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Causes of Head Tilt in Dogs
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
Nerve and Muscle Conditions
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Q. Is head tilt something serious?
 
A. A Labrador Retriever with a head tilt
There are a number of reasons a dog may have a head tilt. Dogs with a head tilt may also experience a loss of balance, or walk in a circle. In general, head tilt is caused by an abnormality of the vestibular system, which includes portions of the inner ear, nerves, and brain which help the body maintain balance. The most common cause of head tilt is a middle or inner ear infection, or an infection or inflammation of the brain. Other causes include, hypothyroidism, injury to nerves, cancer, toxic side effects of certain antibiotics, and congenital defects. Some older dogs develop a temporary head tilt from an unknown cause. This is sometimes called 'old dog vestibular disease.' Until your veterinarian determines otherwise, head tilt should be considered a sign of a serious disease, and veterinary attention should be sought as soon as possible.

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