Why is my dog shaking?

As doggy parents we all like to think we know our dogs inside out. We feed them the best food we can afford, buy them the best toys and comfy beds but sometimes their behaviour can cause us concern and leave us wondering 'why is my dog shaking?'.

When dogs shake or tremble it can be a very worrying time for the whole family and one that needs to be looked into. Watching your dog tremble or shake can be scary. It’s important to find out why they are shaking and to know the differences between what is normal shaking for dogs and what is not.


Why is my dog shaking?

Did you know that sometimes dogs and other animals shake? Well there are several normal reasons why dogs shake and it’s important to distinguish between what is normal and what you will need to look out for and seek help and advice with. So what are the most common reasons behind dog shaking or trembling?


Are they just over excited?

You’ve seen children tremble with excitement when they find out they are doing something fun, it’s the same with dogs. They can literally tremble with excitement if they are happy and having fun, perhaps they have a passion for catch or love playing with another dog friend. A healthy shake would be accompanied by a happy dog, wagging its tail and being keen to play with you.


Are they scared, stressed or anxious?

Your dog could also be trembling because they are scared, nervous or anxious about something. Loud noises like thunderstorms, fireworks and even children screaming can unsettle your dog. If you notice your dog shaking with its tail is in-between its hind legs ensure you assess its environment and remove your dog from the situation. Your dog could also be scared of other animals or afraid of new people.


Are they cold or too hot?

Your dog could be simply cold. The cold can affect smaller dogs more and dogs without a thick furry coat. Are they hunting out a heat source like a radiator? It’s important to make sure your dog has a warm bed and blanket, directly off cold floors in winter and if going out in extremely cold weather then a coat will help to prevent hypothermia. Your dog could also be too hot. Shaking can be a sign of heat stroke. In extreme heat you need to keep a source of water readily available and keep them cool and off hot pavements and out of the sun during the day.


Are they hurt or injured?

Shaking that starts all of a sudden can mean that your dog has injured themselves. We all know how crazy dogs can get with the zoomies, it could be that your dog has hurt themselves and they are in pain or have a wound. Immediate shaking after injury is common, your dog is in pain and if afraid. Check your dog for visible signs of injury and signs of pain and act accordingly.


Do older dogs just shake with age?

Older dogs seem to get tremors in their hind legs, this is natural for older dogs and a sign of muscle weakness. It’s important to make their daily life as comfortable as possible. If your elderly dog is trembling in its hind legs, make sure you aren’t walking them too fast or too much and ensure the house and their dog bed is accessible. It can be hard to watch but as long as they aren’t in pain, this is just a sign of getting older.


Is dog shaking a serious sign of illness?

Shaking can also be a sign of various illnesses and diseases such a kidney failure, ear infections, hormonal imbalance or neurological disorders and will need to be taken to the vet.


Maybe it could be food poisoning?

Another reason for dogs to shiver is food poisoning. Has your dog eaten a food that is toxic to them like chocolate, coffee or grapes? If you notice your dog shaking after eating food then you need to go to the vet straight away. Likewise if your dog is shaking as well as vomiting or having diarrhoea this could be because of something they have ingested and you need to contact your vet asap.


Is it only certain breeds of dog that shake?

Not entirely but some breeds of dog are more predisposed to shaking. Small white breeds of dog, like West Highland White Terriers and Maltese have a higher than average risk of Shaker Syndrome or generalized tremor syndrome. It can also be called “Little White Dog Shaker Syndrome” Shaking can vary from very mild tremors of one body part, or a more severe whole body shake, even making it hard for the dog to walk. Treatment is usually needed and prescribed by your vet.


How can I help prevent shaking?

Keeping your dog happy and its environment safe as well as being up to date with all injections and vet treatments will go a long way to help prevent your dog shaking. We cannot prevent shaking entirely and like with everything, your dog shaking could be a sign that something isn’t right and you should act upon those signs. Knowing and researching the breed for your dog will help you manage dog shaking. If you know a certain breed is susceptible to shaking you can prepare for this. Likewise with loud noises and knowing the temperament of your breed. Is your dog a rescue dog that may have some issues with new places or settling in? Shaking will be a stress sign that you can again prepare for in your home to make them as comfortable as possible.


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