Why is my dog shaking

If you are a dog owner, chances are you have seen your dog shake off the water a few times, probably after a walk in the rain or a time in the bath. Perhaps you had also seen your pooch shake or shiver at some other times when there was no water involved.

A dog’s shake, shiver or tremble can mean a variety of things. It could be excitement from seeing you that make your dog shake and shiver or it could be something unhealthy, like poisoning.

What does it mean when your dog shakes? Here are some probable answers:

Happiness and Excitement

It doesn’t really take much to for a dog to get excited, right? The sight of food in a bowl, a squirrel or cat in the garden, or just seeing you home after work can cause your pup to bark and shake for minutes on end.

While this kind of happy and excited shake isn’t exactly unhealthy and mostly disappears with old age, there are some dogs who get overly excited. In such cases, you can simply calm your pooch by calling out soft and brief greetings. You might also consider some training methods that help dogs rein in their excitement, like teaching your dog to sit before a pat or greeting.


Food items that are considered generally harmless for human beings are toxic to dogs. Cigarettes (nicotine poisoning), chocolate, and xylitol (substitute for sugar in chewing gums),) are all harmful to dogs and may cause convulsions, tremors or shake.

Other symptoms of poisoning include lack of excitement, excessive drooling, disorientation, seizure, vomiting, obvious weakness, and diarrhea. You should visit a vet if you suspect that your dog has ingested any toxic substance.

Stress and anxiety attacks

Stress and anxiety can also cause dogs to shiver. Fireworks, thunderstorms, an unfamiliar environment, travel, or any kind of change in routine, are some common triggers of anxiety attacks in dogs. Besides shaking, dogs may also respond to stressful situations by hiding, panting, growling, and displaying other aggressive behaviors. Once you have identified the common triggers of anxiety, you can use some behavioral training methods to help your dog overcome them. Your veterinarian may also prescribe an anti-anxiety medication, like clomicalm, and also help you explore some therapeutic options.


Canine distemper is caused by a virus and occurs most commonly in puppies that haven’t been fully inoculated or vaccinated. Some common symptoms of distemper include coughing, eye and nose discharge, fever, and coughing. A dog infected with the virus may also experience tremors and shakes. Visit your vet doctor as soon as possible if you notice your puppy is displaying any of these symptoms. There’s no known cure for the virus yet, but your veterinarian can help treat symptoms and resulting infections until your dog’s immune system is strong enough to overcome the virus.

Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)

Another possible cause of tremors and shakes in dogs is the Generalized Tremor Syndrome, also known as White dog shaker syndrome or responsive tremor syndrome. GTS is a disorder which causes body tremors in young and adolescent dogs.

Although it was first discovered among the West Highland White and Maltese terriers, GTS is restricted to any breed and can occur in any dog. There is no known cause for GTS, but it can be treated with corticosteroids like prednisone.


Like humans, dogs can also get nauseated. Your dog can get nauseous from overeating or ingest toxic substances, motion sicknesses, and medication. Dogs may show that they are nauseated by shaking or shivering. Some other signs of nausea include yawning, hiding, restlessness, and vomiting. If your pet shows these signs, visit your vet for treatment.

Addison’s disease

Dogs with Addison’s have a low supply of the cortisol hormone. Symptoms of Addison’s disease include a lack of appetite, weakness and trembling or shaking. If your dog is ill and is displaying any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately to ensure the disease is treated as soon as possible.

Old age

An aging dog is more susceptible to disorders and illnesses that cause tremors and shaking. Shaking in old age can’t be reversed, buy your vet can introduce you to therapeutic options and treatment (like Dasquin and Deramaxx), that will help lower discomfort levels in your old buddy.

A dog may shake in excitement or pain. If at any time you are suspicious of your dog’s shaking or shivering, do well to contact your vet.