Why Is My Dog Shaking Or Shivering?


Last Updated: February 23, 2024 | 4 min read | 2 Comments

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Dog shaking water off (Caption: Dog Shaking Explained)

Ever wonder why your dog shakes all the time? Why is she shaking? You may notice that your dog shakes when she gets out of the water, but dogs shake when they’re dry too. Your dog may shake after greeting people, while playing, when getting up, or readjusting to a different position. Each shake has a different reason. You may also notice that your dog’s shaking is more like shivering or trembling – and there are other reasons for that too.

Why Is My Dog Shaking?

Are you wondering why your dog shakes her body? Dogs shake for many reasons.

To Dry Off

Dogs shake after a bath or a dip in the lake to help them dry off and maintain their warmth. A dog’s skin warms up her coat and helps evaporate the water, and shaking is an effective way for a dog to get dry. To speed up the drying process, use a towel to help soak up extra water on her coat.

To Relieve Stress & Tension

Sad golden laying next to tennis ball (Caption: Anxiety In Dogs)

Your dog may shake after an interaction with another dog or during a break in play. Dogs also shake after being in an unfamiliar place (like the vet’s office) or around a person they don’t know.

You may even notice your dog shake after you hug her. That’s because most dogs aren’t too keen on being hugged. Hugs are a way for humans to show affection, and our dogs have learned to tolerate it, but it can make them feel a little uneasy.

Why Does My Dog Shake When I Leave?

Quote Form Widget

Some dogs experience anxiety, and shaking can help relieve the tension they experience during these encounters. Other signs of stress in dogs include:

  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Yawning
  • Licking
  • Drooling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Pinned back ears
  • Tense posture

To Stay Clean

Girl giving Lab a bath in tub (Caption: How To Bathe Dogs)

Shaking helps dogs keep their coat clean. Dogs may lick themselves to clean their coat, but not to the extent that cats do. Shaking is an effective way to remove dust and debris on the coat. Another method to remove dust and debris from your dog’s coat is to brush and bathe her regularly.

An Ear Issue

Your dog may have an ear infection, or your dog may have gunky ears that need cleaning out. If your dog is shaking more often than usual and seems to be off-balance (a sign of an ear issue), schedule an appointment with your vet immediately.

A Skin Condition

Dog itching ear (Caption: Dog Skin Allergies)

Your dog may be looking for relief from a skin condition. If your dog has mites, fleas, or ticks, she may be extra itchy, and shaking can help relieve the itch momentarily. If your dog is scratching excessively and shaking, there’s a chance your dog may have skin allergies or another skin condition. Call your vet and ask how you can help your dog.

To Reset

Does your dog shake after playing, going for a walk, or waking up? A shake can also be a way for your dog to mentally and physically reset.

Why Is My Dog Shivering?

Dog with ThunderShirt on (Caption: ThunderShirt For Dogs)

For the sake of this article, we classify shaking as being different from shivering and trembling. Shivering or trembling is uncontrollable, whereas shaking is intentional by a dog. If your dog is shivering or trembling, it may be due to one of these reasons.

Your Dog May Be In Pain

Is your dog panting and shaking uncontrollably? If your dog suffered an injury, she might be experiencing some pain. This pain can produce high adrenaline and panting, which can cause your dog to shiver. If you think your dog is in pain, you should go to the vet immediately.

Your Dog May Be Scared

Many dogs shiver during thunderstorms or 4th of July fireworks. In these instances, a thunder jacket may help calm your dog. Another reason your dog may tremble is when she is fearful of someone. An abused dog may tremble if something alarms them (raised voices, quick motions, specific objects, etc.)

Personal Experience: Scared Dog

The moment I got our fly swatter out, our dog Sally went into the other room and began trembling. I can’t help but think someone abused her with a fly swatter in the past. Now when I need to use the fly swatter, I try to do it when she’s outside, in another room, or when someone can distract her.

– Kimberly A., Canine Journal

Your Dog May Be Excited, Anxious, Or Nervous

Dogs may shiver when they’re excited and trying to control themselves. For example, if you ask your dog to sit while holding a treat in your hand, she may shiver with excitement. Your dog is trying to control herself and remain seated so she can have the treat. Dogs also shiver when experiencing separation anxiety.

Personal Experience: Separation Anxiety

Sally trembles when she thinks we’re leaving the house without her. She curls up in a ball and begins to shiver. We hate to leave her, but we know it’s only for a short period, and we’ll be back soon to give her lots of affection.

– Kimberly A., Canine Journal

If you think your dog is suffering from anxiety, you might want to consider using CBD oil.

Your Dog May Be Cold

Dog in snow (Caption: Best Dog Boots and Coats for Winter)

If the temperature is near or below freezing, dogs shiver, likely because they are cold. Bundle your dog up in the winter months with booties and coats, and don’t leave her outside too long in fridged weather.

Personal Experience: Shivering Dog

Sally went outside in the winter for a potty break with another dog. They got distracted playing to the point where they were both standing still, shaking, and lifting their paws off of the snow because they were so cold.

– Kimberly A., Canine Journal

Your Dog May Be Ill

Dog having seizure on back in grass (Caption: Dog Seizures: Causes, Symptoms And Treatments)

Some dogs suffer from illnesses that cause tremors, including:

  • Addison’s disease
  • Seizure disorders
  • Kidney disease
  • Poisoning
  • Canine distemper
  • Generalized tremor syndrome
  • Vomiting

Why Are My Dog’s Back Legs Shaking?

A dog’s back legs shaking may be a sign of muscle weakness. Senior dogs or dogs who have experienced a trauma or illness are more likely to have their back legs twitch. If you notice your dog’s hind limbs trembling, schedule an appointment with your vet for a complete physical exam.

Why Do Dogs Shake In Their Sleep? (Video)

Is your dog shaking in her sleep? This twitching most likely occurs during your dog’s REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep. It’s during this stage that your dog is getting her most restful sleep and dreaming. Your dog may dream about chasing a rabbit, catching a frisbee, or playing with a toy. These dreams may result in your dog twitching in her sleep. Watch this video to see a dog shivering in her sleep.

When It’s Time To Talk To Your Vet

If you’re concerned about the amount of shaking your dog is doing, consider mentioning it at your dog’s next vet exam. If you think it’s concerning and could be health-related, schedule a check-up with your vet today. You can also try out this online vet service to get an answer from a vet immediately.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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