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Dog Behavior Series 7 – Why Do Dogs Shake?
Want to know the secret to getting your dog to stop shaking? Keep reading to discover the top 4 common reasons and what you can do for your dog by understanding your dog’s behavior.
Let’s start by explaining the term ‘Shake’, and what I mean when I use it. I’m referring to dogs that tremble or tremble while controlling their body. If your dog makes eye contact and responds to you because he is shaking, then your dog has full control of his body; unlike dogs that lose control during a seizure.
So, why do dogs shiver?
Your dog could be shaking for common reasons that are easy to fix, or your dog’s shaking could indicate that something is medically wrong. I will discuss those potential medical issues later in this segment. Knowing why your dog is shaking allows you to make an informed decision about his well-being with a little more confidence. Now, here are the top four common reasons why dogs shake, and what you can do for your dog to help and comfort him during those difficult times.
- One – Your Dog is Cold
Not unusual, especially for short coat breeds. When a dog is cold, its body shivers to generate heat through muscle movement. It’s easy to provide your dog with a little warmth to stop his shaking. Get your dog into a warm environment and/or give him a warm bed and blanket.
- Two – Your Dog is Anxious or Frightened
Adrenaline release often produces shaking. A dog’s adrenal glands release adrenaline to help them deal with the situation. Thunderstorms, fireworks, air travel, car rides, vet visits, nursing rooms, meeting strangers, loud noises; any type of environmental change can cause a dog anxiety or fear. Hold your dog close and reassure him, with love and attention, that there is nothing to be afraid of. He will feel safe and loved and before long his shaking will stop.
- Three – Your Dog is Excited
Your dog is excited about dinner, chasing a squirrel, seeing you after a long day alone, eager to play; for whatever reason, your dog is shaking before something happens. Nothing to worry about here; your dog will stop shaking when the excitement is over.
- Four – Learned Behavior
Your dog has learned that if he shakes, he will get a desired response from you, whether that response is a sign of love and attention or a tasty treat. To stop this dog, ignore the shaking, and instead, reward your dog with love and attention when he is not shaking. Spread your attention, affection and treats throughout the day and evening so your dog learns that he doesn’t have to shake to get what he wants.
Now it’s time to talk about other reasons why dogs tremble.
If your dog shakes uncontrollably, determine when the shaking first occurred, any symptoms the dog has, and what parts of the body are affected. All of these are clues to help you recognize a potentially serious health problem. For example, some dogs will shake if their blood sugar is dangerously low or just before having a seizure. In this segment, some of the reasons why dogs shake are alarming, but will help you determine the difference between healthy dog behavior and signs of serious illness, and what to do if you suspect a medical condition.
- One – Poisoning
A dog that has consumed chocolate, poisonous plants, cigarettes, pesticides, contaminated food and other harmful materials in high doses may suffer from vomiting, diarrhea and uncontrollable shaking. If you suspect poisoning, take your dog to an emergency hospital immediately.
- Two – Distemper
Distemper is a virus that is often seen in puppies before they reach adulthood and dogs that have not been vaccinated. Symptoms are fever, cough and nasal discharge; and can also cause shaking and seizures. Puppies that have not been fully vaccinated are at greater risk of getting the virus. See your veterinarian immediately if you notice symptoms or suspect that your dog has been exposed to distemper.
- Three – Kidney Disease
Dogs can be symptom free for a very long time. If your dog suddenly starts drinking and urinating more often, there is cause for concern. Other signs, including shaking, might follow as your dog’s condition progresses. See your vet right away for therapy and treatment options.
- Four – Addison’s Disease
Dogs with this disease will show signs of gastrointestinal problems, loss of energy and strength, and little or no appetite; along with shaking. Addison’s is often misdiagnosed, which can lead to more severe problems. If your dog seems chronically ill and malnourished, talk to your vet about possible causes.
- Five – White Dog Shaker Syndrome
It is a serious disease in small breeds, such as Maltese and West Highland White Terriers, that can make your dog shake and causes full-body tremors in young dogs. Dog behaviors related to anxiety are discarded, as this Syndrome is not a reaction to specific stressors. If you suspect that your dog is shaking due to this syndrome, consult your veterinarian immediately.
- Six – Fever
If your dog seems to shiver from the cold while in a warm environment, then your dog may have a fever. Your dog is shivering trying to raise his body temperature. Take your dog’s temperature with a direct thermometer, if possible. If his temperature is above 104 degrees, then take your dog to the vet immediately. A temperature above 104 degrees is a medical emergency.
- Seven – Pain
Trembling can be a sign of pain. Signs that your dog is in pain are restlessness, changes in behavior, dilated pupils, excessive sleeping, hiding, limping, excessive licking or biting, increased vocalization, needing attention, poor coat, vacant stare, glazed expression and decreased appetite. Signs of pain are difficult to detect in dogs and vary depending on the cause of the pain. Since most dogs are very good at hiding pain, your dog is usually in considerable pain when you notice a problem. If your dog is shaking and showing any of the signs discussed, take your dog to a vet.
- Eight – Advanced Age
Unfortunately, elderly dogs are more vulnerable to shaking and deterioration. Weakened muscles coupled with a touch of arthritis make it painful for older dogs to stand and walk. These symptoms cannot be reversed, but you can consult your veterinarian to discuss available therapies and treatment that will help reduce your dog’s discomfort and pain.
Now let’s summarize.
Dogs shiver for many reasons. Recognizing why your dog is shaking is important, especially if there is a health problem. The sooner an illness or disease is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated.
When dogs are fearful, anxious or excited, their adrenal glands release adrenaline to prepare their bodies to escape from or deal with the situation causing the excitement. If your dog continues to shiver in a warm environment, he may have a fever or another health problem unrelated to the cold. If you are not 100 percent sure, have your dog medically cleared by your veterinarian before assuming that the shaking is normal dog behavior.
If your dog is shaking and it is not obvious why, then take him to a vet. If your dog’s shaking is not constant, then it is a behavioral problem. Are you dealing with normal dog behavior, medical issues, or behavioral issues? If your dog is acting like a normal dog, then follow my four tips to help and comfort him. If you are dealing with behavior problems, then work with a professional trainer who offers positive, rewarding training. If you suspect you are dealing with a medical problem, consult your veterinarian immediately.
I hope you enjoyed this segment on Dog Behavior, specifically on the topic of why dogs shake, and hope you walked away with something of value. If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, Dog Behavior Videos. Thank you very much for reading. I look forward to seeing you in my next article. Please like, share, comment and subscribe. Until next time. Goodbye
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