Why is My Dog Shaking? 7 Potential Causes

Four Minutes
Sep 25, 2023

At one point or another, most dog owners have probably noticed their dog shaking. Not knowing the cause can be frightening. Most of the time a dog shivering is nothing more than an expression of anxiety or fear. However, it can also be a sign of serious medical issues.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common causes of shaking in dogs, and how to determine when they warrant medical intervention.

Dog Shivering: Common Causes

Anxiety and fear

It’s common for dogs to tremble when they experience fear or anxiety.3 Every dog has different triggers, but the most common ones include fireworks or thunderstorms.

If your dog is anxious, do your best to comfort them. Talk to them in a calm, reassuring tone. Try to create a safe space where they feel protected. If you can remove your furry friend from the situation causing their anxiety, do so immediately. Otherwise, do your best to comfort them until their fears subsides. If your dog is aggressive, that could mean that you should give them some space.

If anxiety is an ongoing issue for your dog, speak to your veterinarian. There may be medication they can prescribe to help relieve symptoms during certain situations.


Many dogs will tremble out of excitement. This is often not a cause for concern, and usually the pup’s excitement will subside after a few minutes. Young or very high-energy dogs may take longer to calm down.

You can help calm your dog by speaking to them in a calm voice. You may also try to keep your movements slow and deliberate as well, so you don’t add to their excitement.


Dogs may have furry coats, but they can still get cold. If you notice your dog trembling on a cool day, it’s possible that they’re just shivering.

If your pup doesn’t have a thick undercoat, they may need a sweater or jacket to keep them warm during cold snaps. Try to make sure your pup has a warm place to rest and sleep. If their bed is on a tile or concrete floor, place a piece of cardboard underneath it for extra insulation. Make sure the bed is situated out of the way of any cool drafts, and away from windows.

Dog tremors and age

Many dogs develop tremors as they age. This is often due to their muscles weakening as they get older. It could also be a result of their nervous system deteriorating. If your older dog suddenly develops a tremor, be sure to take them in for a check-up with your vet. There’s always a possibility that the tremor is indicative of a more serious underlying issue.  In which case, a dog insurance policy may be able to help.2

Does Your Shaking Dog Need a Trip to the Vet?

Pet Insurance Can Help


Trembling can be an indication that your dog is in pain. Usually, pain-related tremors are accompanied by other symptoms as well.4 Take note of your dog’s overall posture and behavior. Is your dog limping? Do they look stiff? Are they restless?

Often, dogs that are in pain will shift position constantly, trying to find one that alleviates their discomfort.5 They often pace and may whine, cry, or even drool excessively. If your dog is exhibiting any combination of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Illness or chronic medical conditions

Sometimes dog shaking is a side effect of a medical condition, such as kidney disease, distempervestibular disease, and other medical conditions.4

If you notice any changes in your dog’s normal behavior or physical state, take note of them. If there’s an underlying medical condition, the tremors are probably just one of many symptoms. Consider your dog’s energy levels, appetite, stool consistency, and anything else that might seem off. This information will help your veterinarian make an accurate diagnosis.

Shaker syndrome

Shaker syndrome can affect any dog, though it most often affects small dogs.6 It’s sometimes referred to as “little white shaker syndrome” because many cases occur in small, white-furred dogs such as the Maltesepoodle, and Maltipoo breeds.

This hereditary disorder affects a dog’s nervous system. The exact cause is unknown, but once diagnosed, this syndrome can be managed with medication.

What Should I Do if My Dog Is Shaking?

Because trembling can have so many different causes, it’s important to take note of all of your dog’s symptoms and address them as a whole with your vet. Generally speaking, if your dog doesn’t typically tremble, contact your veterinarian to ensure they aren’t experiencing a serious medical issue. It’s always better to play it safe when it comes to the wellbeing of your furry friend.

Can Pet Insurance Help With Dog Shaking?

Although it’s often innocuous, trembling could indicate something more serious. We all want what’s best for our furry family, but that often comes with a hefty vet bill. A dog health insurance policy is one way to provide pet parents with the peace of mind and make sure your dog can get the help they deserve.2  Read our cost breakdown to see if MetLife Pet Insurance is worth the investment for you and your pooch.1

Help Protect Your Dog at Any Age

 Dr. Hunter Finn

Dr. Hunter Finn is an integrative veterinary expert first, and social media star second. America’s favorite veterinarian owns Pet Method in McKinney, Texas, where he cares for pets while prioritizing their emotional well-being. When he’s not at his clinic, he’s starring in viral videos on TikTok (2 million followers) and Instagram (500K followers) — where he’s been known to snuggle puppies and conquer the latest dance trends.

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 ”Signs Your Dog Is Stressed and How to Relieve It,” VCA Animal Hospital

4 ”Dog Shivering or Trembling: Causes and Treatments,” Fetch by WebMD

5 ”How to Know If Your Dog Is In Pain: Signs of Discomfort,” American Kennel Club

6 ”Shaker Syndrome in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospital