Observing your pet on a daily basis is the best preventive measure against any health problems. Shaking is quite a common issue among dogs, and, sometimes, nothing serious stands behind it. However, it may. When you notice that your dog has a tendency to shake or tremble, it’s worth taking a closer look at its behavioral patterns, environment, and health test results to rule out all the potentially dangerous reasons and find solutions.

Below, we’ve gathered the most common reasons why dogs shake and shiver. However, please note that our tips cannot replace a visit to a veterinary clinic. If you suspect that your dog needs professional help, don’t hesitate to reach out for a specialist’s advice.

Why does my dog shake?

The reasons behind shaking and trembling may fall under one of three categories:

  • health-related
  • behavioral
  • environment-related

Regardless of the suspected cause, it’s worth reacting right away when observing tremble to exclude life-threatening situations, like heavy poisoning.

Health-related shaking – what can be the reason?

Shaking can be a sign of severe neurological issues – mainly epilepsy. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from this disease, which comes with seizures as the main symptom. However, the attacks are easily distinguishable from regular trembling. They’re usually followed by muscle spasms, loss of consciousness, and drooling.

Only the veterinarian can give a final diagnosis, but by observing, you can determine whether they originate in epilepsy or other health issues. In the case of epilepsy, the seizures return regularly, but the breaks between them are long (usually at least around 24 hours). When the cause of the shaking is poisoning, they are usually continuous.

Muscular weakness is another probable cause of continuous shaking. It can be a symptom of degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disease observed in many dog breeds. Its symptoms resemble amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a human disease.

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Your dog may also tremble as a result of food poisoning. In this case, the shaking will be most likely accompanied by nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. If these symptoms are very intense, the dog may tremble as a result of losing nutrients and electrolytes. It not only weakens the organism but also makes the body temperature go lower.

Behavioral issues and shaking – what is the connection?

Shaking often has a psychological background. Any extreme emotions can make your dog tremble and shiver. They don’t necessarily have to be negative. Happiness and excitement count, too! Particularly the little dogs, like Yorkshire Terriers, have a tendency to pant and tremble when they excite.

Stress is actually one of the most common causes of shaking. It may come as a result of separation anxiety. In this case, the dog feels so attached to the owner that any time without them causes extreme stress. These emotions manifest in different ways. Some dogs howl or destroy the household, while the others may shake.

If you notice the correlation between separation periods and the shaking, consider scheduling a session with a behavioral specialist. Solving the problem of separation anxiety is important since it causes constant stress both for the pet and the owner. It takes time, but it’s definitely worth it.

Also, the changing circumstances may make the dog stress. Moving to a new home is one of the most common reasons for the pet to experience extreme emotions – particularly if you move from the countryside to the city or the opposite. After a while, these symptoms should get milder and disappear completely. If you still see your dog shivering after few months from moving, talk to a behaviorist about it.

If your dog shakes from time to time as a response to strong emotions (which are not related to the separation anxiety), nothing is out of the norm. However, if the trembling is constant, it’s worth consulting it with the behaviorist. It is not uncommon that the dogs from rescue interventions experience this kind of symptom. It may be a result of trauma which should be worked through with a specialist.

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What environmental factors can make your dog shake?

The answer is easy to guess – it’s all about the temperature. When it gets low, the dog may start shaking. It’s actually a defense mechanism of the organism which protects itself from hypothermia. When the body shakes, the muscle tissue produces warmth. Note, however, that humidity plays an important role here, too. When it’s high, the temperature sensation is much more intense.

A lot depends on the breed, too. Generally, the small races get cold much quicker than the big ones. Miniature breeds such as Chihuahuas or Yorkshire Terriers tend to react to temperature changes quite intensely. The dogs with thin coats may get cold quickly, too.

Food poisoning seizures – how to react?

If you suspect that your dog shakes as a result of food poisoning, you should be acting quickly. A visit to a veterinary clinic will be inevitable in this case. Meanwhile, you can serve your pup activated charcoal, which will prevent the poison from reaching the bloodstream. The further actions depend on the type of poison your dog ingested. The veterinarian may perform gastric lavage and serve the dog the drugs that facilitate the removal of toxins from the organism.

Your dog can get poisoned with various household products. The detergents and cleaning supplies are dangerous for pets, but so are some foods that humans can eat without any worry. That includes chocolate, which can be deadly for your pet. It contains theobromine – a substance present in the cocoa seeds, toxic for dogs, cats, and many other animals. The purer the chocolate is, the more dangerous it is for the dog.

One of the symptoms of chocolate poisoning – aside from vomiting and nausea – is shaking. It’s worth noting, however, that theobromine gets absorbed quite slowly in the dog’s digestive system. So, if you notice that your pet has eaten some chocolate, nothing is lost yet – if you act quickly, you can prevent any health implications!

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Epilepsy seizures – how to react?

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases among dogs. Its reasons may vary. Some dogs inherit epilepsy, while others develop it as a result of head injury, brain cancer, stroke, or meningitis. Congenital epilepsy manifests itself early – usually around the first year of a dog’s life.

When the dog experiences a seizure, it’s crucial to act fast. The tremor may be life-threatening, since the dog can choke with its own vomit or hit something with the head. To prevent that, remove all the objects around the pet when only you notice the first symptoms. Don’t try to move the pet anywhere else or open its jaws, and keep a safe distance. It may be dangerous for both you and the dog. During the attack, the animal doesn’t control its movements and may accidentally bite you.

Using prescribed medicine regularly can reduce the frequency and severity of the seizures. As in the case of any disease, regular visits to the veterinarian are essential.

Summing up

Many things can cause your dog to shake – some are dangerous for its health and life, while others aren’t at all. It’s hard to determine what causes this symptom without a support of a professional. That’s why visiting the veterinarian is essential. Trying to help your dog only by yourself may do more harm than good. The specialist will exclude all the possible causes of shaking, getting to the root of the issue.

When you notice your dog has a tendency to shake or shiver, try observing the circumstances in which it happens, as well as the intensity and the breaks between seizures. These observations will make it easier for the vet to identify the cause of the problem.