A nervous dog wrapped in a blanket

If only dogs could talk. All of us at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center would have so many questions for them! 

Despite the language barrier, dogs still do communicate with us. By watching their body language and facial expressions, it is possible for us to see that our canine companions actually are saying something. When you observe a new behavior, pay attention, as it is just another way your pet could be telling you something you need to know. A shaking dog is a great example of this.

What is My Dog Trying to Say?

A shaking dog has something to tell you and it’s up to you to figure out what that is. You’ll have to sort through several possibilities to determine the most likely cause, using what you know about your dog and the current situation you are in.

A shaking dog may mean:

  • I am cold.
  • I am in pain.
  • My muscles are weak.
  • I am afraid of something.
  • I am feeling anxious or stressed. 
  • I am very excited.
  • I have gotten into something I shouldn’t have.
  • I am sick.
  • I am having a medical emergency.

Shaking from extreme pain, sometimes accompanied by an arched back, indicates a medical emergency that requires immediate medical care.

Shaking that is accompanied by weakness also indicates a medical emergency that should be addressed right away.

Other conditions, such as osteoarthritis, seizure or other neurological disorders, generalized tremor syndrome, distemper virus infection, and kidney disease can lead to shaking and require medical attention. 

Other possibilities include being scared of an incoming thunderstorm, coming in out of the cold weather, or exciting new visitors, and are usually manageable at home. If a little more help is needed, our veterinarian may recommend using an over-the-counter pet calming product. We have these products available for purchase in our lobby or at our online store.  

When to Worry About a Shaking Dog

Many things on the list of possibilities for a shaking dog are no big deal, but there are definitely some that indicate a problem that needs to be addressed and should not be ignored. 

We advise that we see your dog right away if:

  • The shaking does not stop after a reasonable time frame or with the resolution of the problem (thunderstorm has passed, your pet has been warmed up)
  • Your dog is unable to function normally (eat, play, potty)
  • You think that your dog has been exposed to or ingested a toxin
  • Your dog appears to be in distress or painful
  • Your dog also has an arched back or is weak
  • Your dog seems otherwise sick (vomiting, diarrhea, lethargic, inattentive, etc.)

When in doubt, we would rather see your pet than miss something serious. It is never wrong to address it. Many problems are best treated if diagnosed early on and, once we know what the problem is, we can either help reassure you or get started on fixing the issue. If you are able to get a video of your dog’s behavior while shaking, it would also be helpful during your pet’s appointment.

In the case of fear and anxiety, a visit for an evaluation with us can be helpful, too. Our veterinarians, in conjunction with our pet behavior specialist, can help with desensitization and counterconditioning techniques, as well as utilizing medications and supplements where appropriate. 

Don’t Ignore the Signs

A shaking dog can be a little stressful until we identify what is going on. Remember, though, if you notice this in your dog, your dog is trying to tell you something. It’s your job to help figure out what that something is! Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions about your dog’s behavior, whether shaking or anything else that you observe. We are here to help!