Why Do Dogs Tremble?


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When our dogs tremble, we can’t help wondering whether or not there’s something wrong with them. I know because I used to wonder the same thing.

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 symptoms other than tremors. This is because in most cases, dogs shake for reasons that can be treated easily.

In this post, I’ll talk about the main causes of trembling in dogs, and the things you can do to address them. I’ll also explain when this behavior considered abnormal and warrants a visit to the vet.

Why Do Dogs Tremble: 7 Common Reasons You Should Know

1. Your Dog Is Anxious

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 may also be the reason for your dog’s shaking. This is especially true if it starts right before you leave the house.

This is when it’s important to know some of the signs. When a dog is feeling anxious, he will usually shake, hide his tail between his legs, and sometimes even vomit. Potty accidents are also common in this case.

What can you do about it?

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

Look for dog calming treats that are all-natural and contain things such as Hemp, Chamomile, Passionflower, and/or Thiamine. These ingredients are known for their relaxing effects and should work for treating different types of anxiety.

2. Your Dog Is Clever

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

Shaking doesn’t always mean your dog is afraid or anxious. In fact, your dog can actually make the choice to shake for no reason at all.

In most cases, it’s because he learned that this is the best way to get your attention. Be aware though, 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 about it?

If there’s nothing present to warrant fear or anxiety in your dog, you should simply wait until he stops shaking, or until he’s otherwise 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 shiver in order to generate body heat. This usually happens during the colder months or right after a shower.

That said, dogs with a short coat are more likely to shake when they’re exposed to cold environments.

Puppies that are still growing in their full coat are obviously far more sensitive to extreme weather. Likewise, senior dogs and dogs with health problems can be more quickly affected by the cold as well.

What can you do about it?

Consider getting your dog a wool sweater for the winter, but make sure it covers a good portion of your pup’s body. Ideally, it should be tailored to best fit his measurements.

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 shake in case he can’t find a proper place to relieve himself.

What can you do about it?

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

5. Your Dog Is Sick

Dogs usually tremble when they don’t feel good, so it’s important not to ignore it. Here are some illnesses that may cause your dog to shake uncontrollably.

Nausea (or upset stomach): This is a good place to start if your dog is suddenly experiencing tremors. Oftentimes, shaking can occur after dogs eat something spoiled or after they’ve overindulged. Likewise, your dog can experience shaking after consuming something that triggered an allergic or sensitive reaction.

Generalized Tremor Syndrome (or White Dog Shaker Syndrome): This is an inherited disorder that affects the nervous system, and can cause full-body shaking 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 include coughing, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Addison’s Disease: This is a hormonal disorder that causes cortisol deficiency in dogs. Apart from tremors, your dog won’t have energy nor appetite. This is a serious disorder that requires treatment from the vet.

Poisoning: Of course, we know that some of the most common household chemicals can be bad for our canine companions. But did you know that a great deal of human food can prove to be toxic to our dogs as well?

Seemingly innocent foods like grapes, chocolate, and onions are extremely dangerous for dogs to consume. Aside from shaking, 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 are also potential causes of trembling. However, it’s important to distinguish between tremors and seizures.

What can you do about it?

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 shake when they’re excited. In fact, this is their way of releasing excess energy. You may notice this behavior when you take out your dog’s food, favorite treats, or toys, and even when you play together.

What can you do about it?

You don’t really need to do anything since this is considered a healthy behavior and it helps your pup to deal with the excitement. However, if your dog starts to become hyperactive, ignore him so he can calm 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 trembling.

What can you do about it?

Here, too, 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.

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 shake 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 about it?

Ask your local veterinarian to check your dog’s skin condition and be sure to look if he has any fleas or ticks. In the meantime, you can try these home remedies for itching in dogs.

About the author

Li-ran Bukovza

Li-ran believes that dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He is fascinated by the dog-human bond and loves researching and writing about new dog trends. With the help of Richie, his trusty sidekick, he has been able to learn even more about dogs and their needs.