Symptom checker - Panting and shaking in the dog

Symptom checker - Panting and shaking in the dog

Health & Safety

If your generally healthy dog suddenly appears to take a funny turn and begins acting oddly, panting or breathing heavily and shaking or tremoring, this can be very concerning for the owner, who may not know what is amiss or what to do next. Just as people can be taken ill rather suddenly on occasion for various reasons, so too can dogs, and panting, shaking and shivering are all very generalised indications of something being wrong.

In this article, we will look into panting and shaking in combination in more detail, what can lead to this happening, and what you should do. Read on to learn more about panting and shaking in dogs.

More about panting and shaking

Panting and shaking in combination may come on suddenly or develop over a period of time, and knowing when the problem started can help you to narrow down the potential causes. If your dog has already been diagnosed with any form of ongoing health condition, it is wise to talk to your vet in-depth about what you can expect from this, and if symptoms or funny turns including panting and shaking can be expected, and what to do about it.

In combination, shaking and panting can be caused by or be indicative of a whole range of potential conditions, from heart problems to overheating and a whole range of other things besides. Some of the most common causes of panting and shaking are covered below.

Panting on its own

If your dog is hyperventilating, gasping for air or panting heavily but is not tremoring and shaking, this can be indicative of simple exertion that will ease off when your dog calms down. First of all, take them to a shaded area, keep them calm and give them some water to see if the panting eases up on its own.

Heat stroke

If your dog has overheated badly, such as by taking part in high energy exercise on a very hot day without taking time to cool down regularly, they may be suffering from heat stroke, which is the most common cause of panting and shaking in combination.

While heatstroke is something that most people are aware of and that afflicts a reasonable number of dogs every summer, it is still a serious situation that can quickly escalate to emergency status, so check out this article for full details on the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs, and how to avoid it.

Problems with the heart

In serious cases, panting and shaking that is acute or that occurs regularly may be indicative of heart problems in your dog, as if the heart is enlarged, it can press against the lungs and occlude breathing. Your dog may then also begin to shake, as the blood cannot get enough oxygen to properly aerate the major organs.

Fever and infection

If your dog is running a fever as the result of an infection, this hyperthermia (abnormally high temperature) can cause panting and associated shaking, as your dog’s body works to try to lower their core temperature. Infections can come in many forms including viral and bacterial, and if they have gotten to the stage that the infection is causing fever and shakes, this means your dog needs to see the vet ASAP.

Blood sugar imbalances

Low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia can lead to panting and shaking, and this is one of the main indicators of low blood sugar in diabetic dogs. However, it is not only diabetic dogs that can suffer from low blood sugar, and small, delicate breeds such as the Italian greyhound and the Chihuahua are often very sensitive to fluctuations in blood sugar, and its associated side effects too.

Ingestion of toxins

If your dog has eaten something that is toxic or poisonous to them, the early symptoms of poisoning can include panting and tremoring, as their bodies fight to deal with the attack. If you suspect that your dog may have got their teeth into something that is toxic, such as certain types of plants, grapes, chocolate or xylitol (a common artificial sweetener) take them to the vet ASAP, as early intervention may save their life.

Acute pain

If your dog is in severe pain, this can lead to symptoms such as panting and shaking as a side effect of this, so try to work out if your dog is ill or injured, and if they are displaying any other symptoms. If you are not sure, get them to the vets as soon as you can.


A dog that is very frightened will exhibit a range of signs of fear including panting and shaking, as well as potentially other signs of distress such as defensive aggression, hiding, or running off. Many dogs are very fearful of loud noises, and so events such as bonfire night or New Year’s Eve when fireworks are being set off may greatly affect your dog.

Internal injuries or trauma

Finally, if you cannot ascertain why your dog is shaking and panting, you may have to consider the possibility that they have internal injuries or some form of illness that is causing them significant pain and discomfort, and that is manifesting as tremors and panting. If for any reason you cannot work out what is wrong, get your dog to the vet to be on the safe side.



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