There are lots of reasons your dog might shake. These can be nothing to worry about but can be due to a medical condition that may need veterinarian advice. We explore common reasons for why your dog shakes. We Also look at the most frequent medical conditions that could be causing your dog to shake.

There are environmental factors that could cause your dog to shake, including- stress, excitement and simply being cold! 

Your dog is cold

Like us when a dog gets cold their muscles will react to help increase the body temperature. This reaction is visible as shaking. If this happens to your dog, then keep your dog in a warm and dry place. If on a walk, then it would make sense to get your dog home. Like us the thinner the dog and/or dogs coat the more likely the reaction to the cold. If you find this shivering persists when out with your dog then you may want to consider a dog coat. For more advice see our article here regarding dog coats.

Stress induced shaking

Under stress you may observe your dog shaking, this is caused by the release of adrenaline in the body. In essence your dog goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode preparing for imminent action. Stress can be triggered by many different factors in dogs. Some environmental factors are clear causes, for example fireworks and thunder (our article here will help manage your dogs stress through fireworks night). Removing the cause of stress will help, however if the shivering continues and you still have concerns then it would be worth consulting your veterinarian.

Further information can be found here which may help with understanding and helping with anxiety in your dog.


Younger dogs will experience overexcitement more and is a reaction to certain stimuli. This is nothing to worry about especially if linked to positive environmental factors. For example when your dog is playing with a toy or about to go on a walk. The shaking should stop, and a calming environment will help reduce the shaking. 

Wet dogs!

Predictably dogs will shake a lot when they are wet, this is a very effective way for your dogs to remove water from their fur. Whilst it can be unwelcome if in proximity, it is the best way for your dog to dry itself quickly!

Medical conditions linked to shaking.

Once you have ruled out all the environmental reasons for your dog shaking, we would recommend consulting a vet to assess your dog. There are many conditions linked to shaking from nausea to epilepsy – some easier to identify then others and usually other symptoms present alongside the shaking.

Some of the most common causes include:

Poisoning– this can come from food that dogs shouldn’t be eating (see our article here for more detail), these can be extremely dangerous and so veterinary advice should be sought immediately.

Nausea– Like us dogs can have a significant response to vomiting especially just before and this can include shaking. Alongside shaking your dog may be very dribbly.

Ear infection– if your dog is shaking its head a lot then this could be a sign of an infection or something in the ear (grass seed for example).

Pain– Most dogs are tough and so don’t necessarily show pain in the same way as us humans. You may notice your dog shaking and potentially being off its food alongside other symptoms, this could be a sign your dog is in pain. You should seek veterinary advice immediately.

There are many other medical causes of shaking including epilepsy, distemper (although would only affect unvaccinated dogs), brain conditions, kidney failure and so on…. As such it is always important to consult your vet first, this should hopefully avoid unnecessary panic and may help save your dog’s life in extreme cases.

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