Why Do Dogs Shiver, Shake and Tremble?

By February 02 | See Comments

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All dog owners have seen their pooch shake off water after a walk in the rain or a bath. But what about instances of shaking, shivering or trembling when your dog is not wet? A shake, tremble, or shiver can mean many things – some bad and some good. Let us break it down

Positive or happy shivers and shakes
  • Drying off – Your dog tends to shake off excess water after getting wet. It is a reflex action that prevents hypothermia. Over time, dogs and other furry animals have perfected their abilities to such an extent that they can shake off almost 70 percent of the water.
  • Excitement – A lot of pet owners have observed their dog shiver or tremble while playing fetch or offering affection. It is a completely healthy sign and it is just their way of lowering excess energy.
  • Intelligence – A lot of pet owners offer affection and love when their dog is shivering or shaking. Some of the dogs take this as their cue and start to tremble or shiver whenever they want your attention.
Trembling and shivering to watch out for
  • Cold – Dogs tend to shake when the temperature drops for the same reason that humans do – they're cold. While this is not a situation to cause much worry, it will turn into a problem if your pup is out in freezing conditions for an extended period of time.
  • Pain or sickness – Dogs often shiver or shake if they are suffering from a sickness or in pain – just like we do when we have a fever or cold. Illnesses associated with trembling include kidney disease, distemper, Addison's disease, generalized tremor syndrome, nausea, seizures, poisoning, and inflammatory brain diseases. Contact the vet if you think your dog is in pain or is sick.
  • Stress – Dogs tend to stress out and become anxious too. There are many reasons that could lead to this: beeping alarms, car rides, trips to the doctor, fireworks and so on. Worse yet, your dog can develop different stressors over a period based on negative experiences. When they are faced with the stressors, they tend to shake or tremble, and some dogs even engage in misbehavior, like chewing on furniture.
  • Old age – As your dog grows older, you will notice that he/she tends to develop tremors in his legs. While age-induced tremors are normal up to a certain point, do not ever make the mistake of assuming that things are proceeding normally. Shaking can also be a sign of joint pain and discomfort. Talk to the vet and see if there are any therapies or treatments to alleviate the deterioration or pain that your dog is going through. Make sure to adjust their exercise routines according to their age.
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