Why Is My Dog Shivering or Shaking?

Why Is My Dog Shivering or Shaking?

Have you ever watched your dog tremble, shake or shiver in warm weather? Dog trembling can be caused by numerous factors, including everything from excitement to serious medical issues.


Why Is My Dog Shaking and Trembling?

Dog trembling can be harmless, but it can also indicate serious medical issues.

Excitement: Have you ever noticed a dog tremble in the middle of a game of fetch? Trembling when excited is perfectly normal and healthy for canines. It is a way of a dog lowering that excess energy.

Distemper: Canine distemper is caused by a virus, and most often occurs in puppies and young dogs that haven't been fully vaccinated. Other symptoms include a loss of appetite, fever, eye and nose discharge coughing, and other symptoms. Although canine distemper is a contagious and deadly disease, it can be prevented through vaccination. Treating distemper typically involves supportive care while your furry friend's immune system fights the virus. Your veterinarian will recommend supportive therapy tailored to your furry friend’s needs; this may include physical therapy, antibiotics, airway dilators and fluids to help manage dehydration.

Nausea: Nausea can occur in canines for numerous reasons such as motion sickness, eating too much, medication, eating the wrong thing, liver or kidney disease. Shaking may be a sign that a dog is nauseous. Other symptoms include yawning, swallowing or salivating more than usual, listlessness, hiding and vomiting.

Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS): Known as steroid responsive tremor syndrome or white shaker dog syndrome, GTS is a disorder that causes a canine's entire body to shake. It often occurs in small-breed, white dogs such as Maltese and West Highland white terriers. GTS symptoms usually develop during early adulthood, according to VCA Animal Hospital. Treatment typically consists of corticosteroids like prednisone, which works by suppressing the dog’s immune system. Common side effects of prednisone include increased thirst, increased appetite and increased urination. 

Old Age: Senior dogs are at increased risk for disorders that cause trembling. See your veterinarian for an exam to diagnose possible causes.

Pain: Pain is a rather general cause of trembling and shaking due to the wide variety of potential causes ranging from injuries, arthritis pain, abdominal pain, among many others. Other signs of a dog in pain include a loss of appetite, lethargy or abnormal behaviours.

Seizure Disorders: Epilepsy is a chronic condition that causes repeated seizures. Other signs may include muscle twitching, loss of consciousness, collapsing, stiffening, chomping, tongue chewing, drooling or foaming at the mouth. Some causes of seizures in dogs are preventable, but others are genetic or related to illness. Possible medical causes include brain cancer, kidney disease, liver disease and anemia. 

Poisoning: Tremors may indicate poisoning, according to WebMD. Some of these are harmless to people but toxic to your pet. For instance, items that can be poisonous for dogs include such as chocolate and xylitol.

Signs of poisoning can vary, including drooling, vomiting, weakness, disorientation, diarrhea and seizures. If you think your dog has swallowed anything potentially toxic, call your vet right away.


When Should You Talk to Your Vet?

It’s especially important to bring your dog to visit the veterinarian if:

  • Your dog is panting constantly or heavily.
  • Your dog is stumbling, shaking violently or seizing.
  • Your dog is displaying diarrhea, vomiting, anxiety or signs of pain.
  • Your dog recently consumed something abnormal
  • The shaking is unusual for your adult dog.

If your dog’s shaking seems concerning or abnormal, talk to your vet right away.

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