What Does It Mean When My Dog Gets the Shakes?

Skylar Dial
Written by
Last update:

Top 8 Causes of Shivering in Dogs

Some of the most common reasons why dogs get the shakes are stress, fear, and anxiety. Many dog owners will recognize the signs of a fearful and stressed dog. In most cases, the recommended course of action is to attempt to identify what is causing the stress in the first place – and to reduce it as much as possible. But it’s also important to know how to recognize the other key causes of the shakes, so you can take the appropriate actions for your dog.

So when is your dog shivering a cause for concern? Well, if the shivering is accompanied by any changes in behavior, such as pacing, panting, or acting ultr-sensitive then you need to worry about your dog’s health. Additionally, if your dog is shivering due to pain, it means that his/her body temperature is too low.

Ultimately, it might be a sign of some underlying health issues. The key to remember is that if you see your dog shivering, you need to be alert and try to figure out the reason for shivering before it’s too late.

Less Common Causes of Shaking in Dogs

In most cases, when a dog shakes, the cause is relatively obvious ‗ a dog is a little cold, or a bit nervous, or has just worked out. Overheating may be a problem, for example, in dogs with short snouts (brachycephalic or pug-nosed breeds) and thick double-layered coats.

Medical problems such as heart and neurological conditions are less common.

Sometimes, a dog may get the shakes even though he’s not sick. As a dog ages, he may have trouble regulating his temperature. An older dog may be spending a lot of time playing outside in the heat or may sleep in a drafty room, and you might notice him shivering or shaking as a result.

What to Do When Your Dog Gets the Shakes

Dogs get the shakes for a number of reasons, but when your dog starts shaking uncontrollably, it can be really disconcerting and worrisome. In fact, the shaking (which has nothing to do with some popular misconception about needing a pill to calm down) is a symptom of an underlying condition that can be serious or benign depending on the cause.

Dogs’ bodies naturally generate heat and get sweaty, which is the reason they can tolerate cold weather so much better than humans. Typically, dogs shed their excess heat through their tongues, through breathing, and through their paws. Dogs that are very hot or have been playing hard will likely have heavy breathing and panting followed by a cooling down phase and the shaking can set in. If your dog is shivering, this is typically a sign of getting cold which means the body is working overtime to stay warm. Shivering is the last stage of this process and can also lead to a cooling down phase.

But what if your panting dog is showing a more generalized shaking motion or an involuntary shaking? Here are a couple of things to watch out for to determine if your dog’s shaking is a cause for real concern or not.