Why Is My Dog Shaking?

By helloBARK!
Updated on 23 June 2023

Have you noticed your dog is shaking a lot?

It can be confusing and worrying to see your dog shaking, especially if you’ve never seen your canine companion do this previously.

I’ve experienced this uncomfortable situation with my female Alaskan Klee Kai who sometimes will start shaking.

In this article, we spoke to a number of experts to learn more about the possible reasons why a dog may start shaking.

If you’re worried about your dog shaking a lot, you should make an appointment with your vet before you start reading this article.

While we feature experts in this article, it isn’t meant to act as a substitute for a consult with your vet.

Ongoing shaking would be a reason to see a vet

Dr Linda Simon, Veterinary Consult For Dogaspet.com

Shaking is not a specific sign and is something we see commonly in dogs. If your dog is shaking, try to assess their environment. Could they be warm or cold? Are there loud noises over head, such as fireworks or a storm? Does your dog perhaps have other signs such as drooling, food refusal or lethargy?

Shaking has many potential causes including anxiety, nausea, a fever or a source of pain. It helps to assess the ‘whole dog’ and determine if they have anything else going on other than the shaking. If they do seem anxious, see if a cuddle and some reassurance helps. Nervous dogs also generally appreciate distractions such as food puzzles, chews and background noise such as the radio.

Ongoing shaking or shaking accompanied by other signs (such as a limp or food refusal) would be reason to see a vet. They can examine your dog and get to the bottom of the shaking. Treatment would then depend on what is going on and could include e.g. some pain relief or medicine to take a fever down.

Japanese Spitz (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Japanese Spitz (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Dr. Alex Schechter, DVM At Burrwood Vet

Here are a few potential reasons:

• Cold: If your dog is shaking and the weather is cold, it’s possible that they are simply trying to warm themselves up.

• Fear or anxiety: Dogs may shake or tremble when feeling fearful or anxious. This could be due to loud noise, a new environment, or separation anxiety.

• Pain or illness: If your dog is shaking its head and also whimpering, yelping, or showing signs of discomfort, it might be in pain. In such cases, ensure to take them to the vet to identify the source of the pain and get them the treatment they need.

• Excitement: When a dog is enthusiastic, such as when they see their favorite person or are about to go on a walk, they may shake.

• Age: As dogs age, they may develop certain conditions (such as arthritis) that can cause them to shake or tremble.

• Underlying Medical Condition: There may be other serious reasons for shaking due to underlying medical conditions like epilepsy, kidney disease, or hypoglycemia. If your pet’s head shaking is persistent, accompanied by symptoms such as lethargy or loss of appetite, it’s essential to bring them to the vet for diagnosis. If your pet suddenly starts shivering, take note of the other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping- and talk to your vet immediately.

• There are several other possible causes of shaking in dogs, including distemper, generalized tremor syndrome(GTS), and nausea.

• Toxin Ingestion: Also, be aware that certain toxins or poisons can be harmful to dogs and cause tremors or shaking. For example, chocolate, cigarettes, xylitol (a sugar substitute found in many chewing gums), and snail baits containing metaldehyde can all be toxic to dogs. Identifying the underlying cause and providing appropriate treatment to help your furry friend feel better is important.

They’re cold

Josh Snead, CEO Of Rainwalk Pet Insurance

Dogs might shake for a number of reasons, the simplest of which may be that they’re cold. Other reasons include stress and anxiety—when a dog is shaking for these reasons, it will usually be accompanied by other indicators such as drooling, whining, and stiff posture and body language. Another reason your dog may shake is from pain. Again, it’s important to pay attention to other factors to determine if this is the case, such as stiff movement, yelping, or reduced appetite. In any case, if anything about your dog’s behavior has changed and they begin shaking, the best plan is usually to consult a vet as soon as possible.

Scottish Terrier (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Scottish Terrier (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Assess Overall Situation

Lazhar Ichir, Founder Of Breeding Business

There are several reasons why shaking may occur, such as feeling cold, being excited, experiencing stress or anxiety, seeking attention, being in pain or ill, or due to old age. It is crucial to distinguish between normal shaking and the symptoms of a seizure!

If you want to stop your dog’s shaking, first, assess the overall situation and try to remove any environmental stressors that could be causing your dog to become anxious or overly excited. These could include new people or animals, a new environment, loud noises like fireworks, or strange objects.

If your pup is wet or cold, dry them off or warm them up with a towel or blanket. Keeping your dog warm, dry, relaxed, up-to-date on their vaccinations and out of paw’s reach from poisons can help prevent the most common reasons for shaking.

If you’re unsure why your dog is shaking, you should always speak to your vet, especially if you’re concerned about them or if the shaking is new, severe or accompanied by other signs.

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