Why Is Your Dog Shaking?
21 July, 2015
Dog Shaking

We know how our dogs love to shake to have a release of energy or just to get attention.  Shaking is a way for dogs to let out some adrenaline, dry themselves off, and get moving after they have awakened from a nap. Not all shakes are happy and there are many reason which might cause a dog to shiver or tremble.  Therefore, it is important for you to understand and recognize the difference.

Below are some reasons why your dog might be shaking and what to do about it.

Your dog is shaking after exercise or getting wet… the good shakes!

If you have a dog, you’re familiar with the wet dog shake. That wild body twitching, jowl flapping, post-bath dance is actually a healthy reflex for furry animals, allowing them to quickly dry themselves and prevent hypothermia. Another healthy behavior is the excited shake. When dogs are playing with you or other dogs they might occasionally shudder while jumping, licking, or nuzzling. It’s how they show emotion and let out their pent up energy.

Dog Shaking


Your dog might shake out of fear or some other anxiety.  New people or scary animals, thunderstorms, a visit to the vet, fireworks you are some of the common triggers that can spark anxiety. Unlike the happy shakes, this automatic response to stress may be accompanied by panting, chewing on furniture, and other anxious behavior. Your dog may hide, growl, or display signs of aggression as well. Some breeds are more prone to anxiety, but disposition and circumstances also play a large part in a dog’s reaction to stress. If chronic anxiety is a problem and a medical condition has been ruled out, you might want to see an animal behaviorist.

White Dog Shaker Syndrome is a treatable illness that could cause your dog to shake

White Dog Shaker Syndrome is a serious illness that could cause your dog to shake or tremble. These movements are very different from the happy shakes and can usually be ruled out as anxiety-related since they’re not a reaction to specific stressors. White dog shaker syndrome (also known as Generalized Tremor Syndrome and responsive tremor syndrome) is one of these disorders, causing full body tremors in young dogs. While first discovered in small breeds, it can occur in any dog, regardless of size or breed. Treated with steroids, such as prednisone, your dog should start to improve within a couple weeks.

Muscle Fatigue and/or exhaustion

In the same way your legs might be shaky after a long run, a dog’s legs might shake after exertion. This type of trembling is often confined to the legs and resolves after a period of rest.  If this happens often, the trembling is severe or it happens with no apparent cause and happens too often after a walk or a form of exercise, it could be something other than muscle exhaustion and you should take your dog to the vet.

Your dog might shake because he has eaten or swallowed something toxic. 

A number of toxins cause shaking in dogs. Some of these include the following:

Snail bait and other insecticides, chocolate, certain medications, bacteria in spoiled food, poisonous plants, salt, detergent or anything under your sink, salt, xylitol.

If your dog is shaking and you have reason to suspect that the animal could possibly have been exposed to any type of toxin, take the pet to the nearest emergency clinic immediately. If your pet has been poisoned, early treatment might save the dog’s life.

Canine Distemper can cause your dog to shake

This virus, marked by fever, coughing, and nasal discharge, can also cause seizures and tremors. Puppies that haven’t been fully vaccinated are at greatest risk. You should see your vet immediately if you notice symptoms or suspect your dog has been exposed to distemper. There’s no cure, but your vet can manage symptoms and help prevent secondary infections with intravenous fluids and antibiotics until your dog’s immune system fights off the virus.

Chronic kidney disease or Addison’s disease

Pets with chronic kidney disease or renal failure can be symptom-free for a very long time; then suddenly you might notice that your dog seems to drink and urinate more frequently. Other signs, including shaking, might follow as the damage progresses rapidly. While you can’t cure it, you can manage renal disease with therapy and treatments allowing you to offer your dog the best quality of life possible.

Dogs with Addison’s disease lack sufficient cortisol. Signs of Addison’s include loss of energy and strength, gastrointestinal problems, and little or no appetite. Trembling is another symptom. Addison’s is often misdiagnosed, which can lead to more severe problems. If your dog seems chronically ill and undernourished, talk to your doctor about all the possible causes to ensure that, if it is Addison’s, treatment can be given as soon as possible.

Senior dogs can shake just from old age

Unfortunately, aging dogs are at increased risk for disorders that cause trembling and cognitive deterioration. You can’t reverse the decline, but you can work with your vet to find therapies and treatments\that will help reduce discomfort and support your pet during the senior years.


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