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Why Is My Dog Shaking?
Dog PhysiologyDog Health

Why Is My Dog Shaking?

It can be unsettling to notice your dog shaking like a leaf, especially when you don’t know why it’s happening. You’re not alone in being concerned and immediately running to Google to ask, “Why is my dog shaking?” 

Dogs may be shaking for many reasons; some are harmless, but others require more immediate attention. This article will explore why your dog is shaking, when to address it with your vet, and how to prevent it. 

Understanding Why Your Dog Is Shaking

There could be several reasons why your dog is shaking, from the back-and-forth rotations of their body that we know dogs do to get dry to the involuntary trembling sensation or “seizing” nature of other symptoms. 

Reasons for Dog Shaking

Dogs can shake for various reasons, and we don’t mean your dog will hold up their paw. From natural behaviors like drying off after a bath to more concerning issues such as stress, pain, or illness, it’s important to understand what is causing your dog’s shaking, which can help you create the appropriate care and support they need. 

To Dry Off

A good body shake helps them eliminate excess water; they instinctively shake off to get dry. 

Has your dog just had a bath, a dip in the pool, or spent some time in the rain? Maybe this one is obvious, but one of the most common reasons for your dog’s shaking could be as simple as trying to dry off. 

Stress and Anxiety

According to PetMD, dogs experience stress and anxiety just like people do. Is their stress due to loud noises, unfamiliar environments, separation from their humans, or other triggers? This time of trembling or quivering can indicate that your pup is anxious or stressed. 

Pain or Illness

Shaking can sometimes tell that your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort due to an injury, arthritis, or underlying health issues. 

Pay attention to any other symptoms your dog might be exhibiting, such as limping, changes in appetite, or whimpering when touched or using their muscles, and consider consulting your vet. 

Old Age

Older dogs experience trembling or shaking due to muscle weakness, joint pain, and other age-related factors. 

Though it can be a natural part of aging, it can still be distressing to experience your once-agile pet struggling to move comfortably.  


Distemper is a viral disease that affects dogs and causes symptoms like shaking, fever, coughing, and nasal discharge. Thankfully, this is something dogs can be vaccinated for! 

Staying up to date on your dog’s vaccinations is important for your dog's health or that of other dogs you may encounter! 

Ear Infections

Is your dog constantly scratching at its ears? Do they smell funky, or do their ears look different than normal? Are you noticing your dog keeps shaking their head? Your dog might have an ear infection! 

According to the American Kennel Club, signs of ear infection can include:

  • Dog shaking head

  • Scratching the affected area

  • Discharge

  • Odor

  • Pain, redness, and swelling

  • Itchiness

  • Crusting or scabs on the areas

If your dog has an ear infection, seek veterinary care for a proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Seizure Disorders

Seizures can be scary – they often cause involuntary shaking or convulsions. If your dog experiences seizures, it’s imperative to consult with your vet to determine the underlying cause and discuss treatment options.

According to medvet.com, some signs of seizures in dogs include

  • Trouble walking, balancing, or becoming unsteady

  • Chomping or biting motion

  • Collapse, fall to one side, stiffening of limbs

  • Foam or drool at the mouth

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Confused or dazed look, followed by dropping to the floor

Environmental and Psychological Triggers

Changes in the environment can also result in stress or fear. Is your dog exposed to areas where temperatures fluctuate or sounds are often louder than normal? This can trigger shaking in some dogs due to fear. 

Maybe your dog gets overly energetic when people enter your house – it can be hard for your pup to contain their excitement, and their little bodies may not know how to handle those feelings.  

Allergic Reactions and Toxins

More concerning, allergic reactions to certain foods, medications, or environmental allergens can manifest as shaking or trembling in dogs. Have there been any changes to your dog’s diet? Are you giving them new food or medication for something unrelated to the shaking?


Always be mindful of what your dog eats, especially if it’s not food-related. Our furry friends can’t speak, so they can’t tell us what’s wrong; that’s why we need to be vigilant in understanding what’s bothering our dogs. 


Now that you understand what may be causing your dog to be shaking, whether it’s pain, illness, excitement, or something else, you’ll want to know how to address and prevent these shaking episodes. 

Look for Part 2, What To Do If Your Dog Is Shaking, for treatment suggestions and prevention recommendations. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if your dog's shaking is due to the cold or something more serious?

If your dog starts shaking suddenly, take note of other possibly related symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, or limping. Your dog could be feeling unwell or have an injury. 

Why is my dog trembling and shaking?

Some of the most common causes are distemper, anxiety, old age, nausea, excitement, poisoning, fear, and epilepsy. Check with your vet if you’re concerned about your dog's health. 

Why is my dog shaking when he breathes in?

This could be due to excitement or fear, or they could simply be cold. Shivering or trembling may be a sign of something more serious, and if your dog is exhibiting other symptoms, you should consult with your vet.