Dog Shivering: What it Means and What You Should Do

Do you have a dog who shivers a lot? Did the shivering just start, or has it been going on throughout most of your dog’s life? What does this mean, and is there anything you can do to help your pet? It’s important to know what dog shivering means and what can cause it so that way you know when you need to take your pet to see a veterinarian.

dog shivering

Shivering and trembling are common behaviors in some dogs, but in others, they can signify a very serious health problem. In the article below, we’ll go over some of the most common causes of shivering in dogs and help you understand what you should do if you notice your dog shivering, too.

Read on to find out more about shivering in dogs.

6 Common Reasons for Dog Shivering

When you know the cause of your dog’s shivering, then you’ll be able to identify when veterinary care is needed. However, if you can confirm what the cause of this behavior is on your own, you should take your pet to see their vet. In the case when treatment is needed, your vet will be able to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong.

6 reasons for dog shivering include, but aren’t limited to:

1. Excitement

One of the most common causes of shaking in dogs is simple excitement. Some dogs become so excited that they can’t control their bodies entirely, which leads to shivering and shaking. Although this behavior is more common in small dogs, it can be seen in bigger dogs as well.

If your dog’s shivering seems to happen most often when you get home from work or when they’re about to be fed, it’s very likely that they’re just shivering from excitement.

This type of shivering is nothing to worry about, and it may just be part of your dog’s personality!

2. Fear

Some dogs may become so frightened or anxious that they tremble as a physical response to their fear. Once again, this type of dog shivering is more commonly seen in small dogs, but it can affect large dogs too, depending on the dog’s ability to cope with anxiety.

If your dog is frequently suffering from such serious fear and anxiety that they shake and tremble, you should speak to your vet about potentially putting them on anti-anxiety medication. If your dog only shakes in rare instances, such as when they hears firework, you may be able to manage the problem on your own.

3. Generalized Tremor Syndrome

Generalized Tremor Syndrome is the condition that is responsible for little dogs shaking seemingly for no reason. There is no known cause of this syndrome, but smaller dogs are much more prone to it than larger breeds. It often begins early in a dog’s life and will remain with the dog as they age, too.

If your dog’s tremors are uncommon, you may not need to worry much about this syndrome. However, if their tremors get in the way of their everyday life, you can talk to your vet about steroids to treat the problem.

4. Poisoning

One of the most serious potential causes of dog shivering is poisoning. If your dog has ingested something toxic or has been bitten or stung by a venomous snake or insect, they may shiver and tremble from the poisoning.

If you suspect your dog has been poisoned in some way, don’t wait. Take them to the emergency vet immediately. Some types of poisoning may be able to be treated at home, but most require professional medical attention and a prompt response to help your dog recover fully.

5. Pain

Dogs who are in pain may shiver and tremble, just like some humans do when they are in pain. If your dog has recently been injured, you may notice some shivering as a result of the pain they’re feeling.

One common cause of shivering in older dogs is related to arthritis. Dogs who have mobility issues and pain when trying to walk, jump, or lay down may shiver more frequently than those who do not. If your dog is older, and especially if their shivering seems to be specific to certain parts of their body (like their hips or legs), take them to the vet to have them checked out for arthritis.

6. Seizure

Finally, in some situations, dogs may experience seizures that cause them to shiver and tremble as well. This type of dog shivering may not look like a full-blown seizure and may not always cause the dog to fall down or paddle their legs, but is still a seizure and should be treated as such.

If you know your dog has epilepsy and you see them shivering without being able to pay attention to anything, you can assume they are having a small seizure. If you are unsure but think your dog may be having a seizure for the first time, take them to the emergency vet.

Don’t Wait to Seek Veterinary Care for Concerns About Dog Shivering

As you can see, dog shivering isn’t always a cause for concern. It’s important to consider your individual dog to determine whether or not their shivering requires a vet visit. If they are a little dog who has always trembled, for example, you probably don’t have to worry too much about this behavior.

If you have any further questions about your pet’s health or wellness, talk to your vet. Your vet can give you specific information about your dog and can help you get to the bottom of any concerning behaviors or symptoms before they get out of hand.

Do you still have questions or concerns about dog shivering? If so, book an appointment at one of our Heart + Paw locations. Our veterinarians will give your pet a full exam to help find any potential underlying health causes and will be able to guide you in the best direction on making sure your pet stays as healthy and happy as possible.

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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