6 Possible Reasons Why Dogs Shiver and Shake

by Anne-Marie Smith
why dogs shake

Shivering, trembling, or shaking is a common behavior in dogs. They do so for several reasons, some good, others bad. For instance, your dog will shiver and shake after walking in the rain, or after taking a bath to remove the excess water from his fur. Let’s look at other possible reasons behind shivering and shaking in dogs and what you can do to fix the problem:

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As you may already know, staying out in freezing weather conditions for a long period of time can cause shivering/shaking as well as hypothermia in your dog. Dogs have a natural instinct to protect themselves from extremely cold temperatures by shaking off the excess water in their fur.

Solution – Keep your dog warm during cold weather conditions with dog sweaters and coats. Dog booties are also essential to provide protection to your pet’s paws. But most importantly, limit the time he spends outside in the cold.

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Drying Off

Dogs, as well as other animals, have excellent shaking abilities. They’ve perfected their shaking skills to the point where they can comfortably shake off up to 70% of the water in their fur. This helps them to dry off faster. That’s why you’ll see your pooch shaking after taking a bath, swimming, or after being rained on.

Solution – There’s actually nothing wrong with your dog shaking off excess water after getting wet. Just make sure you remove all the things near him that you don’t want to get wet.

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Pain or Sickness

Just like human beings, dogs also shake and shiver when they are sick or in pain. Some of the diseases that cause trembling in dogs include nausea, kidney disease, seizures, distemper, Addison’s disease, inflammatory brain diseases as well as poisoning.

Solution – Take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect that his shivering is due to sickness or pain.


Excitement can also cause your canine friend to shiver and tremble. This often happens while you’re displaying affection physically i.e. during cuddling. It’s completely healthy and normal for dogs to shake while excited. It’s their way of spending their excess energy.

Solution – There’s no solution required for this problem, but if the shaking bothers you, discourage the behavior by ignoring him when he’s hyperactive. Reward only calm behavior.

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Stress and Anxiety

Dogs also shake and tremble due to anxiety and stress. This may happen when they hear fireworks, whistles, bells, horns, and beeping alarms. In addition, trips to the vet, riding in a car, or experiencing negative experiences for a long period of time can also cause your pet to develop anxiety and stress. When this happens, he may start engaging in destructive behaviors like chewing your favorite shoe as a coping mechanism.

Solution – Training may help to alleviate anxiety in most dogs, but if this doesn’t work, ask your vet for medications that can help.

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Old Age

Lastly, old age can induce shaking in senior dogs, especially in their legs. However, shaking can also be a sign of discomfort and pain in their joints, so don’t always assume your pet’s trembling is due to old age.

Solution – If you push your senior dog too far during exercise, it could cause joint pains, which results in trembling. So, adjust his exercise routine according to suit his current physical capability. You should also consider taking your pet to the vet for further checkup. After diagnosis, your vet will recommend the most appropriate therapy or treatment to help alleviate the pain.

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In general, shaking, shivering, or trembling in dogs should not be ignored. You never know if a medical problem is behind the shaking. So, your best bet is to contact your vet immediately for help or advice if you’re unsure of the exact cause of your pet’s behavior.

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