Why Does My Dog Shake? Unraveling Canine Shivers

Why Does My Dog Shake? Unraveling Canine Shivers

Our dogs can shake and tremble the moment they see us coming in from the outside or when we're about to throw a ball for them to fetch. This is what joy and excitement can look like from a beloved furbaby. But what does it mean when you suddenly see your dog shivering? Here are the most common reasons why your dogs shake:

It's Cold

Just like humans, dogs shake when the environment is cold. This is our bodies' involuntary response to help us warm up. Dogs shiver to get their blood pumping to help raise body temperature and avoid hypothermia. This happens more often to small breed dogs such as Chihuahuas because of the lack of body mass and insulation.

They're Excited

As mentioned earlier, every hooman knows dogs get excited especially when you return home. They shake or shiver. And this is nothing to worry about. This is our little furbabies' way of expressing happiness and will eventually stop once they get calm again.

They're Stressed

Dogs shiver or tremble when they are stressed, scared, or anxious. This can be from a variety of causes, such as hearing loud noises, fireworks, thunderstorms, or meeting new people. A trip to the vet can also be a cause for their shaking. 

Other signs of stress in dogs include pacing, barking, posture changes, or appetite loss. If you see these signs, reassure them and try to get rid of the source of stress. Stay calm and try to redirect their attention.

They're in Pain

If given the chance, every dog owner would want to be able to talk with their doggos, and vice versa. Since this is a true improbability, we can only speak with each other through various sets of signals and behaviors. If a dog is in pain, shivering may be the way for them to tell us.

Shaking and muscle tremors can be signs of serious medical conditions such as hypoglycemia, distemper, or Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS). Or it could be something as common as nausea, cold, or fever. If the shaking is temporary, it may not be that big of a deal. No one knows your dog better than you, so if you notice something off about them, you'll know when to seek professional help.

They're Old

Just like us humans, dogs shake when they get older, especially when walking. Their muscles weaken, causing them to tremble when moving around. It can also be due to their difficulty regulating body temperature, thus shaking from the cold.

They Want Attention

Every fur parent thinks their babies are the smartest in the whole wide world. And maybe they're right, dogs are indeed intelligent creatures. They are known to play mind games with us, so it could be that their trembling is their way to get your undivided attention. 

They may turn on the shivers because they want us to pet them or get sympathy (translation: food). It often works because we give them attention when we see them shaking. Although this is harmless, you should not be encouraging it.

They Have Distemper

Canine distemper is something serious and needs immediate attention. Your dog may be shaking because of a virus they caught from another infected dog. Symptoms of distemper include shivering, a runny nose, on and off fever, coughing, nasal discharge, and convulsions.

You must visit your vet right away if you suspect they have this condition. In addition, vaccinating your pups is important to prevent them from getting this terrible disease.

They Suffer from Ear Problems

If your dog's shivering is accompanied by head shakes, they may be suffering from ear problems. Excessive head shaking may be due to an infection of the ears, with some dog breeds being more prone than others. Golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, and basset hounds are the likely candidates. 

If you notice their ears red, inflamed, and smelly, bring them to your vet immediately.

They're Poisoned

Being a responsible pet owner means learning about things that can poison our furry companions. That said, a shivering dog may mean they were exposed to or have ingested poison, certain medications, insecticides, or even certain foods. A few of the more common ones are the following:

  • Chocolate
  • Cigarette butts
  • Nicotine patches
  • Xylitol
  • Caffeine
  • Macadamia nuts

If you suspect your dog is poisoned, call your vet immediately or contact Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435.

They Have Low Blood Sugar

Dog shivering can be due to low blood sugar. When this happens, your dog's muscles are starved of glucose, resulting in cramping and muscle twitching. There are several causes for this, such as diabetes, Xylitol consumption, or a pancreatic tumor. 

Keep your dog on a well-balanced diet with a routine feeding schedule to prevent this from happening. However, only a veterinarian can diagnose, so it's best to consult one if you see these symptoms.

They Have Neurological Issues

Many neurologic disorders can cause trembling in dogs. A few issues you need to look out for are little white shaker syndrome, cerebellar hypoplasia, and episodic head tremors, among others. Many neurologic disorders can cause trembling in dogs. A few issues you need to look out for are little white shaker syndrome, cerebellar hypoplasia, and episodic head tremors, among others. These can manifest as tremors, unsteadiness, or abnormal movements. 

These issues may come from conditions such as seizures, degenerative diseases, infections, inflammation, trauma or injuries, or metabolic disorders. When you notice severe shaking in your dogs, consult your vet promptly.

When to Get Help

It's essential to pay attention to the context and severity of your dog's shaking to see if you need to rush them to the vet. You should also keep an eye out for accompanying symptoms, behavioral changes, recent events, and preexisting conditions, as these will guide you in deciding to consult your vet.

If you notice your dog experiencing sudden and severe shivering or trembling, seek medical help immediately. Early diagnosis and proper management are vital for your doggo's well-being.

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