Watching a dog shake the water off with a whirlwind of fur or tremble at the sound of thunder is a familiar sight for pet owners. These actions, ranging from comical post-bath dances to more puzzling shivers of distress, are more than just canine quirks. They are a window into our dogs' complex emotional and physical world.

At A Pup Above, we believe in understanding these behaviors not just for amusement but as a crucial aspect of caring for our dogs’ overall wellness. Recognizing why dogs shake — whether for natural reasons or as indicators of underlying issues — is key to ensuring they lead happy, healthy lives by our side.

Why Do Dogs Shake Off Water?

One of the most natural and widely recognized behaviors of dogs is the vigorous shake-off after getting wet. This instinctual act is a marvel of nature's design, allowing dogs to dry themselves and regulate their body temperature efficiently. 

When a dog shakes off water, it's engaging in a highly effective method to remove as much as 70% of the water trapped in its fur, thereby preventing heat loss and maintaining its comfort. This behavior, rooted in their wild ancestors' need to dry off to avoid hypothermia, showcases the incredible adaptability and intelligence of dogs as they navigate their environment.

Can Emotions Cause My Dog to Shake?

Emotional states such as excitement, anxiety, or fear can trigger shaking in dogs. This physical manifestation of their inner feelings clearly indicates their current emotional well-being. 

Conversely, anxiety from loud noises or unfamiliar situations can cause a dog to shiver, signaling their discomfort. Providing a stable, reassuring environment, complemented by the nutritional support of high-quality, comforting meals, can help soothe these emotional tremors. 

Ensuring your dog feels secure plays a vital role in managing stress-induced shakes, highlighting the interconnectedness of their emotional and physical health.

What Medical Conditions Lead to Shaking in Dogs?

Understanding the shakes that ripple through your dog's body requires a closer look into their health and wellness. Sometimes, these tremors are more than just a quirky behavior. They can signal underlying medical conditions that need attention

Here are some common health issues that could cause your canine companion to shake:

  • Generalized Tremor Syndrome (Shaker Syndrome): This condition, often seen in smaller dog breeds, causes widespread shaking that can be mistaken for cold or fear responses.
  • Neurological Issues: Problems within the nervous system can manifest as shakes or tremors, highlighting the importance of regular neurological check-ups.
  • Epilepsy: Seizure disorders like epilepsy can cause visible shaking during episodes, making it crucial to monitor your dog's episodes and manage them with veterinary guidance.
  • Canine Distemper: A more severe viral disease, distemper can lead to shaking as part of its neurological symptoms, underscoring the importance of keeping up with vaccinations.

Regular veterinary check-ups and diagnostics are essential in identifying and managing these conditions, ensuring your dog's health and quality of life are maintained.

Could My Dog’s Diet Be Affecting Their Nervous System?

The connection between diet and health extends beyond the digestive system, influencing neurological well-being and potentially leading to symptoms like shaking. Nutritional deficiencies or exposure to toxic substances can have a profound effect on your dog's nervous system:

  • Nutritional Deficiencies: A lack of essential nutrients can lead to muscle tremors and neurological issues, emphasizing the need for a balanced diet.
  • Toxicities (e.g., Xylitol Poisoning): Certain substances, like xylitol, found in some human foods, are toxic to dogs and can cause severe shaking and other neurological symptoms.

So, the next time you're reaching for a treat or snack for your dog, remember: it's not just about filling their belly — it's also about fueling their brain. By choosing a safe and nutritious diet, you're taking a big step toward a healthier nervous system for your pup.

Is My Dog Shaking Due to Old Age?

As dogs step gracefully into their golden years, they often carry the weight of age in their bodies. Shaking or tremors in older dogs can indicate this natural aging process, affecting their muscular and neurological health.

It's not just about the years in their life but the life in their years and how we, as caring pet owners, can make every moment count. A supportive diet plays a pivotal role here. 

Our fresh, human-grade meals are crafted with older dogs in mind and are packed with nutrients to support muscle strength and overall wellness. Watching an older dog navigate the challenges of age with dignity is a beautiful thing — especially when we know we're providing them with everything they need to do so comfortably.

Can Certain Dog Breeds Shake More Than Others?

While all dogs can shake, some breeds exhibit this behavior more frequently or prominently than others. This isn't about pigeonholing our dogs but understanding their unique needs so we can care for them better:

  • Chihuahuas: Known for their spirited personality, these smaller dogs sometimes shake due to their small size and higher metabolic rate.
  • West Highland White Terriers: This breed can be prone to conditions like generalized tremor syndrome, highlighting the need for attentive care.
  • Shaking Puppy Syndrome: This genetic predisposition affects several breeds, including Bernese Mountain Dogs, Chow Chows, English Springer Spaniels, Rat Terriers, Samoyeds, and Weimaraners. Puppies with this condition usually show symptoms like head and body tremors that worsen with activity and improve with rest.

What About External Factors?

When we think about why dogs shake, it's easy to jump straight to health concerns or the after-bath jitters, but sometimes the reasons are external. Like humans, dogs react to their environment, and various factors can cause them to shiver or shake. 

Cold weather is a common culprit, especially for breeds with thinner coats or smaller sizes that might not hold body heat as well. Then there's the fear factor — loud noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or even the vacuum cleaner can send some dogs into a shaking frenzy. 

These reactions are normal, but knowing how to comfort your dog during these times can make all the difference. Cozying up with a warm blanket, playing some soothing music, or even offering a distraction like a bowl of Porky’s Porchetta can help ease their nerves. 

Understanding these external triggers helps us better cater to our dogs' needs, ensuring they feel safe and comfortable — no matter what's happening around them.

When Should I Seek Veterinary Help for My Shaking Dog?

So, you've noticed your pup shaking, and you're wondering, "Why is my dog doing this?" While we've explored a variety of reasons, from the quirky to the serious, it's important to know when to reach out for professional help. 

Here are a few guidelines:

  • Persistent Shaking: If your dog's shaking is continuous or happens regularly without an apparent reason, it's time to consult your vet.
  • Accompanied by Other Symptoms: Shaking that's paired with other concerning signs, like limping, head shaking, or ear infection symptoms, or any sudden change in behavior warrants a closer look by a professional.
  • After Eating Something New: Dogs can develop tremors from ingesting toxic substances. If you suspect your dog has eaten something harmful, like xylitol, or is showing signs of poisoning, contact your vet or animal poison control immediately.
  • Lack of Improvement With Comfort Measures: If your attempts to soothe their fear or warm them up don't stop the shaking, there might be an underlying issue that needs addressing.

Remember, you know your canine companion best. If something feels off, it's always better to err on the side of caution and seek veterinary advice. 

The Bottom Line

Understanding the "why" behind their shakes and shivers is part of the rhythm. At A Pup Above, we're not just about serving up delicious, human-grade meals — we're about nourishing every aspect of your dog's well-being. 

Whether they're shaking off a dip in the pond, trembling from excitement at their dinner bowl, or needing a little extra care for those more perplexing shakes, we're here to support you. 

Together, let's ensure our dogs have everything they need to live happy, healthy, and shake-free lives filled with joy, comfort, and plenty of tail-wagging.


The Physics Behind The Amazing Things Animals Do | WPR

Why Is My Dog Shaking? Causes & Solutions | The American Kennel Club (AKC)

Why does my dog shake | The Kennel Club

A hypomyelinating leukodystrophy | PMC