Dogs shake their fur often but they also sometimes shake, which may appear a little unconventional and makes one wonder the reason behind it. It also poses questions like - should I be scared? Is it normal? What is the dog trying to express and several other questions which will be explained in this article. Some breeds of dogs are known to have shaking and trembling symptoms. The trembling is often confined to one part of the body or, in some cases, the entire body of a dog trembles. Shaking can be linked with normal canine activities and physiological reactions, or it could be a symptom of a health condition that is potentially dangerous.

With all this complexity, how would the owner know when to address the issue? It is a safe first step to read this article as it provides an overview of what can make healthy dogs shake and all the necessary information needed for one to understand this concept in depth.


In particular instances, dogs may start shaking suddenly. They may shake or tremble when excited, scared or anxious. The trembling is nothing to worry about, as long as the conditions that trigger the nervous reaction are reasonable and transient. Although, it should be addressed if it becomes a chronic issue that greatly impacts the quality of life of the dog.

Low temperature

Low temperatures are not every dog’s cup of tea, but certain kinds of dogs feel cold worse than others. Small dogs have a bigger ratio of surface-area-to-volume. In simpler words, smaller dogs have a relatively larger amount of skin to lose heat than large dogs do. Commonly, dogs that are thin, frail or very young, ill or have short, sparse coats are often highly cold-sensitive.


Pain or distress can also be one of the common reasons for them to tremble. Trauma, inflammation, or infection may induce the distress dogs experience. Dogs mostly refrain from expressing their pain as they can tolerate it. The only noticeable symptom may be the tremors of the body.


Tremors are involuntary, rhythmic and recurrent muscle movements that switch between contraction and relaxation, often including twitching in one or more parts of the body. Involuntary tremors concerning any part of the body can be observed mostly in the affected dog. The shaking can be widespread or restricted to a single region of the body. A handful of dogs develop generalized tremor syndrome (GTS), known as white shaker dog syndrome, as initially seen in small white dogs such as the Maltese. Several breeds are predisposed to tremors and are known as shaker puppies,including Chow Chows, Dalmatians, Doberman, Pinschers, English Bulldogs, Labrador Retrievers, Samoyeds, Springer Spaniels, and Weimaraners.

Several other factors can induce tremors, usually accompanied by other health conditions. The health conditions that may cause tremors are

  • Trauma or injury
  • Head tremors
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart diseases
  • Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)
  • Immune diseases
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Exposure to medication or toxins
  • Inflammation
  • Nervous system diseases
  • Lesions of the spinal cord
  • Canine Distemper
  • Seizure disorders
  • Addison’s disease
  • Full anal sacs

Natural shivering and trembling are somewhat different from epilepsy, during which the muscles seize resulting in the loss of mobility and awareness of the surroundings. Unfortunately, it is often tough to distinguish tremor from epilepsy, as these require irregular muscle contractions. Shivers are involuntary muscle movements that occur when the dog is awake. The dog is aware of its surroundings and does not lose consciousness. If you think your dog is having a seizure, you should consult a vet as soon as possible.


Try to identify the significant source of trembling. Did your dog eat something before the shaking? Was the trembling caused by a disruptive noise outside of your house? Have you recently given meds to your dog? Try to analyze the situation, if possible, before contacting the veterinarian. When your puppy or adult dog is shaking, one should make sure its kept warm and not cold to touch. If your adult dog displays shaking along with other physical symptoms, such as lethargy, vomiting, discharge from the eyes or nose, or leaked urine, it should be taken to a vet.

When a source of tremor is detected, it needs treatment to reduce pain. For example, if certain medications are causing it, the vet will recommend alternative medications or change the dosage.


Dogs begin to tremble, even when it's not freezing outside. This is particularly common in small dogs like Chihuahuas. Although shivering can be just a natural part of life for certain dogs, it can also be a warning sign that something is wrong. Consuming a lot of various toxins can make your dog shake or experience seizures. It is highly advisable to show your dog to the vet urgently if your dog has begun to tremble after swallowing something. Shivering and sweating may be signs of something serious—such as poisoning, kidney failure, or injury.

So, if your dog unexpectedly begins to shake or tremble, it's important to be mindful of other symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, or limping. Though most causes of shivering in dogs are relatively harmless, it is better to reach out to the vet if you wonder why your dog is shaking. They will clarify what causes a dog to shiver and uncover if something serious is going on.