Why Is Your Dog Shaking?

Why Is my dog shaking - feature image

A dog trembling or shaking can be down to a variety of reasons. In some rare instances, shaking in your pet could be a cause for concern and an emergency if the dog has health issues, but it could also be something not to worry much about, e.g. if the dog has separation anxiety.

Fortunately, most of the time you’ll find that the issue of a dog shaking does not warrant immediate medical attention. In this article, we look at some answers to your question ‘why is my dog shaking?’.

8 Reasons For Shaking In Dogs

1. Feeling Cold

Why do dogs shake? In one way, it could simply be shivering in reaction to cold temperature, just like you. This dog trembling effect is especially true for small breeds such as chihuahuas. Small breeds usually have a thin coat, thus receive less protection from the elements.

Small breeds also burn energy faster than larger breeds, therefore lose heat much quicker. Additionally, most small breeds find themselves shivering due to a lack of sufficient body fat to cope with the cold weather.

If you have a small canine companion, consider adding some insulation if you live in a cold place and dress them in a pair of booties to maintain their body temperature during winter.

One of the things you can do is to give your pet foods high in quality proteins such as salmon, which give them expedient nutrition. Quality proteins from salmon-based food contain a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are readily used by animals for energy.

Don’t let your dog lie on a cold hard floor or take a cold bath, that’s sure to chill them to the bone. You might also have taken your dog out on their walk, and they encountered water from a stream. It’s natural for a dog to shake themselves, to get rid of the excess water from their fur, and in a way, helps to prevent hypothermia.

2. An Intense Of Emotions

In most circumstances, one reason dogs shake is because of stress-induced trembling or excitement. Both situations can be controlled. You can employ some training drills to help the dog relax in some settings or help them overcome their fears. Your vet can recommend the right type of remedy in most cases.


Certain circumstances, such as seeing you back home or the feeling that you’re about to take them for a walk might lead to shaking in your dog because of excitement. This behavior is not an emergency, but an emotion that your dog dissipates after it calms its nerves. When the dog shakes due to excitement, it lowers their surplus energy, making them tired and out of character.

If you’re wondering ‘why is my dog shaking?’, note that excitement and similar behaviors are often observed in puppies more than adult dogs. It’s a good idea to give your pup less attention until they calm down, then reward them with a gentle stroke and treats afterward. Continue with this training until they stop the unwanted conduct.

Fear And Anxiety

One of the most common reasons for a dog to shake is because of stress, brought about by certain situations such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or unfamiliar environments. If the shivering in dogs is accompanied by panting, this is usually a sign of stress, pain, or discomfort. The pooch might also pin their ears back and hide due to fear.

Your dog might have anxiety when meeting strangers or when you take her to the vet. In any case, a surge of adrenaline occasioned by fear, triggers the dog’s nervous system, making them shake. You can reduce your dog’s anxiety by continuously introducing them to different environments and events throughout their lifetime.

Shaking In Dog - Pet Information

3. Toxic Ingestion

Some dogs may pick up and eat almost anything during walks. Dog shivering, sudden nausea, shakes, or digestive issues can be attributed to them eating something they shouldn’t have.

When ingested, chocolate, chemical poisons, medication, and some plants can make the dog shake, sometimes uncontrollably. You might also be feeding your dog the wrong foods, that are making them sick. Protect them by providing them with the right nutrients that come from high-quality food.

Other symptoms, like diarrhea and vomiting, usually accompany poisoning. Additionally, your dog may also show signs of lethargy or weakness. If you suspect your dog or puppy has ingested toxins, contact your veterinarian for help immediately.

4. Suffering From Pain

Just like humans, dogs are prone to aches and pains the older they get. Dogs in their later years are especially prone to arthritis in their hind legs. Suffering from this condition or something else leads to the dog shaking.

If there’s no apparent injury, you should rightly ask yourself, “why is my dog shaking.” No one but the veterinarian is in a better position to know exactly why your dog is in pain. After a thorough diagnosis, the vet offers an appropriate solution, with appropriate treatment for the problem.

5. Muscles Weakening

Trembling in dogs can be caused by muscle weakness. The leg of the dog (particularly the rear legs) can be seen shaking in this case. With enough time to rest, the dog usually recovers. However, if it takes too long for the pets to recover, take them to the veterinarian who might suggest exercises to strengthen the muscle or other treatments like massage.

