Why Dogs Shake: Decoding Canine Shivers

dog shaking

Shivering and trembling may look alarming in our furry friends, but don’t automatically assume those shivers spell trouble. There are many reasons why a dog could be shaking, ranging from excitement to illness. Understanding why our beloved companions shake can deepen our bond with them and ensure their well-being. Join us on this educational journey as we explore the fascinating world of why dogs shake.

Behavioral Shaking: A Window Into Their Emotions

Dogs are emotional beings, and their shaking is often linked to their feelings. It’s a physiological response triggered by hormonal changes that cause rapid muscle contractions. These emotions can be positive or negative, driven by the ancient fight or flight response.

When your dog shakes out of excitement, it’s a beautiful expression of joy and anticipation. Picture the tail wagging, the gleaming eyes, and the wagging body, all accompanied by that adorable shake. But what makes them this excited? It could be you coming home after a long day, a rousing game of fetch, or the promise of a delicious treat.

On the other end of the spectrum lies anxiety and fear. Thunderstorms and fireworks can be downright scary for our canine companions, leading to anxiety and fear. This emotional distress releases adrenaline, causing shaking. Soothing music and engaging games can help alleviate their stress, but if things get overwhelming, consulting a vet for anti-anxiety medication may be necessary.

Environmental Shaking: Navigating Nature’s Challenges

Dogs have evolved to respond to environmental challenges, and shaking serves a purpose in adapting to nature’s whims.

To Remove Water: 

Watch in awe as your wet dog performs a vigorous shake! They’re not just having fun; they’re efficiently removing excess water from their coat. A wet coat may make them feel chilled, so invest in absorbent dog towels or cooling vests to keep them comfortable.

To Warm Up: 

Smaller dogs with thin coats may shiver as a way to generate body heat and raise their core temperature. To combat the chill, wrap them in a cozy warm coat and ensure they have a snug bed away from drafts.

Medical Causes of Shaking: A Call for Attention

Sometimes, shaking indicates an underlying medical issue, and our furry friends need our help to address it promptly.


If your dog is shaking and displaying behavioral changes like obsessive licking or biting of a specific body part, pain may be the culprit. Don’t hesitate to contact your vet for an examination and appropriate treatment.

Old Age:

Elderly dogs may shake due to fatigue, especially after strenuous exercise. While age-related muscle weakness is possible, don’t overlook the potential for pain, and seek a vet’s advice.


Nauseous dogs may show signs like excessive lip licking, drooling, and shaking. Identifying the cause of their nausea, such as food sensitivities or motion sickness, can lead to appropriate solutions.


If you suspect poisoning, don’t delay – rush your dog to the vet immediately. Substances like chocolate, cannabis, slug poison, and cigarette butts can be life-threatening.

Diseases Causing Shaking in Dogs: Identifying Health Concerns

Certain medical conditions can manifest as shaking and warrant veterinary attention.

Neurological Conditions: 

Conditions affecting the brain and nervous system, like epilepsy and cerebellar hypoplasia, may lead to seizures (shaking). Early diagnosis and proper management are crucial for the affected dog’s well-being.

Other Diseases and Conditions

From Addison’s disease to hypoglycemia and distemper, various medical issues can cause shaking in dogs. Always consult your vet for an accurate diagnosis and the best course of action.

How to Help When Your Dog Shakes: Providing Comfort and Care

As responsible pet owners, we play a significant role in comforting our dogs when they shake. Depending on the cause of their shaking, we can take appropriate steps to help them.

For behavioral shaking due to excitement, offering calming toys or engaging in calming activities like a gentle massage can help. In cases of anxiety or fear, creating a safe and secure environment can make a difference. Consider using calming aids, such as pheromone diffusers or anxiety wraps, to soothe your furry friend.

Environmental shaking, such as from being wet or cold, requires providing suitable protection and warmth. Invest in high-quality dog towels to dry them off quickly, and consider using a dog coat or warm booties to keep them comfortable during colder weather.

When medical conditions are the cause of shaking, professional veterinary care is essential. Never attempt to diagnose or treat serious health issues on your own. Your veterinarian can provide accurate diagnoses, recommend appropriate treatment, and give you peace of mind knowing your dog is in good hands.

Decoding Canine Shivers for Stronger Bonds and Better Care

Shaking is a natural and multi-faceted behavior in dogs, serving as a window into their emotions and physical well-being. Understanding the reasons behind their shaking helps us provide appropriate care and support. Whether it’s excitement, environmental challenges, or medical concerns, our furry friends depend on us to decipher their messages and take action when needed.

So, the next time your dog shakes, remember that they are communicating with you, and with a little knowledge and love, you can ensure they lead a happy and healthy life. By embracing their shivers, we strengthen the bond between humans and dogs, creating a more harmonious and joyful life for our loyal companions.

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