There are many possible reasons why a dog might shake. Sometimes the cause is relatively harmless, while other circumstances may need further investigation from the vet.
It’s not uncommon for smaller breeds to shake for seemingly no reason at all. Chihuahua owners often witness their beloved pooches trembling with no obvious cause. It can be a fact of life for these smaller bundles of joy.
Which is why it’s always important to recognise what’s normal for your dog. If you notice anything out of character, always have your pooch checked over by a vet.
Here are a few reasons why your dog might shake and when it can become a cause for concern.
Your dog is cold
Just like us, dogs shiver and shake to regulate their body temperature. Shivering is just an effective way to generate body heat. If your home is particularly cold during winter, or if your dog is left outside for prolonged periods without protection, your dog may shake as a natural response to the cold.
Heightened emotional response
Some dogs will shake when they’re overexcited, and this is perfectly normal behaviour. You may have noticed happy shaking when your dog greets you at the door or when you’re playing together. Happy shaking is nothing to worry about unless it’s paired with unwanted behaviour like jumping up on you or your guests.
But dogs can also shake when they’re feeling fearful or anxious. For example, if your dog is anxious around new people, or is terrified of loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms.
Poisoning from food and toxic plants can cause shaking as well as severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Human foods such as chocolate, grapes, onions and garlic are toxic to dogs if ingested. If you suspect your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t, see your vet immediately as it could be fatal.
Old age and pain
Older dogs can develop tremors in their legs as muscles weaken, but shaking can also be a sign your dog is in pain. Chronic conditions like arthritis are common in older dogs and can be extremely painful if left untreated. So if your dog is old and suddenly starts shaking, see a vet. There are many treatments available to help reduce tremors and ease pain in older arthritic dogs.
When is it time to see a vet?
There are many possible medical reasons why a dog might shake. These can be serious in nature and will need investigation by a vet. If your dog’s shaking comes on suddenly, it’s accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea, or if your dog is in obvious pain and is limping for example, always book an appointment with your vet.
Here are a few potential medical problems that can cause shaking in dogs: Generalised Tremor Syndrome is a condition that causes full body shaking in young dogs. Canine distemper is a virus that can also cause seizures and tremors but is more common in puppies that haven’t been fully vaccinated. Kidney disease and Addison’s disease can also cause shaking in dogs. So if your dog’s shaking occurs out of the blue and they’re acting out of character, it’s always best to check with your vet.
For the latest on all the dog friendly places in the UK, add your pooch to our pawsonalities page.