Why Is My Dog Shaking?

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
D Snyder/Shutterstock

Shaking and shivering in dogs is something that most owners notice at least once in their dog’s lifetime. It can seem like a random thing, and in most cases, people dismiss it as a simple “side effect” of colder temperatures. However, chilly weather isn’t always the culprit for dog trembling – sometimes there are other reasons for this, ranging from expressing emotions to signaling health issues. So how are you to know what exactly is causing your dog to shake – is there a way to discern between harmless causes and those that could mean it’s time to visit a vet? Here’s everything you need to know about possible reasons for shaking in dogs and how to react when your dog starts shivering and trembling out of nowhere.

Why Is My Dog Shaking?

Dog behavior is a vast topic – so is their body language. If you were hoping that when a dog shakes, it means one particular thing, you’ll be disappointed. Dog shaking can communicate a range of different things and there are various possible explanations for this behavior – here are just a few of the most common ones.

#1 Your Dog is Cold

As we said, cold and low temperatures can cause shivering and shaking. Just like humans, dogs may shiver when cold. If they're exposed to chilly temperatures, they might shiver to generate heat. This is a natural response. Of course, if you live in an area with a colder climate and your pet doesn’t have a thick double coat, you should get them a warm winter coat that will keep them insulated and prevent loss of body heat.

This  fleece-lined jacket with a hoodie will definitely keep any cold-sensitive pooch snug as a bug when the temperatures drop! 

#2 Your Dog is Scared or Anxious

Fear is a very strong emotion. Some more sensitive, dogs can be scared of many things ranging from hearing fireworks to visiting the vet’s office – and they may shake when they're scared or anxious. Loud noises, unfamiliar surroundings, or situations that make them uncomfortable can trigger this response. If that’s the case, work on trying to  desensitize them from loud sounds or get them a pair of  noise-canceling ear muffs for dogs for an instant solution. 

#3 Your Dog Might Be In Pain

In some cases, dogs will shake due to discomfort, or when they are feeling pain. This can also be caused by some illnesses, and dogs will display their pain with shivering. This is why you should take your pet to a vet in case the shaking is prolonged or chronic or accompanied by whimpering or other unusual symptoms. 


#4 It Could Signal Excitement and Happiness

In stark contrast, dogs could shiver and tremble when they are super happy or excited about something. Perhaps they saw you coming in from work, or they are anticipating a long-needed walk or simply seeing their favorite toy – all of this can make them tremble with joy. 

#5 Old Age Can Cause Shaking

Senior doggos can often have tremors and tremble due to their old age. This is similar to humans, and isn’t something that can be remedied – or cause excess worry. 

#6 Check For Signs of Neurological Issues

Some dogs can also have neurological issues, which can cause involuntary shaking. This is especially common with conditions such as epilepsy or tremors. In these cases veterinary diagnosis and management are important. 

#7 Rule Out Poisoning

In some extreme cases, the cause of shaking can be poison. If your dog has ingested something toxic, shaking can be one of the initial symptoms. Common toxins include certain plants, chemicals, medications, and foods like chocolate, xylitol, or grapes/raisins.

It's essential to consider the context in which your dog is shaking and observe any accompanying symptoms or changes in behavior. If you're ever unsure about the cause of your dog's shaking or if it's concerning you, consulting with your veterinarian is always the best course of action for proper evaluation and treatment. Sometimes it can be as simple as feeling cold, but for some dogs, it can be a very complex cause behind their seemingly benign shaking. 

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

More by Angela Vuckovic