Dogs can shake for many reasons. Whether it is shaking the whole body or just a part of it. Tremors can range from being completely harmless, to being a sign that requires review by a veterinary health professional.

Common Reasons Why a Dog May Shake


There are several emotional factors that can cause your dog to shake. And a strong feeling like excitement is a common reason of shaking in dogs, especially in younger ones.

The trembling can be caused by the feeling of happiness or the expectation that something good will happen. That moment of trembling disappears after the dog feels calm.

Recent Activity

Dogs might shake after an intense session of exercise or high levels of recent activity. They shake in order to get rid of excess energy. It usually wears off when the dog calms.


Unneutered female dogs enter a period of heat twice a year, in where shaking is a common sign. Heat is usually accompanied by more frequent urination and restlessness. This is not a reason of major concern.

Stress or Anxiety

Thunderstorms, fireworks, sirens and loud noises can stress dogs. In most cases, shaking can be accompanied by panting, cowering and whimpering, the best to do is comforting your dog to make it feel safe.

Shaking off Water

Dogs shake in order to dry their fur as it takes way less time and energy than letting water dry by body heat.

Feeling Cold

Small, short-haired dogs shake in cold environments to keep warm. Be careful not to leave your dog outside in cold weather. Put some clothing and accessories on him to protect him from hypothermia.

Clinical reasons why a dog may shake


When feeling nauseated, dogs can start shaking, licking their lips, salivating and vomiting. Nausea can be caused by medications, motion sickness, poisoning or any disease.


Distemper is an often fatal disease caused by a virus that affects the nervous system, infecting mainly unvaccinated dogs. Apart from shaking, it can cause lack of appetite, runny nose, fever and coughing. It can be prevented by vaccinating your dogs.


Pain can cause dogs to shake. You should look out for other signs like stiffness, lack of interest in food or scratching and licking a certain area.


Seizures caused by epilepsy are possible in dogs. Those seizures are usually accompanied by stiffness and loss of consciousness. Epilepsy might require permanent medication.


Generalized Tremor Syndrome is a disease mostly seen in smaller races although it can happen to any dog, symptoms appear at young age. The causes are unknown.


Bloat is a very serious issue that requires urgent veterinary attention. Look out for other signs like being unable to lie down or unsucessful attempting to vomit.

Cushing Disease

Cushing Disease is caused by an excess production of cortisol, usually causing other symptoms like kidney and liver failure.

Addison Disease

Addison Disease is caused by a malfuncion of the adrenal glands above the kidneys. This can also cause other symptoms like letharghy, weakness or vomiting. Requires veterinary attention.

Heat Exhaustion

The normal temperature for a dog is between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Farenheit, a dog exposed to extremely high temperatures might cause a thermic shock, especially if its hair has a very thick coat.

Shaking in the Head of a Dog

When a dog shakes its head, it is usually related to an issue in the ears, for example:

  • Ear injury
  • Something is inside the ear: Seeds, grass and water for example can cause discomfort in dogs.
  • Ear infection
  • Skin allergies
  • Hemathoma
  • Polyps
  • Parasites

Tremor in a Dog's Leg

Old age

When old age is reached, it is very common for dogs to tremble due to weakening bones and muscles. Joint aches and arthritis can also occur.


A dog that recently has made some intense activity to which it is not used to, might casue muscular fatigue. The best is to reduce the intensity and to rest your dog properly.

Shaking in Puppies

Cerebellar Hypoplasia

This happens when the cerebellum does not develop properly, leading to lack of coordination, tremors and frequently falling over.


Usually appears at two weeks of age, caused by problems with puppy nerves. It usually resolves at the first three or four months of age.

When Should I Concern and Call the Veterinary?

A dog can shake for many reasons, if your dog shakes but you don't notice any signs of anxiety or cold, you can calm down.

If you notice any other symptoms such as listlessness, weakness, ataxia, shortness of breath or larger belly; consult your veterinarian immediately, as it could be a sign of something serious.