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Why Is My Dog Shaking? Common Causes of Shaking In Dogs

Why Is My Dog Shaking? Common Causes of Shaking In Dogs

To properly take care of our dogs, we need to pay attention to them always. Most times, your dog communicates to you via its body movement, and it is of utmost importance that you can grasp the message. This is the only way you can guarantee your dog’s safety; responding appropriately at the right time.

Dogs shake for various reasons; the most common reasons are when they are ill, scared, in pain, cold, or need to dry their body. Other subtle reasons for dogs to shake are excitement, anxiety, nausea, stress, fear, distemper, fatigue or old age, muscle weakness, epilepsy, and toxin ingestion.

Sometimes, they could be easily seen shaking when cold, and we could assume this is normal due to cold. However, beyond cold, dogs often shake for other reasons too. Understanding the cause of their shake would help us know how to take care of them.

dalmata shaking

Why Is My Dog Shaking?

Temperature is not the only reason why dogs shake. Even in hot weather, you could still find your dog shaking and shivering. We are not disregarding cold as a reason why dogs shake, but there are other causes. Some of the causes could require a medical checkup, while others require little treatment and care from you.

Shaking is common in dogs, especially small-sized dogs. However, when a normally cheerful dog begins to shake without being cold, you should be worried because something is wrong and address it quickly. There are many reasons why dogs shake. Some could be less severe, while others need medical checkups and attention.

Below are possible causes why your dog shakes;

Cold Weather

Cold is a common reason why many dogs shake. Just as humans shiver when we are cold, dogs shake too due to cold. This happens due to our body reacting to a temperature that is not desirable.

Smaller dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas are more prone to cold. They lack body mass and insulation to stay warm when the temperature reduces. So, they shake and shiver to get their blood flowing for a warm-up.

When you notice your dog is shaking due to cold, ensure you limit its level of exposure to cold weather. A dog sweater will help ease the shivers and keep your dog warm. Also, if your dogs’ bed is on a concrete floor, you can add cardboard underneath its bed for extra insulation.


When some dogs are filled with emotions, they could begin to shake. For instance, when you return home after a long time away, your dog could get so excited seeing you that it begins to shake. This is normal for some dogs; you do not have to be too worried. All you need to do is find a way to make the dog calm.

Once the dog gets relaxed, the shaking is likely going to stop. Shaking due to excitement is common in younger dogs, and it is an instinctive reaction to an overwhelming feeling of joy. If you openly display excitement to the dog, the shaking will continue, but the shaking stops when you are relaxed and keep it down.


As good emotions could make your dogs shake, intense emotions often cause dogs to shake too. The anxiety might be due to noises from thunderstorms or fireworks. Whenever you notice your dog shaking due to anxiety, you need to find a way of keeping it calm. If a dog does not feel safe, it will shake also.

There are other signs that will show when your dog is stressed; you will see it whimpering, panting, hiding, and flattening its ears. Although this is usually not a cause for worry, you should try to help the dog calm down.

One way to help is by making sure they are trained not to get scared of such noises anymore. For instance, you could use proper training to relieve fireworks anxiety. However, If you cannot keep the dog calm despite training them to deal with external stressors, it is best to seek more professional advice from your vet.


When your dog is shaking, and you notice symptoms such as vomiting, lip-smacking, salivating, it is a sign that your dog is nauseous. Some form of discomfort could also cause a dog to shake. Motion sickness, overfeeding, stomach upset, kidney and liver disease, or some certain medications’ side effects could cause a dog to get nauseous.

When your dog displays some of the symptoms mentioned, you should take it to a veterinary doctor for a proper checkup. If the nausea results from a drug side effect, the best thing is to stop using such drugs. Then, speak to your vet on alternative medications to use.

paw dog happy


Dogs that are not fully vaccinated are prone to a distemper virus. This virus often affects puppies and young dogs. It attacks the dog’s gastrointestinal and respiratory systems. Symptoms of the distemper virus are fever, discharge from eyes, nasal discharge, vomiting, and reduced appetite.

To avoid distemper, dogs are expected to receive the distemper vaccination within every three years right from when they were born. However, if your dog is down due to not being vaccinated, your dog’s immune system would be left to fight the virus. So, while that is going on, your dog would need some antibiotics and fluids for proper treatment.

Old Age

The older a dog gets, the more likely its muscles become weaker and develop tremors. Their legs might be affected, causing them to shake and not walk properly. When you notice this in your dog as it gets older, ensure you reach out to a veterinary doctor for a proper checkup.

Related post: Dog Dandruff: Causes, How To Prevent It, And Get Rid Of It

What Should I Do If My Dog Is Shaking?

Knowing why your dog is shaking would help you understand the best way to take care of it. We have already explained above some of the reasons why dogs shake. So, the nature of treatment or care given to the dog would be dependent on the cause of its shaking.

Some treatments might require the need of a vet or a behaviorist, while you could easily do others. For instance, if your dog is shaking due to cold, you should get a way of warming it up and also ensure it has a low exposure level to cold. However, if the dog has distemper, you need to have it examined and taken care of by a vet.

Should I be Worried About My Dog Shaking?

It is not every time you see your dog shaking that you should take it to a vet; most times, it could be cold, excitement, fatigue, old age, or it needs to get its body dry. Some signs let you know when you need to take the dog to a veterinary doctor for treatment, they are;

  • If the dog’s shaking interferes with its normal activity like bedtime or playtime.
  • If there are other symptoms with the shaking like anxiety, lethargy,  vomiting, limping, or diarrhea.
  • If the dog starts to shake after it ingests something strange.
  • If the dog looks distressed when shaking.

Why Do Small Dogs Shake?

Small dogs tend to shake more than big dogs, mainly because of their body size. They do not have body fat like bigger dogs. So, small dogs will shake more than larger dogs in cold weather. Small dogs shake for the same reasons other dogs shake; excitement, cold, nausea, nervousness, anxiety, fear, injury, muscle weakness, and in extreme cases underlying health conditions.

Final Thoughts

As long as you own a dog, you should ensure it is always relaxed, warm, well-exercised, receives preventive care, and has no access to toxins. In doing this, you are protecting your dog from various health issues; this will also save you money that could have been spent on treatment.

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Pant So Much? Main Causes