By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you’ve ever witnessed your dog or cat exhibiting a very odd and unusual posture such as staring off, seemingly disoriented while facing a wall or appearing stuck in a corner while pressing the head up against a wall or door, this behavior is not to be taken lightly. It’s called Head Pressing and can indicate a serious medical condition.

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Head Pressing is not to be confused with affectionate nuzzling or even more intense types of head butting or what’s known as “muzzle punching.” Instead, Head Pressing is very distressing as the dog or cat seems lost and disoriented, often pacing or sometimes circling, without response, until eventually hitting an obstacle such as a wall and remaining in a seemingly still state against it.

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This is difficult to watch and the dog may be completely unresponsive to your call. This can be symptomatic of damage to the nervous system or of an illness. I’ve witnessed it in dogs in the final stages of cancer and lyme disease. It can be symptomatic of a tumor, head trauma, encephalitis, stroke, metabolic problems, infection, toxic poisoning, among others.

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It’s important to see your vet right away.