dog shaking

Why Is My Dog Shaking?

Reviewed by Rachel Katz, VMD

When your dog starts to shake, it’s normal to feel anxious. Fortunately, the source of your concerns may not be as serious as you think. 

For a variety of causes, dogs will quiver, shiver, and shake. The severity of the dog shaking can be better determined by assessing and watching the various signs your dog is showing.

Dogs shiver for a variety of causes, but their shivering can also be a call for help. What, on the other hand, makes a dog shake? When should you take action, and when should you not? 

Causes of Dog Shaking

dog shaking

Here are the most frequent causes of dog shivers:


If your dog isn’t showing any other signs of illness and there aren’t any new stresses in their surroundings, they’re probably just shivering from the cold.

Shivering is an instinctive response to cold temperatures that gets the blood flowing to boost body temperature and prevent hypothermia. 

Due to their lack of body mass and insulation, smaller dogs, such as Chihuahuas, may be more prone to shivering than bigger breeds.

Long durations of exposure to the freezing cold can cause hypothermia in dogs in severe situations. You will need to take them to a veterinarian for treatment in this case.


Not all causes of your dog’s trembling are negative. Dogs shiver and shake when they are enthusiastic, such as when they are playing with you or when you have just returned home from work. 

This is their body’s natural reaction to release excess energy and calm them down.

When you’re cooking their food or they’ve discovered something outdoors they want to chase, your dog may shiver out of excitement or anticipation.

Underlying Disease

Dog trembling & muscle tremors can be a sign of a serious medical condition such as distemper, hypoglycemia, Addison’s disease and inflammatory brain disease, as well as more common ailments like an upset stomach.

Stress & Anxiety

Shaking or trembling may occur if your dog is scared of loud noises such as thunder or fireworks. It’s common for dogs to experience anxiety, especially when significant environmental changes occur in their space.

If your dog’s stress is serious enough, you should seek help from your veterinarian. Anti-anxiety medicine can be prescribed by your veterinarian for your dog to use before or during stressful occasions.

Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)

Generalized Tremor Syndrome is also known as shaker syndrome and steroid responsive tremors. This is manifested as rhythmic, repeated, and involuntary tremors. It might be localized to one part of the body or spread across the entire body.

GTS has no recognized cause, however it is considered to be autoimmune in nature. It’s a ‘diagnostic of exclusion,’ which means your pet’s veterinarian will rule out all other options before making the diagnosis.

Seizure Disorders

Epilepsy is a neurological disease that causes collapse and jerking in certain dogs. This might manifest as a dog falling and paddling with its legs as though swimming.

If your dog begins to experience seizures, contact your veterinarian right once. Seizure control medicines can be used to treat this.


Motion sickness, medicine, eating too much, or eating the incorrect item, such as a poisonous plant, can all make dogs nauseated. 

They may also experience nausea as a result of kidney disease, as well as other illnesses. Your dog’s trembling might indicate that he or she is sick. 

Lethargy, mouth smacking, swallowing or salivating more than usual, hiding, yawning, and vomiting are some of the other symptoms.


While the signs and symptoms of poisoning vary, shaking and seizures are common. Substances that are not always harmful to humans can poison dogs. Cigarettes, xylitol, and chocolate are all major poisons.

If you suspect your pet has swallowed a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian or take your pet to an emergency vet facility as soon as possible.

Old Age

It’s not uncommon in older dogs due to weakening leg muscles to develop tremors. However, shivering could also be a sign of arthritis or joint pain. 

What to Do if Your Dog is Shaking?

dog shaking

Start by analyzing the entire situation if your dog is shaking. If you suspect your dog has come into contact with potentially toxic chemicals, you should consult a veterinarian right once. 

If not, begin by removing any potential stressors, and calming your dog down. New people or animals, a new location, loud noises like fireworks, or unfamiliar items might all be potential stresses.

It’s time to contact a veterinarian if warming your dog with a blanket and reducing potential stressors from their surroundings doesn’t help.

Treatments of Dog Shaking 

dog shaking

If your dog is shaking due to the cold, minimize your dog’s exposure to the cold. Use a dog sweater or coat, which can keep them warm and help them avoid shivering.

In addition, provide them with a comfortable spot to cuddle up; on a chilly night, a dog bed near a heating vent with a warm blanket would help.

In case of shaking due to excitement, you may safely ignore this type of shaking. If this behavior isn’t controlled, your dog may become too enthusiastic and energetic.

It’s recommended to reward your dog for calm behavior and avoiding staring at them while they’re acting off.

If your dog is prone to shaking during thunderstorms, for example, try introducing therapeutic toys or masking the thunder sounds to help them stay calm. 

In general, if you find anything frequently causes your dog to shake, attempt to divert their focus away from it. 

Other symptoms of illness or injury should be looked for. If your dog’s shivering is accompanied by unusual behavior or seems out of the ordinary, call your veterinarian immediately, to rule out other underlying causes.

When to See a Veterinarian

dog shaking

If your dog is showing other signs like lethargy, limping, diarrhea, vomiting, or panting, it’s best to call your veterinarian. 

Take your dog to the vet right away if your dog continues to shake for longer than an hour or if you suspect your dog has eaten a poison. 

The faster your dog is evaluated, the better the odds of a successful outcome.

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