Head pressing

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Head pressing is a veterinary condition characterized by standing close to a wall or corner face-first without moving.[clarification needed] This condition is seen in pets such as dogs and cats, and also other animals such as cows, horses, and goats. Head pressing is usually a sign of a neurological disorder, especially of the forebrain (e.g., prosencephalon disease),[1] or of toxicity due to liver damage, such as Portosystemic shunt and hepatic encephalopathy.[2]

It should be distinguished from bunting, which is a normal behavior found in healthy animals.

Possible causes[edit]

  • Prosencephalon disease
  • Liver shunt
  • Brain tumor
  • Metabolic disorder (e.g., hyponatremia or hyperatremia)
  • Stroke
  • Infection of the nervous system (rabies, parasites, bacterial, viral or fungal infection)
  • Head trauma[3]

Liver neurotoxicity[edit]

A liver shunt is a congenital or acquired condition that may lead to toxicity and head pressing. Additional symptoms include drooling and slow maturation early in development. Older animals may suffer from liver cirrhosis.[citation needed]

Viral causes[edit]

Several viruses that cause encephalitis or meningoencephalitis can lead to the neurological sign of head pressing, see for example Eastern equine encephalitis virus and Bovine herpesvirus 5.[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/neurological/c_multi_headpressing
  2. ^ Cody W. Faerber; Cody W. Faerber, DVM,S. Mario Durrant, DVM,Jane Fishman Leon, DVM; S. Mario Durrant (1 June 1999). Canine Medicine and Disease Prevention. Animal Health Publications. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-9701159-1-1. 
  3. ^ "Dogs Who Head Press Should See A Vet ASAP. Recognizing This Behavior Could Save Your Dog's Life". DogHeirs. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  4. ^ D. Scott McVey; Melissa Kennedy; M. M. Chengappa (10 May 2013). Veterinary Microbiology. John Wiley & Sons. p. 573. ISBN 1-118-65056-5. 
  5. ^ Mark Gilberd (2005). Natural Remedies For Sheep Health. Mark Gilberd. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-9775330-2-2.