My Dog is Shaking and Acting Weird

In the realm of adorable dogs donning sweaters and hats, even they are not immune to the occasional bout of shakes and shivers. It seems that cold temperatures aren’t the sole culprit responsible for inducing tremors in our furry companions, but rather a variety of factors contribute to this phenomenon affecting both dogs and humans alike.

When it comes to dogs, shaking can occur for benign reasons, but there are instances where it serves as a distress signal, warranting our attention. So, what exactly causes a dog to shiver? And when should we take action? In the following paragraphs, I’ll explore six common triggers behind canine shivers and provide guidance on how to assist them.

Six common triggers behind canine shivers (Guidance on how to assist them)


The most straightforward answer to the query, “Why is my dog shaking?” is plain old cold. Shivering in response to frigid environments is an involuntary mechanism designed to stimulate blood circulation, raising body temperature to stave off hypothermia. Smaller dog breeds, such as Chihuahuas, may exhibit shivering tendencies more frequently than their larger counterparts due to their limited body mass and insulation, as explained by the knowledgeable folks at Wag!.
To address this issue, you might want to restrict your dog’s exposure to cold settings. Additionally, equipping them with a snug dog sweater or coat can provide warmth and alleviate shivers. It’s also beneficial to provide a cozy spot for them to curl up, like a dog bed positioned near a heating vent, complete with a toasty blanket for those chilly nights.


Curiously enough, some dogs shiver when they’re filled with joy and excitement. Although the exact cause remains a mystery, one hypothesis suggests that it serves as a visible expression of intense emotions. Rest assured, this type of shivering poses no danger and typically subsides once the dog’s excitement settles down.

Stress, Anxiety, and Fear

Intense emotions like stress and anxiety can also trigger shivering in dogs. While shivering itself may not be inherently harmful, subjecting your dog to prolonged stress is neither beneficial nor desirable.

In such instances, it’s important to provide reassurance to your dog and, if feasible, eliminate the source of their distress. For example, if your dog becomes anxious during thunderstorms, you can try calming them by introducing therapeutic toys or masking the sounds of thunder. Moreover, redirecting their attention can be effective if you notice a consistent trigger causing your furry friend to enter a trembling state. Dogs possess a remarkable ability to perceive and mirror their owners’ emotions, so maintaining a calm demeanor and disregarding stressors in your environment can help your dog learn that there’s no cause for anxiety.

Seeking Attention

However, if you rush to comfort your dog every time they tremble, they might come to view shivering as an effective strategy for gaining your attention. Some dogs even employ shivering as a tactic when begging for food, hoping to elicit sympathy from their human companions.
It’s worth noting that while this behavior isn’t inherently harmful, reinforcing it is ill-advised. If there are no apparent reasons behind your dog’s shivering, it’s generally best to resist the temptation to provide immediate solace. Succumbing to this overt ploy to tug at your heartstrings can inadvertently perpetuate the behavior.

Pain or Illness

Shivering in dogs can be an indication of pain or underlying illness. Muscle tremors and shivering may manifest as symptoms of serious conditions such as distemper, hypoglycemia, Addison’s disease, inflammatory brain disease, or more common ailments like an upset stomach. In fact, persistent shivering might be a sign of generalized tremor syndrome, also known as shaker syndrome, which is a chronic condition that can be managed with appropriate medication, as noted by the experts at Wag!.
It’s crucial to remain vigilant for additional signs of sickness or injury. If your dog’s shivering is accompanied by abnormal behavior or appears out of character, it is imperative to promptly reach out to your veterinarian for professional guidance.

Old Age

As dogs grow older, it’s not uncommon for their leg muscles to weaken, leading to tremors. However, shivering could also indicate the presence of arthritis or joint pain.
When you notice your aging canine companion experiencing tremors, it is advisable to schedule a visit to the veterinarian for a comprehensive evaluation.

Shaking vs. Seizures

It’s important to differentiate between normal shivering and seizures, during which a dog’s muscles contract, resulting in a loss of mobility and awareness of their surroundings. If you suspect that your dog is having a seizure and they are not already receiving treatment for a seizure disorder, it is crucial to seek immediate veterinary care without delay.

While many causes of shivering in dogs tend to be relatively harmless, it’s always advisable to consult with your veterinarian if you find yourself pondering the question, “Why is my dog shaking?” They can shed light on the underlying causes and determine whether there is a need for concern. Even if the shivering turns out to be innocuous, obtaining a professional assessment will provide you with peace of mind.

Remember, your beloved canine companion relies on your care and attention to ensure their well-being. By understanding the potential triggers for their shivering and taking appropriate action, you can help your dog navigate these tremulous moments and provide them with the love and support they need.