It’s certainly a cause for concern when you see your dog shaking and trembling, but it can be difficult to identify the cause. Here are the more common reasons a dog may shake.

•    Cold. That seems very basic, but dogs do shiver and shake when it is cold, particularly if they have a short coat.

•    Pain. If your dog is hurting, he may tremble and hold his body tense. Has he over-exercised and perhaps injured a leg? Is he reluctant to jump or climb stairs which may indicate he has a sore back?  Even a tummy ache can be enough to cause your dog to shake. If he is in pain, he’ll also be reluctant to move.

•    Anxiety. Some dogs are more nervous than others and if they feel anxious or afraid, they will shake.  Nervous dogs will also try to escape scary situations and often try to hide behind their owners.  

•    Internal organ disease. Now we’re getting into the more serious reasons your dog may shake.  Some medical conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes can cause trembling in dogs, particularly of the legs. Disease or injury to the brain and spinal cord also lead to weakness and trembling. Dogs that have been poisoned often start out with trembling which may progress to full blown seizures.

How do you get to the bottom of your dog’s problem? Some causes of trembling are easy to identify.

If you are feeling cold, it’s possible that your dog is also a bit chilly. This is easily remedied. Dog coats aren’t expensive and will keep your dog warm. Bring him inside where it is warmer. Make sure his crate or sleeping area is sheltered from the wind, give him some blankets to snuggle into, and keep his bed off the ground.

You should be familiar with your dog’s personality and be able to recognize if he often feels stressed and anxious. In this case, he isn’t likely to show any other symptoms of illness, and will be otherwise quite well. Anxiety disorders can be treated with a combination of medication and training, and that will make life more pleasant for your dog.

It can be difficult to tell if he is in pain. You will notice if he’s limping, or is walking stiffly, but dogs can be very stoic and he may appear to feel fine. However, you may notice some subtle changes in his behavior such as reluctance to move and less of an interest in his dinner. There are many safe and effective treatment options for pain in dogs, so do make an appointment with your vet for treatment.

Serious diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes and brain disease are often accompanied by other symptoms that are hard to miss. Increased thirst, vomiting and depression are commonly seen with these conditions.  This is when you need to take him to your vet as soon as you notice that he’s not well. An early diagnosis will often lead to a better response to treatment.

If you are in any doubt as to why your dog is trembling, or the shaking is lasting longer than you would expect if he was just cold or stressed, make an appointment with your vet. The peace of mind will be worth it.


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