Head Pressing in Pets

Both dogs and cats butt their heads and rub against us when looking for food or attention or just to show love. But head pressing is a different behavior.

If you see your dog or cat pressing the top of the head against furniture, walls, floors or any hard surfaces for no discernable reason, it could mean something seriously wrong that needs your vet’s attention as soon as possible. Head pressing can be a medical emergency.

The cause of head pressing is usually a neurological problem, a damaged nervous system or metabolic disorder. Here’s a short list of some reasons for head pressing.

Liver Shunt – When an abnormal blood vessel develops outside the liver and remains open, it is a liver shunt. In animals with liver shunts, can build up in the blood or kidneys causing many physical and medical problems.

Stroke – A brain dysfunction occurring when normal blood supply to the brain is interrupted.

Head Trauma – Any injury to the head or brain or medical issue such as hydrocephalus or cancer.

Poisoning – Head pressing can be caused by the ingestion of toxic substances.

Encephalitis – An inflammation of the brain or spinal cord that can occur due to infection (viral or bacterial), skull fracture, wounds, parasites or fungi.

Distemper – A highly contagious airborne viral disease that can cause damage to the nervous system.

There could be other reasons for head pressing such as degenerative diseases and conditions. Head pressing can be accompanied by seizures, changes in behavior, poor vision, reduced reflexes, pacing.

Head pressing is a serious condition, an indication of something wrong that requires prompt attention at the vet.

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