Why Do Dogs Shake Or Tremble

6. Generalized Tremor Syndrome

Generalized tremor syndrome can bring about muscle tremors throughout the dog’s body. This condition usually occurs in puppies, and fortunately, it’s easy to treat. Vets prescribe a drug called corticosteroids, and you should see improvement in the animal’s shivering within a week.

This stressor is also called responsive tremor syndrome and white shaker syndrome. Despite the ailment getting the white shaker syndrome name due to it being discovered in small breeds, with white coats mostly, it can affect any dog breed, despite their size.

7. Other Underlying Medical Conditions

It’s common for a dog to tremble because it’s suffering in pain from conditions like distemper, seizure disorders, kidney disease, Addison disease, among others. The animal could also have a fever, offset by poisoning, infections, or even vaccination. Fever is usually accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy, coughing, seizures, vomiting, loss of appetite, a warm nose, and ears.

If your dog suddenly trembles, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible, since this reaction may be a symptom of several diseases. A veterinarian is the only person with the capacity to point out the exact causes of the fever, how serious it is, and the next cause of action.

Also, pay attention to any other signs out of the norm – like a sudden change in the dog’s behavior, body language, or physical state as these may be due to pain. Keep tabs on the dog, and relay what you observe to the veterinarian.

8. Transmitted With Canine Distemper Virus

Canine distemper is a contagious virus that mostly affects pups. [1] This condition is usually accompanied by symptoms like fever, coughing, eye, and nose discharge. In some cases, it can cause seizures and shakes.

Make sure you vaccinate your pup to ensure his health and significantly lower the chances of him getting the disease. Vaccination also prevents secondary infections to other pets in the neighborhood.

Take your pooch to the vet for treatment if you suspect or notice symptoms of canine distemper. There is no cure for the disease, but the veterinarian will give your dog antibiotics and intravenous fluids. These two elements should help your pet’s immune system fight off the virus.

What Should You Do When You See Your Dog Shaking?

The actions you take when a dog is shaking depend on what is making them shake in the first place. Your pet could simply be excited or it may be a sign that he has a serious illness. For the latter, you should consult your vet immediately. Learning to differentiate whether your dog is shivering for ordinary reasons or is suffering from pain is key.

Pet Dog Health Problems And Medications

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do older dogs shake?

Older dogs shake because they are at an increased risk for disorders that cause cognitive deterioration and trembling. Unfortunately, you can’t reverse the decline. But, you can work with your vet to find treatments and therapies to help reduce discomfort, thus supporting your pet through their senior years.

Moreover, as they age, the dog’s bones, joints, and ligaments become weaker. This degradation of the anatomy then leads to pain, which triggers the dog shaking. Arthritis is a common joint condition for older dogs and people as well. If your old dog is shaking, consult your vet, who should prescribe the appropriate medication and care to your aging pets.

What do tremors look like in a dog?

Trembling in a dog looks like repetitive, rhythmic, and involuntary movement of the muscles, which contract and relax. The motion can be mild or severe, even preventing actions like walking or eating sometimes. Trembling may be localized in one area (for example, the head) or over the entire frame.

A seizure can look like trembling, but it’s unmistakably different once you know what to look at. For one, seizures usually happen when the dog’s unconscious or less aware of his surroundings.

How long do tremors last in dogs?

Trembling can last anywhere from a few seconds to hours in dogs. However, most episodes don’t last longer than five minutes. Some others are especially severe, happening longer than a few minutes or occurring in clusters. Such incidents warrant an immediate trip to the veterinarian.

Since trembling can be an ongoing issue, keep a log of when they occur, how long they last, and any other accompanying signs or symptoms. Relay the same information to your vet, who can help you recognize the factors that trigger such problems in your dog.


If you were asking yourself ‘why is my dog shaking?’, now you know. However, a word of warning – visit the vet as soon as possible, if the reasons why your dog is shaking is not apparent to you or they are showing any additional symptoms. Apparent causes like a change of environment or thunderstorms can be ignored for a reasonable amount of time- until the situation has passed.

Other symptoms like lethargy and vomiting should cause alarm because they may be a sign of a medical problem. Act quickly, because the sooner you do, the faster you’ll guarantee your pet’s well-being.