A closer look: Head Pressing in Dogs
Head pressing is not commonly observed, and is a secondary symptom of a wide range of ailments, including canine cognitive dysfunction, liver disease, and tumors. Head pressing itself is not an emergency unless present with other symptoms indicating more urgency like seizures, collapse, or labored breathing.
Head pressing doesn’t present identically in each instance; one bout can involve the dog’s head fully in contact with a wall, while a second instance can involve them standing idly with their head hung low in front of a solid obstruction. The dog can be called out of this stance with or without clear disorientation presenting afterwards, but they will resume the behavior at some point when idle.
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Head pressing is frequently associated with cognitive dysfunction.
Head pressing is not common, but affects dogs of any size, age, or breed.
Since head pressing commonly results from serious disorders like canine cognitive dysfunction, liver disease, and tumors, veterinary attention is recommended.
Testing and diagnosis
In addition to physical exam and complete health history, further diagnostics may be recommended for a dog presenting with head pressing. Useful diagnostic tests include:
- Eye exam
- Blood-pressure measurement
- Blood work
- Diagnostic imaging
Treatment is dependent on the underlying condition.
Head pressing may be confused with head tilting or head turning, or a dog simply getting stuck in corners. When pressing, the dog’s head won’t be tilted to one side or alternating back and forth; the dog will be facing straight-on, unmoving, and not searching for a route around the obstruction.
The accompanying symptoms will vary depending on the underlying condition. Head pressing is often present in combination with other symptoms.