Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Why Is My Dog Shaking?

Learn the common reasons for dogs to shake.

Have you ever seen your dog shaking and wondered what could be going on? Here are the main reasons dogs shake.

Have your dog checked out by a veterinarian to determine the cause of any observed shaking and make sure it is treated appropriately.

Dogs Might Shake from Certain Emotions

Some dogs shake when they are feeling certain emotions, usually fear, anxiety, or extreme excitement. Not all dogs do this, and it seems to be more common in small dogs, but if you notice that your dog shakes every time someone new comes over or right before it's time for treats or a meal, emotions might be the cause.

Perhaps one of the more common causes of emotional shaking in dogs is the case of thunderstorms. Many dogs that otherwise never shake might do so just before or during a big storm. Sometimes you can help these dogs by putting them in their crate or a small room during the storm with soothing music playing to mute some of the noise.

Other dogs might feel more comfortable during storms if they're wearing a thundershirt, which applies a small amount of pressure to their torso and makes many dogs feel calmer. Veterinarians will sometimes prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help dogs with their thunderstorm fear. However, you should never give any of your own anti-anxiety medications to your dog because they might be toxic or the dose could be wrong for them.

Shaking Can Indicate Pain in Dogs

Shaking or trembling is common in dogs that are experiencing pain. Some common situations in which many dogs that are painful begin to shake are:

  • Back pain from IVDD
  • Abdominal pain from pancreatitis, foreign body obstruction of the stomach or intestine, kidney disease, GDV (bloat), or another internal process

If your dog begins shaking or trembling and it is associated with excessive panting, dry heaving, vomiting, limping, lethargy, or reluctance to move, it may be an emergency, and you should have your dog checked out immediately.

Muscle Atrophy or Weakness Can Cause Dogs to Shake

Dogs with muscle weakness due to age-related arthritis or other medical conditions can have frequent or constant trembling in their legs. This is most often seen in the hind limbs of older dogs, which might shake when the dog is standing still, getting up from a lying down position, or climbing stairs.

Dogs Might Shake from Increased or Decreased Body Temperature

Dogs with a low internal body temperature (those that are hypothermic) may shiver in an attempt to generate body heat. Dogs with a high internal body temperature (those with a fever) may shiver as their temperature starts to come down again when the fever breaks.

Shaking in Dogs Might Indicate a Toxin Exposure

Dogs that suddenly begin shaking, especially when they've never done so before, might be experiencing a serious sudden medical condition. For example, when a dog ingests slug and snail bait, they can experience muscle tremors that look like shaking. In fact, veterinarians term the condition "Shake and Bake Syndrome" because dogs suffering from it experience and increased body temperature along with the shaking. You can learn more here: "Slug and Snail Bait Poisoning in Dogs."

You May Also Like These Articles:

Bloat in Dogs: Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)

Cold Weather Tips for Dogs

Kidney Disease in Dogs

IVDD: Intervertebral Disc Disease in Dogs

Pancreatitis in Dogs

Diabetes in Dogs

Hypothyroidism in Dogs

Panosteitis in Dogs: Growing Pains

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