Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Pressing Head into Corners an Emergency?

80.56% survey participants checked choking as being an emergency.

Ok, I  concede this sounds quite weird and more like a trick question than something that could be an emergency situation. Surely this sounds harmless enough?

Not so fast.

Head pressing indicates damage to the nervous system. The potential causes you're looking at are damage to the forebrain and thalamus, brain inflammation, stroke,  brain tumor, an infection of the nervous system, toxins, liver shunt, stroke or acute head trauma.

Does that change your mind about whether or not head pressing is an emergency?

Accompanying symptoms can include issues with balance, disorientation, vision problems and seizures.

Pressing head into corners or against objects should be treated as an emergency.

Related articles:
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
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Is Choking an Emergency?

Do you know what your dog is telling you about their health?

Learn how to detect and interpret the signs of a potential problem.

An award-winning guide to better understanding what your dog is telling you about their health, Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, is available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.


  1. I had read about this a while back ... had never known about it. Now I do! So many things to know.

    1. Yeah. Some things are more obvious than other. Head pressing is one of the things that you might not consider serious unless you know it is.

  2. Head pressing definitely sounds like an emergency. Poor Ginger! It was good to see what to watch for in the (heartbreaking) video. Thank you for bringing attention to this.

  3. That would definitely call for a trip to the vet. Damage to the nervous system is no joke.

  4. I was discussing this in a class the other day, and I think it's something people miss quite often! It tends to be viewed as a weird quirk until it's more physically evident there is an issue, and spreading this info to help people understand it, is so so important!

    1. Yes, something with something like this you need to know. Else you might consider it a quirk.

  5. Wow, I didn't know liver shunts were so common in Yorkies. My previous dog was a Yorkie and Ruby is a Yorkie-mix.

    Poor little Ginger. This was truly heartbreaking to watch. But I'm glad to have this information and know what to watch for.

    1. Liver shunt, of course, is a congenital defect so it wouldn't "just crop up" in an adult dog.

  6. Head pressing is absolutely an emergency as it usually denotes an issue with seizures or in the case of my family's boxers- brain tumors.

  7. Love Dr. Becker! Having a breed with neurological conditions, this is one symptom we work hard at educating new Cavalier parents about. Thanks for sharing Dr. Becker's video.

  8. I read about head pressing last year. I had never heard of it before and was so surprised to hear that it can be something very serious. I'm so glad I was educated about head pressing so if I ever see it happening, with my own pets or someone else's, I can act upon it. Very important and little know issue.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  9. I tend to err on the side of treating most things like an emergency, lol. It's not easy on the pocketbook, but this is the kind of thing that would make me super concerned. It's a great message to remind people of because it isn't the most obvious symptom of what could be a huge problem.

  10. I didn't know about this until reading it on a blog a couple of years ago. I learned that when a dog presses his head against the wall that it is an emergency.


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