Why Do Dogs Shake, Shiver, And Tremble?

german shepherd laying down

So, your furry friend is trembling and you’re here asking yourself, “Why is my dog shaking?” Truth be told, if you see your puppy or dog shaking, shivering or trembling, there could be so many different reasons that are causing this, which we will be talking about in just a minute.

Shaking in canines can be a completely normal issue or a sign of a very serious illness, and this article will be informing you about how you can differentiate between the two situations.

However, before we go on with this article, we must go over one very important point, and that is the difference between shaking/trembling/shivering and seizures, because many people tend to mistake one for the other.

If you see your dog shivering, they can still maintain eye contact with you and respond to your commands.

However, if your pet is having a seizure, they will lose control over their whole body, will not be able to maintain eye contact with you or respond to your commands and will shake violently.

Many things may cause an animal to shiver or tremble. It could be from joy that you’re home, or it could be from eating toxic foods [1].

What are the most common reasons a canine shivers or shakes? Is treatment necessary? And when should you talk to your vet?

What Causes Dogs To Shake?

Here’s a list that goes through some of the most common causes of shaking in canines:

– Normal Movement: Your pet can shake for completely normal purposes, such as drying themselves off or get up and alert after a small bout of sleep.

– Feeling Cold: It’s only normal that your pup starts shaking and shivering if they feel cold, just like we do.

cold dog in snow

It’s a normal movement where their body is trying to generate heat by shivering to make up for the decrease in temperature.

– Fever: In situations where your canine is suffering from a fever, their body starts shivering in an attempt to raise the body temperature.

Your dog has a serious fever if their body temperature reaches anywhere from 103 to 106 degrees, in which case it would be best that you have your veterinarian properly treat them.

– Feeling Hungry

– Excitement: When your pet is excited, their body released adrenaline to help them deal with whatever is causing the excitement, and this release of adrenaline often leads to trembling.

– Happiness

– Anxiety/Fear: Any situation that instills fear or anxiety in them will most often lead to trembling.

Anything from hearing sudden loud noises such as fireworks, preparing for a needle injection, moving homes and adapting to a new environment or many other events, all of these make your dog anxious and lead to trembling.

– Stress: A stressed animal which is agitated with almost always start trembling, however they return to normal after the reason for stress/agitation is gone.

– Low Blood Sugar Levels

– Low Blood Calcium Levels

– Pre-Seizure: Often times and just before they are about to have a seizure, they start shaking

– Old Age And Pain: The older your pet gets, the higher the chances of them developing tremors in their legs become.

white old dog

And, not only do these tremors cause their legs to shake uncontrollably when standing, but they also cause pain, which can worsen the shaking situation.

– Nausea: For many, many reasons, dogs can get nauseous just like we humans sometimes do, and shaking is one of the signs that become apparent in them if they’re feeling nauseous.

– Poisoning: If your canine ingests something poisonous or toxic to them, that can lead to tremors and shaking.

– Kidney Disease And Kidney Failure: If your pet suffers from kidney disease [2] or kidney failure, you may notice that they start shaking all of a sudden and the disease takes more toll on your dog’s body with time.

– Brain Disease

– Addison’s Disease [3]: This disease leads to insufficient amounts of cortisol in their body and is a major culprit in making your furry friend tremble uncontrollably.

– Injury

– Distemper: Most often, this disease that is often accompanied by fever, coughing and nasal discharges occurs in younger puppies and older canines that haven’t been properly vaccinated.

If you notice your dog is suffering from distemper, you have to immediately get them to the vet.

– Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS): Also known as White Dog Shaker Syndrome [4], This disease is quite a tough one, since it’s not yet clearly known what triggers and leads to it happening.small dog at vet

You can notice GTS symptoms if they are anywhere between 9 months and 2 years of age.

– Behavior Problems: A dog can learn to shiver for no reason because it often gets them a reward, which is bad behavioral training on the part of the pet owner.

Sometimes, animals shiver for no reason and are overwhelmed with love and care.

Do this one too many times, and you teach your pet that whenever they shake and shiver, even it it’s for no reason, they’ll have your utmost attention and care. Refer to this article about dog training to see how you can solve this behavioral issue.

What Should I Do If My Dog Is Shaking?

So, if your dog starts to shake, tremble or shiver out of the blue, what should you do exactly?

Ideally, you immediately contact your veterinarian and let them know about the ongoing issue when you see your canine shaking as well as these symptoms:

  • Shaking for no specific reason
  • Has severe tremors
  • Is also vomiting
  • Also has diarrhea
  • Collapses
  • Is lethargic and weak
  • Is not eating like they used to
  • Is showing signs of depression like always wanting to be secluded
    • Watch this video to learn more about signs of depression in your pet and how to help:

  • Is coughing and gagging

You should also jot down and notify your veterinarian about other important details about your dog they should know about, such as:

  • If they also have diarrhea
  • If they are also vomiting
  • Whether or not they are also showing signs of physical pain/injuries (such as limping)
  • Their appetite
  • Their thirst levels and bladder
  • Their bowel movement

These details and anything else that you can notify your veterinarian about will definitely make the process of pin-pointing why exactly your dog is shaking much easier.

From there on, your veterinarian will specify and conduct the necessary tests to determine what exactly seems to be the problem with your canine, and will specify the required course of treatment.


1. Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/ss/slideshow-foods-your-dog-should-never-eat

2. Chronic Kidney Disease http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/chronic-kidney-disease-what-does-kidney-failure-dogs-really

3. Addison’s Disease https://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/Pet-Health-Topics/categories/diseases/addison’s-disease

4. What is White Shaker Syndrome? https://www.canidae.com/blog/2014/01/what-is-white-shaker-syndrome/


  1. Thanks for explaining when shivering in a dog is not a big deal and when you should call the vet. My husband and I adopted a greyhound not too long ago, and we notice he shivers quite frequently. I’ll monitor his food and water to make sure nothing has changed. If he is eating/drinking less or starts coughing, I will know to call a vet.

  2. Do not take it too lightly. I would have him xrayed, br sure there are no tumors.
    Eating and drinking normally are not always signs things are ok.
    Speaking from experience.


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