What does it mean when your Dog is Shaking?

What does it mean when your Dog is Shaking?

5 minutes read

Many things can cause a dog to start shivering or trembling. This could stem from delight and joy at its owner returning home from work, or it may be a side effect of having consumed something toxic and detrimental.

Still, if you are interested in learning more about the common reasons that cause a dog to shiver, then we are here for you. The following explanation will certainly be illuminating for you and will explain what to do and when to contact the vet.

So, let’s dive into it shall we

Going to the Vet

Ok, first thing’s first, let’s get the more serious symptoms out of the way. You take your dog to the vet if the situation becomes uncontrollable and appalling. There are numerous reasons for a dog to shiver, amongst which nausea, old age, pain, excitement, etc. can be counted.

If your pup is shivering and trembling simultaneously then it could be an indicator of some major problem, like kidney disease, poisoning, or trauma. So, if your dog starts shivering or trembling suddenly then you should closely monitor it for some other symptoms as well. These include diarrhea, limping, vomiting, etc. If your dog displays any of these symptoms in addition to shivering, then you must waste no time in taking it to a vet.

Common Causes and Treatments

There are some more common reasons when it comes to explaining shivering in dogs. These can be listed as follows for your convenience and information:


Distemper in dogs is caused by a virus and it appears in puppies and adolescent dogs frequently if they don’t receive full vaccination against it. Canine Distemper can cause shivering and tremors in a dog. You will be able to identify distemper in your dog if a discharge is coming from its nose and eyes, or if it is coughing, has a fever, and is generally uncomfortable as well.

Treating Distemper in dogs is quite straightforward. You want to provide supportive care to your pup so that its immune system starts combating the disease/virus. You can give antibiotics and airway dilators for this purpose. Also, it helps if you subject your dog to physical therapy and manage dehydration by providing it with plenty of fluids.

GTS (Generalized Tremor Syndrome)

GTS, or Steroid Responsive Tremor Syndrome or white shaker dog syndrome (a lot of names for the same thing) can be found more frequently among smaller, white breeds of dogs such as west highland white terriers, Maltese, etc. But, that doesn’t mean that it won’t manifest or affect dogs of varying sizes or breeds either, irrespective of their color. There are no concrete reasons for the manifestation of GTS at present mind you. The symptoms of this disease start when the dog is between the age of 9 months to 2 years.

GTS in dogs can be treated by corticosteroids, such as prednisone. Once the treatment has been started, it can take a week before improvement can be seen in affected dogs.


Dogs can get nauseous from motion sickness just like we humans do. They can also get nauseous if they eat too much, or eat something toxic to them. Kidney or liver disease in dogs can also result in nausea. Shaking in dogs might be a symptom of nausea and if it is accompanied by other signs such as lip-smacking, excessive salivating, yawning, vomiting, hiding, etc. then it is nausea.

Nausea can be treated only if you know the actual cause. If it has eaten too much then more fluids, like water, are the best treatment. But, if your dog has eaten something poisonous then it will start vomiting. Whether if you know or don’t know about what it is ingested, the first thing that you should do is contact your vet immediately.

Old Age

Dogs get older and as they do they start to get weaker and develop tremors in their hind legs. These tremors can also develop in the front legs as well but they usually don’t impair how your dog walks or moves. But, other things can cause shaking in dogs besides old age. This shaking can also be due to pain and discomfort. A dog can develop pain in its joints when it gets older after all. Under such circumstances, your best bet is to contact your vet so that he can mitigate this problem to some extent.


Many materials can be poisonous to dogs such as chocolate, cigarettes, xylitol, etc. if your dog consumes either of these materials then it can be poisoned. The symptoms of poisoning in dogs vary from tremors, drooling, vomiting, depression, seizures, etc. If you suspect that your dog has eaten something poisonous then we recommend you waste no time in calling the vet.

Seizure Disorders

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder and it affects dogs severely. Affected dogs are prone to stiffening, twitching, drooling, tongue chewing, collapsing, shivering, trembling, etc. These dogs can also fall on their side and make paddling motions with their legs. Medications like Keppra, potassium bromide, or phenobarbital can be given to control seizures in dogs.


A dog is a happy animal and it doesn’t take much to get its gears going. Just the sight of you returning home after work can get your dog going. It will bark with joy, jump up and down, and might even start shaking with happiness as well. Heck, some dogs even pee themselves if they get too excited.

Now, this usually happens in younger dogs and they grow out of it when they get older. But, you should maybe start putting some barriers and conditioning. Train your dog to contain its excitement and ease it out of this phase. Your encouraging behavior and gentle reprimanding will go a long way towards controlling this issue.

So, there you have it, all the reasons that might be the culprit for your dog to start shaking or trembling. Remain vigilant in these cases and above all don’t panic. It will only make things worse for you and your canine pal and no one wants that now right?