It may look cute, but if you see your dog pressing its head into a wall or other surface, it’s time to go to the vet. No, your dog probably doesn’t think it’s in time out and isn’t head-desking after a frustrating day. It’s almost always a sign of neurological issues, mostly caused by skull or brain injury, brain-related illness, poisoning, or hepatic encephalopathy, which is associated with toxin buildup from liver disease.
While many of us are inclined to believe that our dog is just being a delightful weirdo when they do uncharacteristic things, head pressing is a serious issue and you need to visit the vet right away. Here are a few other things to consider when trying to decipher what might be head pressing
Does your dog have other symptoms?
If your dog has any bizarre symptoms around eating or drinking, changes in their urine or stool, or differences in gait or balance, it’s definitely a sign that something is off. Walking in circles, standing in corners, pacing, or just staring off at nothing are all associated with neurological issues and would point to head pressing as a related symptom. In general, if your dog seems odd to you in any way, that paired with head pressing warrants a trip to the vet.
How consistent is the head pressing?
If your dog presses its head into you momentarily in a typical head bonk fashion, especially close to your face, it may just be a one-off. Watch your dog closely for a while to see if anything else happens that might be head pressing. Especially look for instances where your dog presses its head against something harder and still.
Is it consistent with playful behavior?
Sometimes dogs will lean into things while rolling around and being silly. Head pressing is more ongoing and uncharacteristic in nature. If it happens briefly as part of play, it may just be a behavior associated with rolling over or baiting you into a game. That said, if it happens more than once, especially outside of playtime, it’s potentially serious.
If you have any concerns, just go to the vet. Yes, you take a hit financially if it’s nothing, but you are potentially saving much more than money if you wind up catching something. This isn’t a watch and wait type of situation. If you’re even somewhat suspicious that this is head pressing, it’s best to get your dog checked out for liver issues, head injury or neurological conditions. It may just save your dog’s life.