Why Do Dogs Shake

Why Do Dogs Shake

You’ve probably seen your dog shaking and wondered what could be causing this behavior. It’s a common sight, especially after a bath or during a thunderstorm, but the reasons behind this canine quirk can vary widely. Understanding why your dog shakes is key to ensuring their health and well-being, as some causes may require veterinary attention.

However, not all shaking in dogs is cause for alarm. Sometimes it’s just an expression of excitement or anticipation – like when you’re about to take them for a walk or they see their favorite treat! But at times, it could be an indication of underlying physical discomfort or medical conditions that need to be addressed promptly. In older dogs, shaking can also be symptomatic of cognitive dysfunction associated with aging.

This article aims to provide insights into the various reasons why dogs shake, helping you become more attuned to your canine companion’s needs and responses.

Stress or Fear Responses

When they’re feeling stressed or scared, dogs often shake as a way to cope with their overwhelming emotions. Emotional triggers can range from loud noises, like thunderstorms and fireworks, to more subtle cues such as unfamiliar environments or people. This shaking is similar to the involuntary trembling that humans may experience during times of extreme stress or fear.

It’s one of many anxiety symptoms that your dog may display when encountering situations that make them uncomfortable. Understanding your dog’s behavior is crucial in helping them manage their stress levels effectively. You should observe for other signs of anxiety alongside shaking, such as excessive barking, pacing, or destructive behavior.

If these symptoms persist even in a calm environment, it might indicate a more serious underlying issue like chronic anxiety disorder. In such cases, it’s advisable to seek professional help from a vet or an animal behaviorist who can provide appropriate interventions and treatments for your furry friend’s well-being.

Excitement or Anticipation

Feeling a rush of excitement or anticipation, your furry friend might start quivering in sheer joy. This is another common reason why dogs shake. It’s one of their many playful behaviors that they exhibit when they’re excited about something, like going for a walk, meeting new people or animals, or seeing their favorite toy.

You’ll often notice this shaking when you’re getting ready to go on an adventure with them, whether it’s a trip to the dog park or just around the block.

Now imagine this scenario: You’ve been out all day and finally get home to be greeted by your eager pet who has missed you dearly. The moment they see you, their tail starts wagging furiously and their body begins shaking in happy encounters.

Dogs don’t have the same range of verbal communication that we do, so these physical displays are ways for them to express intense emotions such as happiness and anticipation. While it can seem strange if you’re not used to it, rest assured that this is typically a positive sign indicating your pup is thrilled about what’s happening!

Physical Discomfort

Physical discomfort can also cause your furry friend to shiver or tremble, reflecting their distress. A variety of physical conditions could be responsible for this behavior, from minor annoyances like grooming irritations to more serious problems such as allergic reactions. It’s important to remember that dogs have a limited way of communicating their discomfort, and shaking is one way they tell you something isn’t right.

1) Grooming Irritations: Sometimes the source of your pet’s discomfort may be as simple as a knot in their fur or an irritation caused by grooming products. Dogs with long hair are especially prone to matting and knots which can cause them significant discomfort and lead to shaking.

2) Allergic Reactions: Much like humans, dogs can also suffer from allergies which often manifest through skin irritations. If your dog is allergic to certain substances found in food, plants, or even household chemicals, they might start shaking due to the resulting itchiness and discomfort.

3) Underlying Health Issues: Shaking might also indicate more serious health issues such as dental problems, arthritis, or other types of pain-related conditions. It’s crucial that if your dog continues to shake despite ruling out minor causes such as grooming irritations or allergens, you should consult with a veterinarian immediately.

In all these situations, it’s essential that you pay close attention to any additional symptoms accompanying the shaking so you can provide accurate information when consulting with professionals about your pet’s well-being.

Medical Conditions

Believe it or not, your furry friend’s tremors could be a symptom of underlying medical conditions.

For instance, parasitic infections can cause dogs to shake as they disrupt their body’s normal functioning. Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and worms can cause discomfort and lead to shaking either due to the physical irritation they cause or as part of your dog’s immune response. It’s essential always to ensure that your pet is up-to-date with its preventative treatments.

Additionally, neurological disorders are another common reason why dogs may exhibit shaking behavior. Conditions like Canine Distemper or General Tremor Syndrome (GTS) primarily affect the nervous system and can result in uncontrollable shakes or tremors in dogs.

If you notice persistent shaking in your dog, especially if accompanied by other symptoms like difficulty walking, loss of appetite, or changes in behavior, it might be time to pay a visit to the vet for professional advice and treatment options. Remember that early detection often leads to better outcomes for potentially serious medical conditions.

Aging and Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Just like humans, your furry friend can also experience the inevitable effects of aging, which sometimes manifest as tremors or shakes. Aging in dogs is often associated with a condition known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. This degenerative disease can lead to various behavioral changes in senior dogs, including uncontrolled shaking or trembling. It’s crucial for you to monitor these signs closely because early detection of CCD can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life.

One way to keep track of these changes is by observing and documenting any alterations in your dog’s behavior. Pay attention to ‘Dementia Signs’ such as disorientation, memory loss, reduced physical activity, or unusual aggression. Here’s a simple table that outlines some significant changes you should look out for:

Normal Senior Canine Behavior Potential Dementia Signs Action
Regular sleep patterns Disturbed sleep or restlessness at night Consult a vet if the pattern persists
Stable appetite Change in eating habits or loss of appetite Monitor eating habits closely; consult a vet if necessary
Enjoying familiar activities Loss of interest in favorite games or walks Try engaging them more; seek professional help if behavior continues

Remember, shaking due to old age isn’t always indicative of serious health issues like CCD. However, it’s essential that you take note and act promptly when these signs appear repeatedly over time. Your goal should be ensuring comfort and happiness for your pet during their golden years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do certain breeds of dogs shake more than others?

Yes, some breeds are more sensitive to shake triggers than others. Factors such as breed temperament and sensitivity can cause certain dogs to shake more frequently or intensely in response to various stimuli.

What are the differences between a dog’s normal shake and a shake due to illness?

Normal dog shakes are usually brief and can be triggered by excitement, wet fur, or discomfort. However, if shaking is prolonged, accompanied by other symptoms, it might indicate illness. Look for these illness indicators to discern.

Is it normal for puppies to shake more than adult dogs?

Yes, it’s normal for your little bundle of joy to experience puppy tremors more than adult dogs. Various shivering triggers such as excitement or cold can cause this. However, constant shaking could indicate health issues.

How can I help my dog feel more secure and shake less?

Implement anxiety reduction techniques like providing a safe, calm environment. Use fear conditioning training to help your dog cope with stressful situations. Regular exercise and routine can also make your pet feel more secure.

Can a dog’s diet influence how much they shake?

Yes, a dog’s diet can greatly influence their shaking. Food allergies may cause uncomfortable reactions, while nutrient deficiency might lead to weakness and trembling. Adjusting their meals could potentially reduce this behavior.


Understanding why your dog shakes can help you ensure they’re comfortable and healthy. Whether it’s due to excitement, stress, discomfort, or age-related issues, a keen eye on their behavior proves invaluable.

You’ve now unlocked the ‘canine code’ – interpreting those subtle signs that speak volumes about your furry friend’s condition. Remember, knowledge is power, and in this case, it could be the key to providing the best care possible for your canine companion.