Why does my dog shake?

Your dog is a valuable member of your family. So when they are sick or something’s wrong, you want to do everything you can to help them.

As a pet owner, you know all the things your dog likes, and things they don’t. You can tell when something’s off. So how can you help?

One common question people come across is to find an explanation for why their dog is shaking or trembling. Dogs can be easily overwhelmed with emotion, but whether that is good or bad, hopefully we can help you determine the answer. That way, you’ll know the best way to treat any problems that may arise.

Not every single dog will have the same answer to that question, for example, there could be some underlying medical issue, but we have several explanations for shaking, and several examples of effective treatments.  

My Dog is Shivering and Shaking

Pets may shiver or tremble for a myriad of reasons. Both emotional or physical in nature. Pain, anxiousness, fear, nervousness, or, just like humans shivering, they could just be cold.  

Anxiety in dogs can be caused by loud noises or unfamiliar people or places, and there’s several methods to help comfort them. We’ll talk about them more below.

If the shivering is temperature related, that can be an easy fix as well. But if pain is the cause of the shaking, you have a few more steps to take to determine your best course of action.

If the shaking is happening along with excessive panting, your dog is likely intensely stressed, or in more serious discomfort. You should take note of how your pet is moving or walking around, and do a full assessment to check for any injury, or to be cautious, take your pet to the veterinarian.

If you don’t notice any obvious symptoms, you can give your vet a call to see what over the counter medications they recommend. 

Understanding Lethargy and Weakness

A reason for sudden shaking in your pet could be the same reason your legs feel shaky after a run. The muscle weakness in your body is something you can also understand for your dog.

If your pup overdoes it at the park or while you’re not home, you may return to find a lethargic or shaky pet. Dogs and cats can also show signs of depression and lethargy, most of which can be solved with some TLC, but there are some other symptoms you should check for to ensure nothing serious is going on.

First, make sure to take your pet’s temperature. You should know a dog’s body temperature is different than a human’s. They’re normal range is about 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

If his or her temperature is over 103.5 degrees, you may want to bring them to the vet, and same idea if the temperature is combined with other symptoms such as vomiting, limping, bloated abdomen, white gums, or something else obvious.

If your pet is still walking and eating normally, you usually shouldn’t have to worry about getting your pet to the vet urgently, but you’ll certainly want to monitor them closely over the next 24-48 hours.

What Causes Dogs to Tremble

There are several reasons why your dog might be trembling, so let’s take a closer look at some of those options, in hopes of helping you to narrow things down if the situation arises.

Anxiety

Just like people, dogs shiver if they’re anxious or afraid. Usually, a loud noise or unfamiliar circumstance could induce such anxiety.

Things like thunderstorms or fireworks can send a pup running under the bed, or even worse, running away. If you notice this is a common problem, your vet can prescribe a medication or you could try a thunder jacket, a tight fitting covering that works just as a swaddle does for an infant.

Nervousness

Just as dogs can shiver with nervousness, they can also tremble with excitement. If your dog is a sighthound, they might see a bird or squirrel they want to chase. Or if you’re getting your pet’s food prepared, they could just be excited for lunch! If that’s the case, or if they’re shaking when you get home, it’s nothing to worry about.

Cold

Again, just like humans, your dog will shiver if he or she is cold. As we mentioned above, a dog’s normal body temperature is different from a person’s, and you can’t feel for a fever by touch. So as a pet owner, you’ll want to be exceptionally careful during the winter. Make sure you have coverings for your dog’s body and paws if you feel they’re needed.

Socialization

Dogs can also be socialized to shiver. If you give your dog treats and extra attention when they’re shivering, they may be more inclined to enact that behavior more often.

Not to say you shouldn’t take your pup’s shaking seriously. But take note of this behavior just as any other, and know when to discipline if necessary.

Toxins

On a much more serious note, there are some toxins that, if ingested, can cause shaking or convulsions. If you are concerned of a more critical issue, you should go to the vet or an emergency treatment center right away.

Physiological

If a poisonous substance isn’t ingested, the shaking could still be a sign of an underlying physiological problem, like pain or sickness. That discomfort could also result in a stress or fear response in the dog, exacerbating the shivering.  

What to do if my Dog is Shaking

If you do think your dog’s shaking is caused by fear or anxiety, there are a few steps you can take to try and comfort them.

First, make sure you are calm in your interactions with your pet. Speak in a quiet and calm voice, and come down to their level. Let he or she come to you, and be open and warm. Stick with your normal routines of meal times and exercise; if you keep going on as normal, their fear may subside.

Do not grow impatient or angry. Your pet may not fully understand its circumstances, so do not scold or punish them.  

How can I stop my Dog from Shaking

If the shaking is based on your dog’s immune system fighting a virus, you should do what you can to support them. That treatment can be medications, fluids for dehydration, or more intensive treatments or therapies.

GTS, or generalized tremor syndrome, could also be the reason for shaking. Symptoms of GTS usually become evident at some point between nine months and two years old. Fortunately, it’s not permanent, and can be treated with prescription medication.

If you think your dog ingested something toxic, you can call your vet. Or the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

What can I give my dog to help with anxiety

Before you give your dog any type of medication, check with your veterinarian. That being said, the common antihistamine Benadryl is common treatment for anxiety in dogs since it acts as a very mild sedative.

If you’re looking for a more natural remedy, elements like Star of Bethlehem and Cherry Plum may also be effective. Just like with humans, regular vitamins can also be helpful.

Prescription anti-anxiety medications, such as Clomicalm or Alprazolam require a consultation with your vet. If you and the doctor decide this is the best course of treatment, you’ll be directed to give your dog the medication prior to a stressful or triggering situation, such as traveling, or the Fourth of July.

Conclusion

Even if you find your dog shaking or stressed, know that your care can make them feel much better if you know the right steps to take.

Hopefully this guide proves helpful in making sure you and your dog have a happy and stress free home!

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