"Why Do Dogs Get the Shakes ?

"Why Do Dogs Get the Shakes ?

Health & Safety

If your dog starts to shake, tremble or shiver, it could be a sign that's something is not quite right and this could mean a visit to the vet. However, knowing when your dog is shivering or shaking out of excitement or when something is wrong, allows you to make an informed decision as to whether your four-legged friend is feeling unwell or just beside themselves with joy!

The Over Excited Dog

Many dogs get really excited at the prospect of something happening. In fact, a lot of pooches get so thrilled about things, they can start to actually tremble in anticipation which can be a little worrying at times. Other reasons why your pet might start to shiver is when they look out of a window and see a cat or another dog walking by. Your pet trembles with excitement, one would assume, at the prospect of being to chase the cat and say big hello"" to their canine counterpart but it's great fun to watch them do it!

If you have a ""food monster"" in the house in the form of a furry friend, you may also notice when feed time comes around, your dog starts to shiver with anticipation too and this is especially true if they know they are going to be given something really special to eat.

The Anxious & Afraid Dog

When a dog gets scared by something which could a loud noise, a firework going off or even a car back-firing, they will often shake out of pure fear. Dogs that don't really like going for rides in the car often shake out of anxiety when they get in a vehicle. The best way to calm them down after they've had a big scare of any kind is to wrap them in a blanket or towel and hold them close to you whilst at the same time talking to them in a reassuring voice. This helps calm them down when they need it most.

The thing to remember is that puppies and young dogs can be affected very badly by something that scares them so it's important for you to make sure you give them all the reassurance they need as soon as you can.

The Intelligent Dog

Some very clever dogs learn to shake, shiver and tremble because they know you'll give them a cuddle when they do. If the truth be known, your clever pooch has actually succeeded in training you and they know their little ""trick"" works every time! This behaviour can be cute at first but then it can soon turn into a nightmare when your pooch does it to you out on a walk in a very busy park when it can prove a little embarrassing.

The best way to solve the problem is to give your pet the attention they need evenly throughout the day and evening. This will teach them nicely that they don't have to put on an act to get a cuddle or two!

The Cold & Chilly Dog

Although dogs may look like they have lovely warm coats and could cope with all sorts of elements, if your pet gets too wet they can really feel the cold. If you own a hairless dog, you would have to invest in a nice warm coat for them to wear during the chilly winter months. With this said, if you go on a long walk with your dog and you both get soaked to the skin, you should dry your dog off with a nice soft towel. If you notice your dog shivering, the chances are they are feeling the cold which means you have to keep them in a nice cosy room until they've warmed up again.

However, dogs can also get the shakes on really hot days if they are left in a draughty room when they are wet. They could be soaking wet because they played with the hosepipe or maybe you've just given them a nice bath! It's much better to towel them off even on a hot summer's day which is the best way to avoid them getting cold!

The Sick & Under The Weather Dog

Sickly dogs shake because they are feeling under the weather or they could be in pain. If you suspect something is wrong with your pet, you should get them to the vet as soon as you can. The vet would be able to diagnose the problem and then recommend the right sort of treatment to give your poorly pooch so they make a speedy recovery.

There are certain more serious health conditions where shaking is one of the symptoms and this includes the following:

  • Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS) which is more commonly known as white shaker dog syndrome as it affects small, white dogs like West Highland terriers and Maltese Terriers
  • Distemper which is a virus that often raises its ugly head in dogs before they reach adulthood
  • An Addisonian crisis which is caused by an under active adrenal gland
  • Inflammatory brain diseases
  • Seizure disorders
  • Chronic kidney failure

The Poisoned Dog

There are quite a few toxic substances that dog owners commonly have in their homes and which dogs can easily get hold of. This includes the following:

  • Cigarettes
  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol which is a sugar substitute used widely in chewing gum

These are just three of the things commonly found in the home and all of them are poisonous to a dog if they ingest them. One of the symptoms of poisoning in dogs is shaking, trembling and shivering and if you think your pet has eaten anything toxic they found around the house, you have to get them to the vet as a matter of emergency or it could prove fatal. You have to tell the vet what you think your dog has eaten so they know how to treat your pet correctly too!

The Senior Citizen Dog

As dog reach their senior years very often they develop the trembles and this is particular evident on their front legs. The shakes could be due to weakened muscles paired to a touch of arthritis which can make it hard for them to stand and painful when they walk. However, older dogs need to have more frequent check-ups with the vet to make sure nothing untoward is going on too!


Dogs get the shakes and shivers for many reasons, so recognising why your pet is trembling is important especially if there's a health problem going on. The earlier an illness or disease is diagnosed the better it can be treated. If you own a spaniel, this is one breed that can really shake when they get over excited which can be great fun to watch. However, knowing this type of behaviour is because your dog is overjoyed or excited about something is one thing but if there's something wrong a trip to the vet is essential.


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