What Does Dog Shaking Mean

What Does Dog Shaking Mean

Author WDF Staff


Some dogs shake; that is just a part of their everyday life. Breeds like the Chihuahua are noticeable shakers, and we, as dog owners, should learn how to differentiate worrying from normal behavior. Dogs can communicate with us by shaking, or they can shake as a response to outside stimuli. There are many reasons why your dog might be shaking, and here are some of the most common ones;

However, before we get into the reasons behind dog trembling, you should make sure you know the difference between seizures in dogs and shaking. Seizures are different, and your dog can have severe health issues if they are experiencing seizures. You can read more about them here - Seizures in dogs.

1. General trembling

One of the possible reasons you notice your dog trembling is because they are have something you might call “generalized tremor syndrome.” This is typical of smaller breeds like Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers, or other Toy breeds. Vets and scientists are not really sure why exactly that happens, but there are some theories. Some of the most probable ones are;

  • Smaller dogs are cold more often than larger dogs.
  • Small dogs are more anxious than larger dogs.


Make sure you talk to your vet about it and ask them if they think your dog is shaking excessively. Vets can check your dog’s muscle tone and perform other tests that will rule out any health issues. If you notice your dog shaking but everything else is normal, they might have generalized tremor syndrome. Vets can treat this condition with corticosteroids.

2. Cold

One of the most straightforward reasons why dogs shake is - they are cold. There are more than 400 registered dog breeds, and they have different coats. Some dogs have thick, double coats that will insulate them pretty well. Other breeds, like the Whippet or Doberman, have short, relatively thin coats that are not well suited for cold conditions. These types of dogs can quickly get cold. Just like humans, when they are cold, you can notice dogs shivering.

The best way to prevent that is to get your dog a winter coat. Some owners live in colder climates, and they need to prepare their dogs for winter. Their dogs will not magically grow a thick undercoat, but they can wear a warm coat that will keep them warm even when it is snowing. If you are not sure what type of dog coat to get your dog, check out this article for some suggestions - Dog coats.

3. Emotional overflow

Situations and emotions can cause dog shaking. Keep an eye when your dog starts shaking. Is it happening at a specific time? Like when you are going to your vet or when you have guests arriving at your home? The reason your dog might be shaking is that they are overflowing with emotion, and their body reacts by shivering.  Dog shivering can be caused by excitement, anxiety, or fear.

If you notice your dog is shaking and acting weird when you leave your home, you are probably dealing with separation anxiety. The dog is not used to staying home alone, and they are scared and anxious.

dog in a coat

The way to prevent your dog from shaking is to resolve the condition causing your dog’s shivering. You can talk to your vet about some behavioral medications, and more and more owners are recommending CBD oil for dogs as a supplement. If you want to avoid that, you could train and work with your dog to alleviate their emotional distress. If you want to know more about separation anxiety, check out this article - Separation anxiety in dogs.

4. Injury or muscle weakness

Dogs can get muscle tremors and start shivering or shaking when they get overexercised. The same goes for humans. If you ever overdid it with your workout routine, you might have noticed your muscles shake. Dogs can experience the same thing. It is best to talk to your vet, but usually, this type of dog shaking stops after the dog’s muscles recuperate.

The more worrying reason for dog shaking is pain or injury. Dogs that are experiencing pain can shake and shiver. However, dog trembling will not be the only symptom. There will be other things you notice, like reduced activity, whimpering, and reduced motion in the affected area. Your vet can check your dog and let you know how to help them deal with pain. Your dog might need some pain medication, and if that happens, you can read about dog painkillers here - How to help dogs deal with pain?

5. Disease

Unfortunately, many different diseases can cause your dog to shake and shiver. Most of these diseases are very scary, and if you notice something wrong with your dog, you should seek vet advice and help as soon as possible. Some of these diseases are;

  • Neurological diseases and disorders
  • Kidney diseases
  • Seizures
  • Distemper

toy dog

Again, your dog shaking is just one of the symptoms you can notice in dogs. There are many things you should keep an eye on when you are a dog owner. Check your dog’s stool and urine regularly for signs of discoloration, texture, blood, or any kind of suspicious changes. Look for signs of lower activity levels, appetite loss, or other changes in your dog’s behavior. Some of these diseases can be managed and treated, but some, like distemper, are dangerous and often fatal. Make sure your dog is vaccinated and regularly checked by your vet.

Treatment and prevention of dog shaking

The treatment will be determined by the cause of your dog trembling and acting weird. If your vet thinks your dog has kidney issues, they will perform a complete check-up and make sure your dog gets the best possible treatment. There is no unique treatment for dog shaking; each approach is individual, and the best way to resolve dog shaking is to cure the underlying condition.

The same goes for prevention. Preventing dog trembling is impossible because you cannot know if your dog will develop any health issues. However, you can make sure your dog is fully vaccinated to prevent diseases like distemper. Make sure your dog is on a healthy diet, and you don’t skip vet appointments. If you want to know more about the dog vaccination schedule, check out this article - Puppy shot schedule.

World Dog Finder team

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