with this. Anyway, I was just browing the internet and saw my video and thought I'd update for those that haven't read the videos comments. It's scary when it first happens but try to stay calm and snap them out of it as quickly as you can. Your dog can sense yout stress. Good luck to all! :)

michelle v 18 months ago

My dog is a golden retreiver mix, so is usually calm and lays around most of the day. All of a sudden around 5PM yesterday she started panting and pacing back and forth, then would stop and sit for about 30 seconds. everytime she would sit her head would go up and down, not fast like in the video here, but slowing like a human nodding yes. after about 4 hours of this i was starting to get scared. we are in the middle of a move, so she is stressed out and not eating well, nothing in over a day, so i forced some syrup and peanut butter in her mouth because she was refusing all her favorite foods. This did not make it go away. I was really getting scared but told myself to wait until morning. this was going on all night. she was asking me up all night pacing back and forth with her head nodding up and down. a few times she layed down but her head would not stop moving. I was so scared and have never seen her like this before. Around 3:30 in the morning it seemed like she was starting to calm down and even was able to go to sleep in 30 minute intervals. in the morning she was a little restless, my husband took her on a long walk and now all of those weird symptoms have seem to go away, around 8 AM. so over 12 hours she was having these symptoms. she is now sleeping most of the day, probably to make up for lack of sleep lat night. Im hoping it was just brought on by stress, which would explain the not eating, the pacing and not sleeping, but the head nodding is the only thing that really scared me. it was constant from 5pm until 3 Am. I took video of it so i can show the vet next time i go. Im just happy it went away and my furbaby seems to be ok. This was so scary. luckily i had her blood work and urine checked 3 weeks ago due to a UTI and everything was normal so that ruled out a lot of things i was reading online like diabetes and thyroid problems.

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alexadry 18 months ago from USA Author

I am sure your dog's head bobbing event must have been scary! I hope it was just an isolated incident. Good idea to catch on camera and show your vet for his professional opinion.

Delaney 16 months ago

Ya my yellow lab 6 years old just had this and i put him out side and hes fine now but i was scared about him because his live almost got taken by another disease and don't know if the head shaking is from that disease. Just like the boxer but instead of moving up and down my dog was moving his head side to side.

Nat 8 months ago

Thank you for the reassurance here. Was worried but am more relaxed about my little wobbly head puppy!

Caroline75 7 months ago

Hi guys 1 of my dogs a mastiff X staff had his first head tremor approx 6 months ago then nothing till last week they are now coming daily we have a referral to a neurologist but am concerned of how much to put my boy through to possibly at the end of testing to have zero answers

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alexadry 7 months ago from USA Author

The neurologist is the best person to ask this. These specialists have far more experience than the average vet when it comes to neurological issues. He/she will tell you what to expect, what tests he recommends and what results you can expect from undergoing the testing. In some cases, when a medical culprit is not found and the dog is not suffering in between events, the tremors are more annoying to us owners than they are to dogs.

Tyler 6 months ago

Just wanted to share that my Olde English Bulldog was having what appeared to be these head tremors last night. They were relatively mild, only lasting for a couple seconds, with 30 seconds to a minute in between. It was a distinct up and down shake. I could tell it was scaring him a bit because he was giving me a very confused look and would lay his head down to try and get it to stop. Other than that though he was his normal self, totally responsive and didn’t seem to be having any other side affects. We tried the sweet treats idea (giving him a few marshmallows) and took him for a walk and it completely stopped. No idea if this worked or if it was a coincidence, but he didn’t have any issues the rest of the night, and nothing so far this morning. hope this helps.

Kikie 6 weeks ago

I have not been able to find a head movement like my 12-wk-old Golden Retriever has. It's not a full-blown tremor. It happens constantly, but very mildly. His head can be stable, but if he pulls his head back towards his shoulders, there's a soft little wobble. I can make it happen by startling him or offering him an irresistible treat. It's really sort of cute, but I am concerned about it. Has anyone seen this less serious type of movement?

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