Head Pressing in Dogs: Why Your Dog is Pressing its Head Against the Wall

Head Pressing in Dogs: Why Your Dog is Pressing its Head Against the Wall

Head pressing in dogs can be indicative of a serious health issue. The dog will press their head into a solid object repetitively in an attempt to try and get some relief.

If your dog is pressing their head into the wall, they could have severe head trauma. Parasites, lead poisoning, or salt imbalances could also be the culprit. If you see your pup’s head pressing, take them to the vet to rule out disease or serious injury.

Many pet parents have never heard of head pressing, so education is important. If your dog is head pressing, this article may help you understand why, so you can better help your pup.

head pressing in dogs lake city fl

What Exactly is Head Pressing?

Head pressing is a disorder in which a canine or feline pushes their head against a wall. It may look like a meaningless animal performance, but it could indicate a serious health matter. It could mean that there is an injury to the nervous system. If you discover your companion pressing their head against a wall, get them to the vet right away.

What Are the Reasons for Head Pressing?

If your dog presses their head against you, it is a sweet, endearing behavior, and your canine companion may be asking you for affection. However, if your dog is pressing their head against a wall, it could signify something is wrong. The following include some of the possible reasons why your pup may be doing this:

Salt Imbalances

Hyponatremia occurs in dogs when their sodium levels decrease and there is too much water in the body’s cells. This imbalance causes the cells to swell, which includes the brain cells. A sodium deficiency often leads to neurological symptoms. Some of the indicators of decreased sodium in your pup include:

  • Bloating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Disorientation
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor appetite
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Dogs require salt for their cells to function, and the suggested minimum amount of sodium for a canine is about 100 mg for every 100 calories of food, which is about 0.3 percent. Sodium plays an essential role in balancing the body’s electrolytes. A small amount of sodium is necessary to perform nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and effectively maintain water and minerals in the body.

Low salt may occur if your dog drinks a lot of water, whether it is from their water bowl, when they have been swimming in a pool, or when they have been outside drinking from a sprinkler. Hyponatremia requires veterinary care, typically from an increase in total body water and not from loss of sodium. Your vet will need to correct the electrolyte imbalance.

Vomiting and diarrhea are also common causes of low sodium in dogs. If your pup has a sodium imbalance, they may respond by pressing their head against the wall, triggering the brain to swell.

Head Trauma

Dogs’ most common sources of head trauma include car accidents, falling from a high place, or playing too roughly with another dog or cat. Dogs can get a concussion from any of these things occurring. Most of the time, pups make a full recovery from a concussion. However, if you do not immediately seek treatment for your dog, it can cause permanent brain damage.

Dogs can also have swelling and brain bleeding. Bleeding in the brain causes enhanced pressure inside the skull, resulting in more nerve and brain damage. When swelling, the brain becomes too big for the skull, which decreases the brain’s functionality. Some of the symptoms of head trauma are:

  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Hemorrhage from the ears or nose
  • Variations in pupil size
  • Difficulty walking
  • Impaired limb movement
  • Lack of energy or weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

If you see any of these threatening signs, get your canine to the vet immediately, as head trauma can permanently injure the brain and even cause death. Head trauma can cause your pup to press their head against the wall to alleviate the pain triggered by the injury.

Brain Tumors

Brain tumors in dogs can be either benign or cancerous. It may be graded as a primary site or a secondary site. A primary brain tumor originates from cells in the brain, while secondary brain growths have spread to the brain from the main tumor or an additional body area. Some of the indicators of a brain tumor include:

  • Constant circling around
  • Lack of coordination
  • Sensitivity to discomfort or contact in the neck area
  • Sight problems

The most common warning sign of a brain tumor is convulsions. Difficulty swallowing or voice changes can also be symptoms. Brain tumors can impact any part of the brain, which can cause a wide array of problems in dogs. The growth of the tumor can be so severe that it harms the nervous system, and the irritation can lead to head pressing.


A stroke is triggered by decreased blood flow to brain sections, leading to neurological problems. Dogs cannot tell us how they feel, which means that if a pup has a minor stroke, it may go unnoticed. However, massive strokes are more common in dogs. Some of the indicators of strokes in dogs are:

  • Abnormal eye movement
  • Falling to one side
  • Head tilting
  • Inability to walk

Strokes can be triggered by blood clots, inflammation, or bleeds in the brain. The severity of a stroke is contingent on how long the brain goes devoid of blood flow. A stroke is something that, unfortunately, does not always come with apparent symptoms. It could be that the only warning a pet parent will see is head pressing.

Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning occurs when elevated levels of lead are discovered in the blood. Older homes and buildings can be a common place for lead, as they may have dust or chips from lead paint. Lead could also be uncovered in toys, batteries, bullets, soldering equipment, fishing sinkers, and pottery glazes. Indicators of lead poisoning are:

  • Blindness
  • Diarrhea
  • High Anxiety
  • Lack of appetite
  • Regurgitation
  • Vomiting

When lead is ingested, it is more dangerous. However, it can be absorbed by contact with the skin or inhaled. Lead poisoning often happens progressively over time. If a dog is exposed to lead on a long-term basis, it can cause lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can lead to brain destruction and head pressing.


Rabies is an insidious and fatal disease, and it is zoonotic, meaning it can be spread to both animals and people. Rabies can be given to dogs through the bite of a contaminated animal, such as a raccoon, coyote, fox, or bat. Once rabies symptoms are present, it cannot be treated, and death is imminent. Symptoms of rabies:

  • Consumption of foreign objects
  • Excessive drooling
  • Frothing from the mouth
  • Bizarre worry about water

Another sign is that the canine becomes light-sensitive to sound and movement. The only good news about rabies is that it is 100 percent preventable with the rabies vaccine. You must have your pup vaccinated against this devastating illness and follow your state’s guidelines regarding vaccination rules.


Fleas are the most common parasite seen in dogs. A single flea bite can trigger excessive itching in your pup. If you believe your dog has fleas, take a paper towel and collect the dirt on your pup’s fur; it should look like coffee grounds. If what your seeing is definitely fleas, the dirt will turn reddish brown.

If your dog has small white ovals in their fur, they are likely flea eggs. Some of the indications of fleas in canines include:

  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Hair loss due to excessive scratching
  • Pale gums
  • Tapeworms

Ticks can cause many problems for dogs, as they can transmit diseases through their bite. Tick bites can induce the destruction of the pup’s nervous system. Rocky Mountain fever and Lyme disease are two examples of tick-borne diseases that can lead to head pressing in dogs.


how to treat head pressing in dogs

The treatment for head pressing depends on the underlying cause or reason for it. If you see your dog has any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, get them to the vet immediately, as early treatment is often the path towards a positive outcome.

For dogs in the Lake City, FL region, Lake City Animal Hospital is here to help. Give us a call at (386) 755-0236 or book an appointment online.

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