Why Is My Dog Shaking?

Why Is My Dog Shaking?

Dogs are notorious for shaking, whether it's from excitement or fear. But why do they do it? And what can you do to help your dog stop shaking? Here's a look at the most common reasons why dogs shake and some tips on how to make shaking less frequent.

Why Is My Dog Shaking? Reasons Why Your Dog Is Shaking

A dog playing with a ball on a field

Dogs shake for two primary reasons: to release energy and to regulate their body temperature. When a dog shakes, its muscles contract and relax rapidly, which increases blood flow and helps to dissipate heat, this is why dogs often shake after exercise or when they're overheated.

Shaking can also be a sign of stress or anxiety. When a dog is fearful or anxious, its body releases the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone can cause muscle tremors, which may lead to shaking. Below we will go into detail about the most common reasons dogs shake and what you can do to help your dog stop shaking.

Most Common Reasons Dogs Shake And Ways To Help

A dog in the snow wearing a sweater

There are many reasons why dogs shake, but some are more common than others. Here are 10 of the most common reasons for shaking and what you can do to help:

1. Cold

When we are cold, we shiver. It's just our bodies' natural reaction to an uncomfortable temperature. Dogs, of course, respond to the temperature in the same way as humans do.

Being cold is a very typical reason for a dog to be shaking. This is especially true in small and short-haired breeds. They just don't have the body weight or insulation to keep warm when the temperature drops, so they shiver as their bodies' only method of generating heat. We recommend looking for ways to keep your dog warm. You can get it a sweater or coat to help stay warm in cold weather.

2. Canine Distemper

Another reason why your dog's shaking is Canine Distemper Virus. This is a contagious and serious disease that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of puppies and young dogs. It's similar to measles in humans.

One of the most common symptoms of Canine Distemper is muscle twitching and shaking. If your dog is displaying this symptom, it's important to take him to the vet immediately, as Canine Distemper can be deadly.

Making sure you dog's vaccinations are up-to-date is the best way to prevent this disease. Puppies should be vaccinated at six to eight weeks old, and then booster shots should be given every three to four weeks until they are 16 weeks old. Adult dogs should also be vaccinated every year or two.

Canine Parvovirus (Parvo) is another virus that can cause muscle shaking in dogs. Parvo is a highly contagious virus that affects puppies and young dogs. It attacks the gastrointestinal system and can lead to severe dehydration, which can be deadly.

Other symptoms of Parvo include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fever, and muscle twitching or shaking. If your dog is displaying any of these symptoms, it's crucial to take him to the vet immediately.

3. Old Age

Older dogs are more prone to shaking due to age-related issues such as arthritis, muscle weakness, and cognitive decline.

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. As your dog ages, it may start to experience this pain, which can lead to shaking.

There are many ways you can help your dog with arthritis. You can give him joint supplements and anti-inflammatory medication (under the guidance of your veterinarian) and keep him at a healthy weight. You should also ensure he gets plenty of exercise to maintain muscle strength and flexibility.

Cognitive decline is another age-related issue that can cause dogs to shake. This is similar to dementia in humans and can cause disorientation, confusion, anxiety, and sleep disturbance.

There is no cure for cognitive decline, but there are ways to help your dog cope with the condition. You can provide him with a calm and consistent environment, give him lots of love and attention, and give him puzzle toys to keep his mind active.

4. Over-excitement

Dogs can also shake from sheer excitement. This is most common in puppies and young dogs, but even adult dogs can get overexcited on occasion.

It should be fairly easy to discern if over-excitement is the reason your dog is shaking. After all, the shaking will only happen situationally in obvious moments, for example, when you're filling up their treat bowl. If your dog is shaking for no apparent reason, it's time to look into other causes.

5. Anxiety And fear

Anxiety and fear are two of the most common psychological reasons for shaking in dogs. Dogs can be anxious about many things, such as thunderstorms, car rides, going to the vet, or being left alone.

As stated earlier, when a dog feels anxious or afraid, his body releases stress hormones that cause physical reactions, such as increased heart rate, panting, and shaking.

There are many ways you can help your dog with anxiety and fear. You can start by slowly acclimating him to what he's afraid of (e.g., thunderstorms) and desensitizing him to experiences that might cause anxiety of (e.g., car rides). You can also give him anti-anxiety medication (under the guidance of your veterinarian) and provide him with lots of love and attention.

6. Pain

Pain is another common reason for shaking in dogs. Dogs can experience pain for many reasons, such as arthritis, injuries, cancer, and infections.

When a dog is in pain, his body releases stress hormones that cause physical reactions, such as increased heart rate, panting, and shaking.

If you think your dog is in pain, it's crucial to take him to the vet immediately. Your vet will be able to determine the cause of the pain and provide treatment options.

7. Generalized Tremor Syndrome

Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS) is a rare condition that causes dogs to shake all over. The exact cause of GTS is unknown, but it's thought to be caused by a problem with the nervous system.

GTS can be mild or severe, and the severity can wax and wane. Some dogs only shake when they're excited or stressed, while others shake all the time.

There is no cure for GTS, but there are ways to help your dog cope with the condition. You can give him anti-anxiety medication (under the guidance of your veterinarian), provide him with a calm and consistent environment, and give him lots of love and attention.

8. Poisoning

Poisoning is another possible reason for shaking in dogs. Dogs can be poisoned by many things, such as plants, medications, chocolate, and rodent poison.

If you suspect that your dog has eaten something it shouldn't have or may have been poisoned, contact your veterinarian and call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.

9. Seizure Disorders

Seizure disorders are a common cause of shaking in dogs. Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, and they can cause a variety of symptoms, including shaking, twitching, loss of consciousness, and urination.

There are many different types of seizure disorders, and the best course of treatment will vary depending on the type and severity of the disorder. You should always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment for your dog.

10. Nausea And Motion Sickness

Nausea and motion sickness are two other possible reasons for shaking in dogs. Dogs can be nauseous for many reasons, such as eating something they shouldn't have, viral infections, and gastrointestinal problems.

Motion sickness is caused by the movement of the car (or other vehicles) and can be exacerbated by a number of factors, such as anxiety, hunger, and dehydration.

There are many ways you can help your dog with nausea and motion sickness. You can start by slowly acclimating him to the car and making sure he's well-rested and not too hungry before a car ride. You can also give him anti-nausea medication and provide him with lots of love and attention.

When To See A Vet

A sick dog on the floor

If your dog is shaking and you're not sure why it's always best to consult with your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to determine the cause of the shaking and provide treatment options.

In some cases, shaking may signify a serious medical condition requiring immediate veterinary attention.

Common symptoms that might indicate a medical condition include if your dog is:

  • Shaking and also seems to be in pain

  • Shaking and has also been vomiting or has had diarrhea

  • Shaking and acting lethargic or tired

  • Shaking and has an abnormal temperature (over 104 degrees Fahrenheit)

Conclusion

A dog playing fetch in the field.

There are many different reasons why dogs shake, but the most common reasons are anxiety, fear, pain, and food poisoning. If your dog is shaking for no apparent reason, it's crucial to take him to the vet. Your vet will be able to determine the cause of the shaking and provide treatment options.

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