Why Do Dogs Shake?

At some point, most dog owners have found themselves wondering, “Why is my dog shaking?” Here, we’ll look at the possible reasons for dog shaking and what you can do to help them.

In this article, when we refer to a dog shaking, we are referring to tremors of the whole body — not the type of shaking that many dogs do to dry off when they are wet or the full-body shake that many dogs exhibit when they wake up after a nap. If your dog is repeatedly shaking just his head, this may be a sign of an ear infection and should be checked by a vet.

Dog shivering, trembling, and shaking can happen for several reasons, including medical issues or behavioral reasons. Many reasons are no cause for worry, but it is important to determine the cause and appropriate course of action. If the shaking is prolonged, it’s essential to seek a vet’s opinion.

Reasons Your Dog Is Shaking:

Your Dog Is Cold

Dog Is Cold

Like humans, dogs may shiver or shake when they’re cold. This is especially common in smaller breeds. If your dog is shaking due to the cold, it is important to keep them warm by providing them with blankets when indoors and even dressing them in coats and sweaters when outside. 


Certain breeds, like toy breeds and chihuahuas, shake more than others. These small breeds get colder easier and are also more excitable and hyperactive, which often causes shaking.

Anxious, Stressed, or Scared

Any number of factors — such as separation anxiety or loud noises like thunder and fireworks — can cause dogs to become anxious, stressed, or scared. Dogs shake to get rid of excess tension, which is why you may notice your dog panting and shaking during stressful times.

There are several solutions if your dog is shaking due to stress or anxiety. If possible, invest in a thunder shirt. This compression garment applies gentle pressure to help your dog feel safe and calm – similar to swaddling a baby.  Alternatively, you can talk to your vet about medication to help keep them calm – whether it’s a daily medicine for very anxious dogs or a calming sedative to help during stressful events.


If you’ve ever walked in the door after a long day, you know how happy your dog can be. Much like running, jumping, and barking, shaking is a common sign of excitement, particularly in young dogs with lower impulse control.


Pain can be a result of injury or simply old age. Joint pain, muscle weakness, and arthritis are widespread in older dogs. If your dog is shaking from pain, it will likely be accompanied by other symptoms like muscle weakness, limping, whimpering, etc. Shaking from pain isn’t necessarily an emergency but should be addressed by a veterinarian. Your vet can recommend the best course of action for dealing with your dog’s pain, including medication or physical therapy.


Shaking can sometimes be the result of illness. Diseases such as seizures and other neurological disorders can cause dogs to shake. Canine distemper, which is common in puppies and dogs that haven’t been fully vaccinated, can cause shaking and can be fatal. Keep an eye out for additional symptoms, including eye and nose discharge, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and see a vet immediately if any of these symptoms appear.

Additionally, accidental poisoning can cause shaking. It’s essential to keep your dog away from anything that could cause poisonings, like chocolate and marijuana. Contact your vet immediately if you think your dog may have ingested something it shouldn’t.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Shaking


Though your first thought may be to immediately call the vet, first try to determine the cause of your dog’s shaking. It may just be that he or she is cold or anxious. However, if there are other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, etc., you should call the vet right away. When it comes to your dog’s health, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.


In most cases, shaking is a dog’s natural response to temperature, anxiety, excitement, etc., and is nothing to get upset over. However, if you notice your dog shaking, it is essential to keep an eye out for other symptoms and closely monitor him or her for signs of a more severe problem.


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