The sight of your furry best friend shaking is a terrifying sight for many pet owners. But there are many reasons for a shake, including plenty of harmless ones! But you can’t know just by guessing, here are six of the most common causes for shaking and what to do to help.
Six Common Answers for “Why Is My Dog Shaking?”
The simplest answer – they are cold! This isn’t quite shaking obviously, but shivering and that’s a natural, involuntary response in animals (humans do it too!). Their bodies are attempting to warm themselves up and they do that by attempting to pump blood and raise the body temperature. Some smaller dogs are more prone to shivering and shaking because of their lack of mass and body fat. If you are in a cold environment and see your dog shivering you need to get them something to help prevent hypothermia. A dog sweater, or wrapping them in a warm blanket can help them keep the heat in.
Perhaps the best cause of a shaking dog is excitement! This isn’t well understood why the dogs shake but it seems to have to do with an inability to control their energy and intense emotion. If your dog is excited about you getting home or a visitor, they might shake as they calm down but it will calm down. Once you understand that your dog is a shaker when excited it can also help calm the nerves in future instances.
They’re Stressed, Scared, or Anxious
Excitement isn’t the only emotion that can cause shaking. Stress, fear, and anxiety can all cause a shaking reaction and while the shaking itself isn’t harmful – you should look to find the cause and address it! Anxiety, stress, and fear aren’t healthy emotions for your dog to have to deal with for long. Reassure them that they are safe, remove whatever is causing them stress, and help redirect their attention.
They Want Attention
If your dog has shaken in the past and gotten an immediate dose of attention from you (and why wouldn’t they, you’re worried!) they may start to equate the shaking with your attention. If you notice this, it is best to ignore their shaking until it’s not a habit, you don’t want to reinforce negative behaviors.
They’re Hurt or Sick
This is the cause we’re most worried about of course, does their shaking indicate something is wrong. It very well could, there are a number of different illnesses or problems that could have shaking as a symptom. Distemper, brain diseases, hypoglycemia, or even just an upset stomach all could manifest with shaking.
Look for other signs of illness or injury and call your vet right away.
With old age comes weakening muscles and joints. This can cause dogs to shake more as they’re bodies struggle. It can also be a sign of joint pain, or arthritis developing. If your dog is a senior age and dealing with shakes, get them checked out by a vet and see what things you can do to help care for them in their twilight years.
A Final Note
It’s important to remember that shaking or shivering are drastically different than a seizure. A seizure involves the dog losing both their mobility and also consciousness. If you even slightly suspect that your dog is having seizures you need to get in touch with a vet as soon as possible, because this is an emergency.
While most causes of shaking can be harmless, you’ll want to speak with your vet about it regardless – it’s scary but you’ll likely be able to help them!