Why is my puppy shivering?

Why is my puppy shivering?

Health & Safety

Like humans, puppies (and adult dogs) shiver for all sorts of different reasons and most of the time, the shivering is transient or short term and often occurs because the pup is simply a little chilly!

However, shivering can also indicate illness, a hereditary health condition, or distress among other things, and so if your pup is shivering or seems to suffer from bouts of shivering and you’re not sure why, it is important to get to the bottom of the issue and find the cause.

In this article we will look at some of the various different things that can trigger shivering in puppies, and provide some direction into identifying the cause if your own pup seems to have a bout of the tremors. Read on to learn the main causes of shivering in puppies.

Too cold

The first thing to think about if your puppy is shivering is of course whether they are warm enough! Pups aren’t as good at naturally regulating their own body temperatures as adult dogs are, and particularly when your puppy first goes outside and faces the elements after having been used to only the relatively consistent temperature in the home, they might find the temperature a little nippy.

Pups that are petite, lean, and shorthaired – like the Italian greyhound and Chihuahua – are particularly susceptible to the cold, and it is also important to think about how your pup will keep warm at night when they’re on their own in their bed and the heating may be turned off.


Getting used to being in a new home away from their dam and littermates can be very daunting for a young puppy, and they may show signs of distress during their first few days with you, as they adjust to their new lifestyle and learn to live without the family they were born with.

This can lead to shivering, crying, and other signs of distress – but it will usually resolve itself within a few days.


A puppy that is hungry will feel the cold more, as their bodies won’t have enough fuel from food to keep them warm. This can lead to shivering and again, tends to be more common in finely built, delicate dogs that don’t have a lot of fat supplies to keep them warm.


Dogs dream just as people do, and when your pup is asleep, they go through the process of REM sleep that occurs when they dream. During REM sleep, your pup’s eyes might flicker under their closed lids, and they may twitch or move about in response to the dream stimulus – and shivering may simply be a part of this.


Any dog or puppy that is scared or very anxious might shiver, and again, some pups are more highly strung and sensitive than others, and so more likely to get nervous or fearful. Puppies go through a steep learning process during their first year of life, and will have many “firsts” in terms of seeing, doing, and facing new things – and some of them are likely to be a little scary until they get used to everything!

Even among adult dogs, some dogs will tend to be more sensitive and apt to being fearful than others, which can in turn, cause shaking from nerves or fear.


A pup that is very excited or can’t wait to go for a walk or out to play might shiver from excitement – this tends to be the case among highly active, intelligent dog breeds that are really keen to go out exploring, meet new dogs and people, and run around!

Again, specific breeds – like pointers, and dogs from the pointer group – sometimes shiver or tremor when they are pointing, or concentrating on something very hard, so this is something else to bear in mind.

Hereditary health disorders

Certain hereditary health disorders can cause shivering or shaking as one of their symptoms, such as white shaker syndrome, which affects some dogs of the West Highland white terrier dog breed. If you know that your dog is from a breed that is known to have risk factors for certain health conditions that cause tremoring or shaking and you witness your dog shaking and don’t know why, ask your vet to examine them and potentially, run some tests to reach a formal diagnosis.

Illness and infections

A wide range of different infectious diseases and illnesses can cause shivering in affected dogs, and when it comes to young puppies, the most serious of these is parvovirus or parvo. This is an infectious viral condition that makes young puppies very sick and often proves fatal, and shivering is one of the symptoms that occur in affected pups.

Ensuring that your keep your puppy indoors and away from other dogs until they have been vaccinated against parvovirus and all of the other core communicable canine health conditions can help to prevent this, and potentially, save your pup’s life – so don’t take chances when your pup is young, and always take them to the vet immediately if they seem to be coming down with something.

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