Why Do Dogs Shake?

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Is your dog shaking? There can be many reasons for why it is shaking. It may have to do with medication, or emotions, or some sort of disease process. This lesson tells you about them and much more.

Let's Do the Twist

They do it after a bath. They do it after getting up off of the sofa. They even do it when they're sick. Dogs shake! Surely, you've seen this happen countless times. This lesson is going to explore some of the many reasons dogs can shake. As we do this, we're going to go over shaking from two different perspectives: one perspective involves dogs shaking something off of their body, and the other perspective examines shaking in the sense of trembling.

Shaking Something Off

One way to think of 'shaking' is as in shaking off. This may happen when you take Buddy to the lake for a swim. He may be shaking off water, sand, or dirt off his body. He may even have some water stuck in his ear so he shakes his head to get it out. Dogs shake to get something off of or out of their body.

A dog shaking off some water.
Dog shaking

Trembling and Tremors

Another way to think about shaking is when you're cold. Here, your entire body is trembling to keep you warm. Dogs do the same thing--they tremble when cold to generate body heat and keep warm. If Buddy is standing outside and barking when it's freezing and he's shaking at the same time, then he's almost certainly cold.

There are plenty of other reasons, however, for why dogs shake in this manner.

Pain is a common reason for shaking. This pain could be from arthritis or from another internal cause, like something stuck in their intestines. If Buddy pulls a muscle while running after a squirrel he might shake as well. Emotions like fear, excitement, anxiety, and others can cause a dog to shake. In these cases it's important to try and understand what's going on around them to figure out why they're shaking. For instance, if Buddy is shaking during a thunderstorm, then he's probably shaking due to fear.

Nervous or muscular system disorders may cause a dog to quiver. A stroke, a tumor affecting the brain, myasthenia gravis (a disorder that causes muscle weakness), and many others could be the cause. Some of these disorders involve any combination of various muscles, the brain, the spine, or peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves are those that are located all over the body, but not in the brain or spinal cord.

All sorts of poisons and toxins can cause a dog to shake. This includes foods contaminated with various microorganisms, such as some molds. Household products such as nicotine, various plants, chocolate, mothballs, can cause dogs to shake if they ingest them. So make sure Buddy has no access to those around the home!

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