What Does It Mean If Your Dog Is Shaking?

What does it mean if your dog is shaking? There are a number of things that could be responsible for your dog shaking. And these causes range from mild to it’s time to call in the vet.

What Does It Mean If Your Dog Is Shaking
Image by Ralf Becker from Pixabay

The basic way to find out what is what and whether or not to call in the vet is by paying attention to the attendant symptoms. However, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s find out what it could mean if your dog is shaking.

What Are The Reasons That Dogs Shake?

The following are reasons why dogs shake:

  • Cold
  • Excitement or anxiety
  • Generalized Tremor Syndrome
  • Injury
  • Some other medical condition.

Now, let’s explain:


While it is not very common, it is possible that your dog is shaking or shivering from the cold.

You’ll notice this kind if your dog is just coming in from outside and the weather is really cold. Most likely, you’ll be feeling really cold too.

More often than not, dogs who shake or shiver as a result of cold are hairless or have a really short fur.

So, you could consider getting your dog a really nice and warm sweater even before they start to shiver if they are hairless or have a short fur.

That said, cold is definitely not the only reason that dogs shiver.

Excitement Or Anxiety

We are trying to work our way from the not so worrying to the really worrying.

That said, your dog could be shaking out of excitement. This is more common with puppies because dogs tend to grow out of this kind of behavior.

You’ll notice that it is excitement if your dog is always like this when you or anybody in your home comes back from work or school or maybe when they get a new toy or even at the prospect of their favorite treat.

Now, whether or not this is a behavior you want to encourage is totally up to you.

But if you are not up for your dog always vibrating because they are excited, you could train them to stop that by teaching them to sit before giving them what they want.

On the exact other hand, your dog could be shaking because they are anxious or even scared. There are a number of things that could shake up a dog real bad including fireworks.

Anxiety could also be a result of a really bad past which could be triggered by anything that reminds them of said past.

You’ll have to pay particular attention to your dog’s environment in order to easily point out what exactly is causing their anxiety and/or fear.

Generalized Tremor Syndrome

What Is Generalized Tremor Syndrome?

Generalized Tremor Syndrome is a condition that causes generalized head and body shakes in dogs. This is why it is also called the Shaker Syndrome.

Now while Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS) sounds really frightening, it isn’t the worst thing and we’ll tell you why.

For one, GTS isn’t usually accompanied by any other symptoms. So basically, dogs that have GTS (usually small dogs) just shake a lot for no other reason than the GTS.

The second reason we wouldn’t say it is the absolute worst thing is that the syndrome can be managed with proper medication. Just be sure that you inform your veterinarian about it.


Cheshire Animal
Image by Liselotte Brunner from Pixabay

If you’ve ever sprained an ankle or pulled a muscle and suddenly put weight on said injured leg, you might have noticed that said injured leg would just start vibrating. The same goes for your dog.

If your dog is shaking because they are in pain from an injury, it will most likely be localized i.e. the shakes would be restricted to whatever part of the body the injury is.

You might also notice that it is difficult for your dog to move around which could also be accompanied by whining.

Other Medical Issues

A good number of times, dogs shiver or shake because they are in pain. And by this we refer to other causes of pain aside injuries.

Other medical reasons that could cause dogs to shake include canine distemper (a condition that causes dogs to shake and is accompanied by coughing, fever and even nose and eye discharge), seizure disorders and also nausea.

Nausea could also be a result of a number of different things ranging from motion sickness to kidney disease.

Your dog could also be shivering because they have been poisoned i.e. they have eaten something they shouldn’t.

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When Is It Necessary To Call The Vet?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with calling your vet if you notice that there is anything off with your dog.

However, you might be able to save yourself a few trips to the vet if you know what red flags to look out for. So, consider calling your vet if:

  • Your dog is shaking for no reason and the weather isn’t even cold. Even if the weather is cold, you might need to call in the vet if your shaking dog is long furred and you aren’t even feeling the cold.
  • Your dog is or looks sick.
  • Your dog seems generally stressed or tired and doesn’t want to participate in activities they usually would.
  • Your dog is whining and favouring one part of their body.
  • Your dog is vomiting and/or has diarrhoea.
  • You notice that your dog has eaten something that they shouldn’t.

Can Anything Be Done To Prevent Your Dog From Shaking?

Well, what you can do is be attentive. Get your dog some comfortable sweaters, especially if they are short furred. Also, be informed about what dogs should and should not eat so that you do not poison your dog.

However, you’ll have to bear in mind that Generalized Tremor Syndrome cannot be prevented or cured. It can only be managed.

What Does It Mean If Your Dog Is Shaking? — FAQs

How Do You Calm A Shaking Dog?

Finding out why your dog is shaking in the first place, is the first step to effectively calming your dog. If the weather is cold, it makes sense to eliminate the possibility that your dog is cold by wrapping them up in something warm.

The next set of possibilities to erase is the emotional kind. This includes excitement, anxiety or fear. You can do this by inspecting your dog’s immediate environment and removing the source of their anxiety or fear and leaving things as is if they are excited.

Anything aside those possibilities requires a call to your vet.

Why Is My Dog Shaking In Her Sleep?

If your dog is only shaking in her sleep, it is almost certainly because she is dreaming. And if so, there’s really nothing to worry about.

However, if she also shakes when she’s awake, you want to eliminate all the possibilities. So, speak with your vet.

Do Dogs Shake When They Are In Pain?

Dogs could actually shake when they are in pain. However, it is important to note that if your dog is at that point where it is shaking as a result of pain, the pain must be severe.

This is because dogs try to hide their pain as much as possible as a preservative measure. So, if they are shaking, they could be in serious pain. Please, immediately report to your vet.

Why Do Old Dogs Shake?

Sometimes, old dogs shake just because they are old. However, if the shakes are violent, it is probably because they are in pain. So, you might have to get them checked out.

What Dog Breeds Are Prone To Anxiety?

Anxiety in dogs can be caused by a number of things and can happen to any dog. However, if it is generalized anxiety whose cause can’t exactly be determined, there are a number of dog breeds that are prone to this.

Those dog breeds that are prone to anxiety include:

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Border Collies
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Toy breeds
  • Greyhounds
  • Australian and German Shepherds

What Dog Breeds Are Prone To Seizures?

Seizures are usually a sign of epilepsy and there are two kinds of epilepsy in dogs. One is idiopathic epilepsy and the other is symptomatic epilepsy.

Dog breeds that are prone to epilepsy are prone to the idiopathic kind which is hereditary and so happens for no apparent reason.

Some of these dogs include Beagles, Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies and Dachshunds.

On the other hand, symptomatic epilepsy is usually caused by a brain lesion or a metabolic problem. This can happen to any breed of dog.

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