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Why Do Dogs Shiver or Tremble

There are different reasons why your dog is trembling or shivering. It can indicate an emotional issue or a problem with his physical health.

Sometimes treatment is necessary and sometimes you can just let it go as it will spontaneously resolve.

So how do you know when to be concerned when your pup is shivering or trembling?


Like humans, dogs can also get cold, and shiver as a result.

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Many dogs get scare from loud sounds like fireworks.  This is one common symptom displayed by dogs when they are shivering or shaking.



Shivering due to sickness is usually accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the exact health issue. Trembling and nauseated dogs can be suffering from medication intoxication, toxic plant ingestion, viral and bacterial digestive infections, kidney disease and liver disease.

Other apparent signs, in this case, are smacking of the lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, yawning and hiding in dark places. Except when you are sure that the reason for the shivering and the nausea is accidental ingestion of substances poisonous for your dog, you cannot know what exactly the problem is. In both cases, it’s best to visit the vet office and have your dog thoroughly examined.


Distemper is a life-threatening viral disease that affects puppies and adolescent dogs that haven’t been properly vaccinated. The disease is a common cause of strong muscle tremors in dogs. Other symptoms include fever, coughing, nose and eye discharge, etc. Only your veterinarian can diagnose distemper with few tests. The treatment is supportive and helps the body fight the virus on its own. Puppies with distemper are usually treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and vitamins.

White Shaker Syndrome or GTS

White shaker syndrome or GTS (Generalized Tremor Syndrome) is a disease most prevalent among small-breed dogs such as West Highland Terriers and Maltese. The cause of GTS is unknown and the initial symptoms appear in dogs 1-2 years of age. Treatment with corticosteroids alleviates the symptoms and dogs start feeling better within a few days.


Neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, can cause your dog to tremble uncontrollably, but the symptoms are so strong and obvious that you will know it’s an emergency. Epilepsy manifests with jerking, stiffening, strong muscle tremors, foaming and the mouth, loss of consciousness, dropping to one side of the body and making paddling motions with the legs. Each case of epileptic seizures should be thoroughly investigated in order to start with the appropriate treatment and control of the disease.


It takes so little to make a dog happy like you coming home from work or picking up the leash to take Frido to the park. Such small acts can make your dog shiver from excitement, and also bark, roll or urinate. Most dogs will eventually grow out of this habit, but even if they don’t, shivering and trembling as a result of excitement is hardly anything to be worried about.

Old Age

Older dogs tend to shiver and tremble a lot more than young ones. This has a lot to do with chronic pain in their legs. As dogs age, the cartilages in their joints wear-off and subsequently osteoarthritis develops. Dogs with osteoarthritis experience pain in the morning while their joints are still cold. As the problem is of chronic nature, the treatment is long-term and tends to control the symptoms only.

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