My dog is trembling: what does it mean?

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There can be numerous reasons why your dog is shaking or shivering. Shaking in dogs is not uncommon and can have many reasons, such as when they are excited or trying to dry their fur. You often need to look at the context to find out exactly why your dog is shaking: it doesn't always have to mean your dog is sick. Certain breeds have it in their genes, but it can also be related to age or that he feels unsafe. So if your dog is shaking, you should first stay calm, and observe him and the situation carefully.

We want to help you find out when trembling in dogs is harmless and when you should rather consult a veterinarian.

When the dog trembles: Causes

When do dogs tremble? Here we have compiled the 11 most important causes for you, for which reasons dogs tremble:

Shaking off excess water:

If your dog has just been swimming or got wet on a walk, he will shake to get rid of the excess water. In this case, shaking is perfectly normal and even good for your dog, as it can help prevent hypothermia.

Just by shaking, dogs can remove up to 70 percent of the water from their fur - so you can easily get soaked if you're in his splash zone!


Some dog breeds have thin coats, and small dogs in particular freeze more quickly. Just as we shiver, so does your dog when he's cold. In such cases, a dog coat or other dog clothing will certainly help protect him from uncomfortable weather. However, if it has been cold outside and your dog has been shivering for a long period of time, you'd better take him to the vet, because in this case, his shivering could also be a sign of hypothermia.

Stress or anxiety:

Dogs can also tremble due to stress or fear, which is often seen at the vet's office or during fireworks. Dog tremors may also be accompanied by signs such as whining, whimpering, growling, or panting, and they may lay their ears back and hide. If your dog often seems anxious, you should watch for possible triggers that might be scaring him. You can either try to avoid such triggers or seek the help of a dog behavior therapist.

Excitement and emotions:

Other possible reasons why a dog trembles all the time are excitement or anticipation. Your dog may shake when he's playing with you or when you've just come home and he's excited to see you. Or, if you're about to take him for a walk. When dogs shake with excitement, it helps them release their excess energy and keep themselves more under control. This is most common in younger dogs, as they tend to have weaker impulse control. It's a good idea educationally to give your dog less attention until he calms down, then reward him with a quiet petting session.

Advanced age:

Sometimes a dog's shaking is due to his age. When an old dog trembles, it's not unusual and an occasional twitch or shake is quite normal - much like old people just do. But sometimes excessive shaking can also be a sign of pain, especially joint pain. If you're not sure, it's best to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Muscle weakness:

Your dog's hind legs are shaking? Muscle weakness can also be a cause of tremors. It is usually manifested mainly by trembling of the legs - especially the hind legs. Usually, the trembling subsides once your dog has had a chance to rest. However, if you think that your dog is suffering from it, it is better to take him to your veterinarian. He can prescribe exercises to strengthen the muscles or treatments such as massage or hydrotherapy.

Muscle tremors due to exertion:

Your dog is shaking all over? Many dog breeds like to be active and really work out. So it can happen that your dog trembles all over his body after prolonged, intense exercise, and his muscles need to recover after the exertion.

Breed-related trembling

Shaking is very common in Chihuahuas, for example. They are one of the breeds that tremble the most. Due to their small body size, they feel the cold more and freeze more easily.

In addition, Chihuahuas have a fast metabolism and are true bundles of energy: from that, they burn energy faster and also lose heat much faster. Terriers also tremble very often, because as hunting dogs they are constantly under power. In addition, there is the so-called "white dog shaker syndrome" - a hereditary disease that mainly affects white dogs. According to a 2013 study by the University of Sydney, lighter dog breeds are more excitable and hyperactive, and therefore more prone to shaking with excitement. They are also more susceptible to factors that cause the shaking, such as attachment issues, anxiety, or fear.


For example, eating foods that are toxic to dogs or due to medications. If you suspect these as triggers for your dog's tremors, you should present him to the vet immediately.


Canine distemper, gastric torsion (occurs especially in large dog breeds), or seizures can also be reasons why your dog is shaking. If there are other symptoms of illness along with trembling (faintness, vomiting, limping, whining, yelping, and loss of appetite) you should have him examined by a veterinarian. By the way, seizures differ from tremors in that your dog is still responsive during tremors and can maintain eye contact with you. This is no longer the case with seizures and epileptic seizures. Other causes of disease-related tremors in dogs can include kidney failure, heart strokes, strokes, and other brain diseases.

Dog trembles in sleep:

Your dog shakes in his sleep? Don't worry, most of his peers do too. Dogs also process the experiences of the day in their dreams, which can be very vivid and are also accompanied by the corresponding muscle movements. Don't worry: if your dog trembles in his sleep, it usually just means that he is really relaxed.

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