As a dog owner, seeing your beloved companion shaking for no apparent reason can be unnerving and downright frightening. What’s making your pup shake? Often, this behavior isn’t cause for concern. That said, there are times when shaking is a sign that something serious is going on with your pooch.
Here are seven reasons why your dog might be shaking…
1. They’re Excited
Some dogs tremble or shiver with excitement when they see their owners or meet a new friend.
Although the shaking looks a little strange, don’t be concerned. The only real negative associated with this behavior is that it can cause your pup to become a bit overexcited. If this is the case, it’s best to ignore this behavior, and give your dog a hug or a proper greeting when they calm down a bit.1
2. They’re Cold
Your dog will shiver when they’re cold, just like you do. This is just one of the many reasons that dogs should never be left outside when the temperature plunges. When the mercury dips, bring your dog indoors. Consider having your dog wear a sweater or a coat when you walk them during a cold snap – especially if your pooch is shorthaired. You might also want to consider giving your pet some small booties to wear so their paws don’t get too cold.
Shaking could be a sign your dog is stressed out. If your pooch has a problem riding in the car, going to the veterinarian, and hates thunderstorms or being around loud noises, they might begin trembling in those situations. Anxiety can lead to whole-body tremors. It’s hard to know exactly why certain things trigger stress in your dog, but you might be able to alleviate this behavior through training. If not, and your pup still shakes when they’re stressed, see what your veterinarian thinks. Chronic stress isn’t good for your dog, and it can lead to potential health issues, or even shorten their lifespan.2
4. Addison’s Disease
There are some instances where shaking can be a sign of an illness. For example, Addison’s disease can cause a dog to shake, and it can be a serious condition.3 But your dog can still live a long, healthy life with Addison disease, as long as they get the proper treatment.
It is believed that Addison’s disease is a type of autoimmune disorder. It can occur as a result of damage to the adrenal gland. This, in turn, can result in symptoms such as shaking, a lack of appetite, and intestinal problems. Other warning signs include increased thirst and urination, depression and bloody stools.4
Addison’s disease is serious because it can alter the levels of several important minerals in your dog’s system, such as potassium. It can eventually cause heart problems. In severe cases, a dog can go into shock, which could potentially be fatal. If you notice any of the signs of Addison’s disease, get your dog to the vet immediately.5
5. Ear Infection
If your dog shakes their head violently on a regular basis, they may have an ear infection. Ear infections are common in dogs, and especially so in dogs with floppy ears. But there are other signs a dog will give when there’s something wrong inside their ear canal. You might notice your pup pawing at their mouth, tilting their head in an odd fashion, having balance problems, or leaning to one side. It might also be painful for your dog to open their mouth.6
The most common reason for an ear infection is an overgrowth of harmful microbes. Bacteria are the usual culprits, but yeasts and fungi can also cause the problem. Less common reasons for ear infection include a foreign object in the ear canal, or a polyp or tumor.7 Thankfully, infections can typically be treated very easily with prescription ear drops from a veterinarian.
Seizures can, unfortunately, be common in dogs. When a dog has repeated seizures, that is usually known as epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures, but other problems can cause them as well. These include a brain tumor, a brain injury, kidney failure, or liver disease.8
Although a seizure can be incredibly disturbing to witness, it’s not painful for your dog.9 And dogs don’t swallow their tongues during seizures, so you won’t need to stick your finger in their mouth to keep their airway open. The best thing you can do if your pup experiences severe shaking and a suspected seizure, to keep them from hitting any objects that might injure them during the episode. Then, when it is over, call your veterinarian immediately and get them in for an exam.10
While a single seizure is rarely dangerous, it can actually be fatal if it lasts for more than five minutes. This type of seizure, known as “status epilepticus,” is rare, but it is potentially fatal if not treated immediately. Get your dog to the veterinarian immediately, as this is a medical emergency.11
The Bottom Line
Most of the time, shaking shouldn’t be any reason for concern. But if it happens on a regular basis, get your dog to a veterinarian, just to be sure there’s nothing serious happening with your best.