What is Head Pressing and Why Worry?

VSSF Admin - Monday, February 02, 2015
Unfortunately, our pets don’t have the language to tell us when something doesn’t feel right. But their health can fail in myriad ways and there is almost always a change in behavior that can clue a pet-owner in to there being something wrong. One such signal, an important one, is called “head pressing.”

Head pressing happens with both dogs and cats and involves the animal pressing the top of its head against a hard surface. If you see your pet doing this, call your vet immediately.

There are several health issues head pressing might indicate. They include anything from a neurological disorder to liver damage. It can even indicate a rabies infection or some kid of parasite.

If the problem is your pet’s liver – called a liver shunt – the behavior is due to toxins building up in the body because the infected organ can no longer filter them safely out of the animal’s system. This condition is usually genetic and hereditary. If it’s neurological, it could be a brain tumor or a stroke or even the result of head trauma. Encephalitis and meningoencephalitis are also common causes.

Some of the causes are unavoidable, but keeping your pet up-to-date on vaccines and well visits can help prevent rabies and parasite infestations. Treatment and prognosis depend on the cause of the head pressing, but seeking treatment as soon as possible will increase your pet’s recovery chances.

Keep in mind that head pressing is not the same as when cats rub their heads and faces against surfaces to mark territory or when dogs or cats rub their heads up against people and other animals affectionately – head butting. It is the prolonged pressing of the head against a stationary, hard surface.
Other symptoms are
  • Seizures.
  • Pushing the head into the ground.
  • Problems with vision.
  • Pacing and walking in circles.
  • Problems with reflexes.
  • Getting stuck in corners.
  • Staring at walls.

Pets and Stress Relief

VSSF Admin - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stress is a part of daily life; most people have found a proactive way to deal with or even work under the pressure. For those who own pets, you may not even realize that being in the company of your furry friend is a massive stress relief.

A pet’s playful and loving nature immediately lifts your spirits and their constant need for your attention and unconditional love has a positive effect on a pet owner’s confidence, making them feel important, loved, needed, and most importantly, relaxed. Therefore, it is not a surprise that many therapists tend to keep tiny animals (such as hamsters) in their office because they put children (as well as adults) at ease in an otherwise anxiety prone environment.

Dog owners realize the importance of taking their pet out for a walk, making it a part of their own daily routine. This custom acts as a stress reliever because exercise releases endorphins, our body’s ‘feel good hormone’, which gives us the boost we desperately need, subsequently decreasing ‘stress hormones’ such as cortisol.

While people provide good social support, pets act as a great icebreaker for meeting new people. There is a reason why a majority of romance movies follow the same cliché of having the protagonists meet for the first time in a park where one (or both) is walking a dog. The basic premise behind this is that we appear  more approachable because instead of the daunting task of having to converse with somebody you are meeting for the first time, you can talk to (and through) the furry animal with the loving eyes. Increasing our network of friends also has great stress relief benefits in the long run.

Talk to your vet today about how you can include your pet in daily activities, allowing you to manage your stress even better. Pets are loyal by nature, and most can sense your emotions in times of suffering and pain. Let them take care of you in their own loving ways. 

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