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Why Do Dogs Tremble, Shake, and Shiver?

Why do dogs tremble? Are they afraid, cold, or perhaps sick? The truth is that when your dog is shaking for no apparent reason you can’t help but wonder whether or not there’s something wrong with him.

While in some cases, shaking in dogs is normal and far from dangerous, it can also be a sign of a serious problem. In any case, where there’s doubt, it’s always recommended that you talk to your local veterinarian. But before you get all stressed out, keep in mind that it’s important to look for other symptoms as well, as sometimes this behavior can be treated easily.

In this post, I’ll answer a common question among many dog owners that is “why do dogs tremble, shake, and shiver?” I’ll talk about the main causes of shaking in dogs, as well as the things you can do to address them and also when you should see a vet.

Why Do Dogs Tremble? 7 Different Reasons

why do dogs tremble

1. Your Dog Has Anxiety

Some dog breeds are more prone to anxiety than others, whether they’re afraid of noises like thunderstorms or have had a bad experience visiting the vet or groomer.

Separation anxiety can also be the reason for your dog’s shaking. This is when why it’s important to know the signs of anxiety. When a dog is feeling anxious, he will usually shake, hide his tail between his legs, and in some cases, even vomit. Potty accidents are also common in this case.

What can you do?

Dogs with mild anxiety can benefit from certain training methods and there are even supplements that can help your dog take the edge off.

One example would be these dog calming bars (Amazon) which are all-natural and basically function as anxiety relief treats. The product contains hemp, chamomile, and passion flower, all of which have a calming effect and should work for treating different types of anxiety.

PETIPET Dog Calming Treats- Natural Dog Anxiety Relief Bars. Organic Hemp & Chamomile for Effective Stress, Anxiety Relief in Dogs
Source: Amazon

2. Your Dog Is Smart

In case you didn’t already know–dogs are clever. Really clever.

Shaking doesn’t always mean your dog is afraid or anxious. In fact, your dog can actually make the choice to tremor for no reason at all. In most cases, it’s because he learned that this is the best way to get your attention. Moreover, if you make a habit of giving in and showering your pooch with love and care, you’re actually reinforcing his bad behavior.

What can you do?

If there’s nothing present to warrant fear or anxiety in your dog, you should simply wait until he stops shaking or completely calm before you approach him. Once your dog understands that his plot to gain your attention is no longer working, he should stop doing it.

3. Your Dog Is Cold

Being exposed to chilly temperatures can also cause your dog to shake in order to generate body heat. This usually happens during the colder months or right after a shower. Dogs with a short coat are more likely to tremble when they’re exposed to cold environments.

Puppies who are still growing in their full coat are obviously far more sensitive to extreme weather, as are senior dogs and dogs with health problems.

What can you do?

Consider getting your dog a jacket for the winter. The Kurgo Loft dog jacket (Amazon) is great for both indoor and outdoor activities since it’s made from lightweight, water-repellent materials. You can find the jacket in multiple sizes tailored to best fit your dog’s measurements (be aware, however, that it doesn’t cover the entire dog).

Kurgo Loft Jacket, Reversible Dog Coat, Dog Coat for Cold Weather, Water-Resistant Dog Jacket with Reflective Trim, Blue/Orange, Medium
Source: Amazon

In times of freezing climates, it’s also advisable to exercise your dog indoors as much as possible and use a dog pee pad for toilet breaks.

4. Your Dog Have to Go Potty

While we’re on this subject, a dog who’s trained to do his needs on a pad or outdoors may start to shiver in case he can’t find a proper place to relieve himself.

What can you do?

If you’re using a pee pad, make sure your dog knows where it is and can easily reach it. Otherwise, just get your dog out in time, preferably at regular times, so he will know when to expect it.

5. Your Dog Is Sick

Dogs can shiver when they don’t feel well. Some illnesses that may cause this include:

  • Nausea (or upset stomach): This is a good place to start if your dog is suddenly experiencing tremors. Oftentimes, it can occur after dogs eat something spoiled or after they’ve overindulged. Likewise, dogs can experience shivering after consuming something that triggers an allergic or sensitive reaction.
  • Generalized Tremor Syndrome: Also called White Dog Shaker Syndrome. This is an inherited disorder that affects the nervous system and can cause full body shivering in white, small breed dogs.
  • Distemper: This is a highly contagious, viral disease that can quickly pass from one unvaccinated dog to another. Some of the most obvious signs of distemper are seizures and uncontrollable trembling. Other symptoms may be coughing, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Addison’s Disease: This is a hormonal disorder that causes cortisol deficiency in dogs. Apart from shivers, your dog won’t have energy nor appetite.
  • Poisoning: Of course, we know that some of the most common household chemicals can be bad to our canine companions. But did you know that a great deal of human food can also prove to be toxic to our dogs as well? Seemingly innocent foods like grapes, chocolate, and onions are extremely dangerous for dogs to consume. Besides shivering, vomiting and diarrhea are some of the most common signs of poisoning in dogs.
  • Other causes: Fever, pain, low blood sugar level, kidney disease, brain disease, heart problems, and seizure disorders can also cause your dog to shiver. However, it’s important to distinguish between tremors and seizures.

What can you do?

Talk to your local vet if you suspect your dog is in pain or showing signs of sickness.

6. Your Dog Is Excited

Dogs tend to shiver when they’re excited, this is their way of releasing excess energy. You may notice your dog trembles when you take out his food or a favorite toy and even when you play together.

What can you do?

You don’t really need to do anything since this is considered a healthy behavior and it helps your dog to deal with the excitement. However, if he starts to become hyperactive, ignore him just until he calms down a bit.

7. Your Dog Is Old

Similar to old people, when dogs grow older, they start to have uncontrollable tremors in their legs. Oftentimes, hip dysplasia, joint pain, and muscle weakness can also be the reason why your dog is shivering.

What can you do?

As in the case with a dog who’s experiencing sickness, you should consult your local vet if your dog is experiencing age-related pain or discomfort. As for addressing joint problems, consider using a joint supplement for dogs and make sure to keep your dog at a healthy weight.

Other than that, shortening walks and using a dog grass pad for bathroom breaks can also help.

8. Your Dog Is Itchy

Dogs can’t reach every itchy place on their body, so if their skin is irritated or they have fleas, they may shiver out of discomfort. If your dog is rubbing against things excessively or rolling on the floor, this may be the case.

What can you do?

Ask your local veterinarian to check your dog’s skin condition and be sure to ask if he has fleas or ticks. You can also try various home remedies for itching in dogs.

What Did You Think?

I hope I was able to answer your question as to why do dogs tremble, shake, and shiver.

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