Why Do Dogs Shake

Dogs shaking or trembling can be a common occurrence that may not always be a cause for concern. However, it’s essential to understand the various reasons why dogs shake and when it may indicate a more serious problem. From environmental factors to medical conditions, there are several potential causes for a shaking dog. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different reasons behind a dog’s trembling and provide insights on when it’s time to seek help from a veterinarian.

Table of Contents

Cold Weather

Many dogs, especially those with thin coats or low body fat content, can get cold easily. Breeds like greyhounds and Dobermans are more prone to feeling chilly, even in relatively mild temperatures. Humidity and rain can make dogs feel even colder. If your dog is shaking due to the cold, providing them with a warm sweater or jacket and a cozy place to sleep can help alleviate their discomfort. However, if the shaking persists despite warming them up, it’s crucial to consult your vet to rule out any underlying medical issues.

Generalized Tremor Syndrome

Some small dog breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Miniature Pinschers, are known to tremble frequently. While experts haven’t pinpointed the exact cause, factors such as being more prone to feeling cold or experiencing heightened anxiety may contribute to generalized tremor syndrome in these dogs. If your small dog trembles excessively, especially if it worsens with stress or interferes with their daily activities, it’s advisable to consult your vet. They can assess your dog’s muscle tone and rule out any other potential reasons for the trembling. In some cases, corticosteroid treatment may be recommended for generalized tremor syndrome.

Sign of Muscle Weakness or Injury

Similar to humans, dogs can experience muscle weakness or injury that may cause them to tremble. Heavy exercise or exertion can lead to muscle quivering, and touching the affected area or attempting to stretch it may worsen the tremor. If your dog’s leg is shaking after physical activity or if the trembling is accompanied by a decrease in their activity level, it’s essential to consult your vet. They can evaluate the underlying cause of the trembling and provide appropriate treatment, which may include rest, medication, massage, or even surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.

Fear, Excitement, or Anxiety

Strong emotions such as fear, excitement, or anxiety can trigger trembling in dogs. If you observe that your dog’s shaking occurs in specific situations, such as during a visit to the vet, when meeting new people, or while on walks, it’s likely related to emotional factors. Seeking help from a veterinary behaviorist or certified dog behavior consultant can be beneficial in teaching your dog to feel more relaxed in such situations. Obedience trainers may not specialize in addressing emotional issues. In some cases, behavioral medications may be recommended if behavior modification techniques alone are not effective in reducing your dog’s anxiety-related shaking.

Diseases or Medical Reasons

There are several diseases and medical conditions that can cause dogs to shake. Distemper, neurological disorders, low blood calcium levels, and seizure disorders are just a few examples. Pay close attention to any other changes in your dog’s behavior, activity level, appetite, and bodily functions. If the trembling is accompanied by other symptoms or is relatively new, it’s crucial to schedule a comprehensive veterinary checkup. Your vet may need to perform blood work and other tests to determine the underlying cause of the shaking. While some conditions may be treatable or manageable, others can be more serious and require immediate attention. Vaccinating your dog against diseases like distemper can help prevent them.

Toxin Ingestion

Ingesting certain toxins can lead to shaking or trembling in dogs. Substances like mycotoxins (found in moldy food or garbage), metaldehyde (used as a pesticide for snails), insecticides, chocolate, and caffeine can be harmful to dogs and cause them to shake. If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxic substance or notice accompanying symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, it’s important to contact your vet or an animal poison control center immediately. Prompt action can help prevent further complications and ensure your dog receives the appropriate treatment.

How to Treat Shaking in Dogs

The treatment for a shaking dog depends on the underlying cause. In cases where the shaking is due to cold or excitement, simple measures like warming them up or providing a calm environment may suffice. However, if the shaking persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s essential to seek veterinary care. Some warning signs that warrant immediate attention include lethargy, anxiety, diarrhea, limping, or vomiting alongside the shaking. Your vet can conduct a thorough examination and recommend appropriate treatment options, which may include medication, supportive care, rest, or even surgery, depending on the diagnosis.

How to Prevent Dog Tremors

Preventing dog tremors largely depends on the underlying cause. Keeping your dog warm, providing them with a comfortable sleep environment, ensuring they receive regular preventive care, engaging them in regular exercise, and avoiding exposure to toxic substances can help minimize the risk of tremors. However, it’s crucial to monitor your dog’s behavior and seek veterinary advice if you notice any changes in their trembling pattern or if it occurs in conjunction with other symptoms. While some causes of shaking may not be preventable, early detection and intervention can improve your dog’s overall well-being.


Q: Why does my dog keep shaking his head?

A: Head shaking in dogs is often a response to discomfort or itchiness. It can be a normal behavior, but if it becomes excessive or is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s advisable to consult your vet.

Q: Why is my dog shaking and throwing up?

A: Shaking and vomiting in dogs can indicate a serious problem such as poisoning, injury, or underlying kidney disease. If you notice these symptoms, it’s crucial to contact your emergency veterinarian immediately.

Q: Why is my dog shaking after surgery?

A: Shaking and trembling can be normal after-effects of anesthesia in dogs. However, if the shaking persists beyond 24 hours or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s important to contact your vet for further evaluation.

In conclusion, dogs can shake or tremble for various reasons, ranging from benign causes like feeling cold or excited to more serious underlying medical conditions. Understanding the potential causes and recognizing when to seek veterinary help is essential for ensuring the well-being of your furry companion. By promptly addressing any concerns and following your vet’s guidance, you can help keep your dog healthy and happy.


No responses yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *