It’s alarming to see our furry friends shaking, whether it’s from the cold or something else. After all, the cold isn’t the only thing that makes us shiver.
More often than not, your dog’s shaking is harmless. But, what if it’s a sign of something that needs immediate attention?
To be safe, it’s best to read up on all the things that could cause a dog to shake. It equips you with valuable knowledge needed to take action in case there’s something wrong with your favorite canine’s health.
Let’s talk about why a dog might be experiencing the trembles.
What if My Dog is Shivering or Shaking?
Chilly temperature is the most common culprit for a pet shivering. If you keep them outdoors and it’s cold out, consider bringing them inside for their comfort.
However, if your dog is clearly not cold and is shaking for some other reason, it’s wise to pay attention. The shaking could be a symptom of a health problem that needs addressing.
What About Weakness or Lethargy?
For older dogs, a shaking body means the muscles are much weaker. An old dog’s legs, for example, will develop tremors due to aging as there is less strength to hold up the body.
Shaking is also often a sign of joint pain or arthritis. Instead of letting your dog struggle with an aging body, you can take your old friend to the vet and explore treatment options to make them more comfortable.
Can Dogs Get Nasal Infections?
Like humans, dogs can get the common cold and nasal infections like rhinitis. These illnesses usually entail sneezing, a runny nose, loud breathing, and coughing.
In more severe cases, the dog will have a poor appetite, fever, and chills. These signs indicate a more serious concern. Colds are treatable with proper rest, but if these particular symptoms worsen, it’s time to visit the vet
6 Reasons Your Dog is Shivering
There are several reasons for your dog’s shaking. Let’s talk about the six most common causes.
As previously mentioned, chilly temperature is the number one culprit for dogs experiencing the shivers. Their body involuntarily responds to cold by shaking to improve blood circulation and prevent hypothermia.
For smaller breeds like Chihuahuas, the shaking will be more evident because of the small body mass and lack of insulation. These traits make it harder for their bodies to raise body temperature, leading to more severe shaking.
The easiest solution to this is to reduce your dog’s exposure to cold temperatures. If you can’t bring your dog inside, you can give them a sweater or coat to help them stay warm. You can also place their doghouse or dog bed near a heating vent.
During cold nights, a warm blanket can go a long way for a furry friend that’s prone to the shivers.
Extreme happiness and excitement can also cause your dog’s shaking. Intense emotions need to be expressed, and for some dogs, trembling is how they convey their feelings.
If this is the case, the shakes will stop once the dog calms down. There’s no real need to give it much attention.
However, if you’re currently training your dog, it may be a good idea to control the overexcited behavior. According to dog behavior expert Cesar Millan, dogs' hyperactivity can be circumvented by rewarding them when they relax and ignoring them when they're too excitable.
Stress, Anxiety, and Fear
On the other end of the emotional spectrum are stress, anxiety, and fear. In this case, a dog is often scared of stressful external factors like thunder, fireworks, and other loud noises.
The shaking itself isn't going to harm the dog, but they're still clearly having a bad time. The best you can do as an owner is reassure them by staying nearby, petting them, or providing toys as a distraction. If it’s impossible to remove the source of the noise, you can play music.
Other dogs might feel better by hiding away in a comfortable spot that they deem “safe” from the noise. It could help to let them hide in that spot.
Also, keep in mind that dogs are quite perceptive. Once they notice a human is anxious or afraid, they will likely mimic such emotions.
It’s important to let your dog know that there’s nothing to be scared of, just by being an example.
Some dogs are intelligent enough to realize that shaking is a way to get humans’ attention. Such dogs might even use this while begging for food in order to gain sympathy.
Once you're sure there's nothing actually wrong with your dog, it's vital to immediately curb this behavior. The best way to do this is to ignore it.
Pain or Illness
Like with colds or nasal infections, shivering may be a sign of an illness. In addition to these common ailments, many other conditions can cause your dog to shake.
When accompanied by muscle tremors and whimpers of pain, serious conditions like hypoglycemia, distemper, and an upset stomach become likely candidates for why your dog is shaking.
Another possible culprit is the shaker syndrome, or generalized tremor syndrome, a chronic condition that requires medication.
Any sign of pain, injury, abnormal behavior, or sickness can’t be ignored. All of the mentioned illnesses need observation, proper diagnosis, and treatment. Only the vet can do this, so it’s best to contact them immediately.
Shaking vs. Seizures
Finally, there’s the critical concern of differentiating shaking or shivering from seizures. They both involve unusual involuntary movement, but that’s more or less where the similarities end.
A seizure starts in the brain. When your dog’s brain becomes overwhelmed with electrical activity, the muscles seize up, and the dog may be unable to move or react to their surroundings. It’s much more severe compared to shivers, which still allow a pet to move somewhat.
If you notice that your dog is having a seizure, you must bring them to the emergency vet as soon as possible.
Shaking is mostly harmless as it’s an expression of an emotion or reaction to the external environment. But sometimes, if a dog’s behavior is too abnormal, it may be time to give it some serious attention.
Whether it turns out to be a mild or serious illness, what's vital is that both owners and dogs get peace of mind by trying to address the shaking.