Why Is My Dog Shaking? – Possible Causes


It can be a little alarming to see your dog shaking. It can make you feel helpless as a dog owner, especially if you have no idea what is causing it. Dogs can shake, tremble, and shiver for a number of reasons. Many of these reasons are harmless, due to them being cold, excited, or maybe old in age. However, occasionally they can shake due to a medical condition that needs some attention. This article is going to go over some things that could be causing your dog to shake, and when you should go and see your vet. 

Small skeptical dog

Table of Contents

Narrowing the Causes of Shaking in Dogs Down

In order to understand the reasons for a shaky dog, they can be divided into three categories: 

  • Behavioral responses:  this is where your dog may shake because they’re excited, scared, or anxious. 
  • Responding to their environment: This refers to them being cold or wet. 
  • Medical reasons: This is the more serious of the three, and refers to the dog being in pain, weak, and more serious conditions. 

Behavioral Reasons

There are several behavioral reasons why your dog may be shaking. A very common one is excitement. It is said that the sudden release of hormones can impact the body by making them shake. 

They may shake when you play with them, or when they greet you as you walk in through the door.

This is a type of shaking that you don’t need to worry about, as it is a positive response to something. It is usually most common in younger dogs, and it will stop as they calm down. 

However, if this behavior doesn’t stop it could lead to your dog becoming hyperactive, so you can try rewarding calm behavior with treats, so the dog will learn to be calm. 

Another behavioral response that leads to shaking is more negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, or fear.

When your dog isn’t feeling safe, adrenaline will surge through their body, preparing to defend themselves or run away. This adrenaline will go through their system, causing them to shake (or even bark). 

Fireworks and thunderstorms are common causes for making your dog feel this way.

Although this type of shaking is not harmful to your dog, it is still distressing for both of you, so you can help by eliminating the cause of stress as best you can.

You can introduce therapeutic toys, or try masking the sounds of fireworks and thunder. 

Responding To Their Environment

Very often, a dog will shake as a response to its environment, such as being wet or cold. After a bath or a splash in a puddle, their coat can become very wet.

Although their coats are great at keeping them warm, they are also very good at keeping in water, so your dog may shake in order to get rid of the water. 

Like humans, dogs will shake when they are feeling cold. Smaller and thinner dogs are likely to shake more, as they lose heat quicker.

If you are out on a walk and notice your dog shaking, then it may be best to head home and warm them up.

If your dog is prone to feeling cold regularly and shaking, then you can invest in a cute doggy jumper to keep them toasty when outside. 

Shaking Due To Medical Issues

Shaking Due To Medical Issues

If none of the above applies to your dog, but they are still shaking, then it may be due to a medical issue.

Although no dog owner wants to hear this, it is best to be aware, so you know when you need to take immediate action. 

When a dog is feeling nauseous, it can cause them to shake, especially if they feel they are going to be sick.

A lot of the time, it can be for a harmless reason, like they’ve eaten too much or are experiencing motion sickness.

However, other times it can be because they’ve eaten something poisonous or have some other medical issues. If your dog is repeatedly being sick, then a trip to the vet is needed. 

Distemper is a virus that attacks organs in the body. Dogs that have not been vaccinated are at a higher risk of catching it.

It will often cause dogs to shake and tremble. But other signs include coughing, sickness, no interest in food, and a high temperature

Some poisons can also cause your dog to shake. Some of these include chocolate, cannabis, caffeine, cigarette butts/nicotine patches, and some moldy foods.

If you suspect that your dog may have ingested any of these things, then you must make a trip to the vet immediately. 

When your dog is in pain, you may not realize it, as they are very good at hiding it. But one common sign is them shaking or shivering.

Some other signs they are in pain could be flattened ears, limping, stiffness, and lack of appetite. If you think your dog is in pain, then contact your vet. You can both try and figure out what the problem is. 

If your dog is only shaking in a particular area, such as the legs, it could mean muscle weakness in this particular area.

This could happen after a long walk or run. But if this certain area is constantly shaking, then your vet could suggest ways to strengthen the muscles in that area. This could also be caused by old age. 

Shaking Vs Seizures

It is important to note the difference between shaking and seizures. Seizures are very dangerous in dogs. They should be checked out immediately if this occurs.

During a seizure, the muscles of the dog will tense up. This causes a loss of mobility and awareness. Whereas when a dog is shaking, they are still going about their normal business.

If your dog is having a seizure, then it must be taken to the emergency vet. 

Dog Shakes – Final Thoughts

Your dog may be shaking for a number of reasons, many of which are harmless. However, if you do notice your dog has been shaking for a long period of time and is acting differently, then it should be checked out by your vet. 


What should I do if my dog is shaking?

Assess the situation and determine the underlying cause. Are they anxious? Are they cold? Or is it a health issue? Trust your instincts as a pet owner. If you’re concerned about your dog’s well-being or if their shaking is unusual or severe, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek veterinary advice.

Leave a comment

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