If your dog’s been shivering a lot, you might wonder if it’s an emergency or you can just wait and see what happens.
What causes a dog to shiver?
To find out if you have an emergency on your hands, it’s good to consider the most common causes of dog shivering. Dogs can shiver for many reasons, such as fear or being too cold, but there are other things to consider.
So, with that in mind, let’s check out the most common reasons why your dog’s shivering a lot and what you can do. There are also times when you can prevent your dog from shivering.
Why Do Dogs Shiver?
Here are common reasons why dogs shiver, as well as some other reasons that could signal an emergency.
Some dog breeds are more anxious and fearful than others, such as border collies.
But any dog can experience fear, so if your dog’s shivering consider if there’s something in the environment that could be triggering this response, such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or strangers coming to visit. Some dogs are even afraid of their water bowl!
If your dog is in pain, such as due to an injury or health condition, this pain could cause trembling and shivering. If your dog is also panting, this could point to a more painful condition that requires a visit to the vet.
If your dog’s bloated or has a tense abdomen, this could be as a result of dog bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition that needs emergency care. Shivering could be a symptom, especially because dogs with this condition can go into shock.
Herniated Disc Or Muscle Problem
If your dog’s shivering and has extreme stiffness or is stumbling around when moving, this could point to a herniated disc or a muscle problem close to the spine. This also requires a trip to the vet without delay.
This is a condition that’s caused by a virus. It’s common in puppies and adolescents, but will usually be accompanied by other symptoms, such as nose and eye discharge, coughing, shivering, and fever.
Generalized Tremor Syndrome
This is a condition that causes the whole body to shake. It used to be something said to affect small dogs of white color, such as Maltese poodles, but any dog breed can get it.
This syndrome tends to strike dogs between the ages of nine months and two years, but it can be treated with corticosteroids.
Dogs can be struck down with nausea for many reasons, such as motion sickness, eating too much, ingesting a toxin, or medication that’s causing side effects.
Some health conditions, such as kidney disease, can also cause nausea in dogs. If your dog’s shaking, this could be a sign that he or she is nauseas.
Some older dogs get tremors in their legs. Sometimes it strikes their hind or front legs, or both. It’s still good to consult with your vet because your dog might be in pain.
If your dog always shivers when you come home or play with them, the reason for this could be excitement. Some training can help to prevent these symptoms.
Maybe your apartment doesn’t feel cold but your dog’s shivering. What gives?
Some dog breeds that have small amounts of body fat and thin coats can feel the cold easily. They can become so chilly that even their tongues get cold! Examples include Dobermans. However, if your dog’s just cold, they should stop shaking and shivering once they’ve warmed up.
A fever can also be accompanied by other symptoms, like coughing, vomiting, tiredness, warm ears and a warm nose, and lethargy.
How Shivering Is Treated
Shivering is always a symptom of something else, so your vet will have to do some tests to see if there’s an underlying reason for the shivering. Of course, if your dog’s just cold or excited, then helping him or her to warm up or calm down will stop the shivering.
So, when is shivering something that warrants a trip to the vet?
- If your dog is shaking and showing other symptoms, like diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, stiffness, or a bloated belly.
- If your dog’s shaking and this is inhibiting them from doing what they love, such as playing, or it’s disrupting their feeding or sleeping schedules.
- If your dog’s shaking after he/she swallowed a toxin.
- If your dog is stressed and can’t calm down, then this warrants a visit to the vet. Check your dog for signs that he/she is trying to calm itself down, such as licking its lips or panting a lot.
Your vet will take your dog’s history into account and do some tests to see if there’s an underlying cause for the shivering.
The treatment to stop the shivering will vary depending on its cause, such as if your dog’s battling an underlying health condition. But, if the shivering stops or doesn’t happen regularly, then treatment might not even be recommended.
What’s The Difference Between Shivering, Tremors, And Seizures?
Although shivering and tremors can look like the same thing, they’re different. A tremor can be defined as a rhythmic, involuntary muscle contraction and relaxation in one or more body parts, as Dogster reports.
It looks like shaking/shivering, but some tremors could happen only at certain times while others could occur constantly.
What about seizures? The big difference when it comes to seizures is that dogs are less aware of what’s going on when they have a seizure. They’re usually unconscious. During tremors, dogs are awake and alert.
How You Can Prevent Shivering
You can sometimes prevent your dog from shivering, so make sure you follow these tips.
- Bring your dog to the vet for regular check-ups to ensure that you catch any health condition when it’s still in the early stages so that it’ll be easier to treat and you might be able to prevent unpleasant symptoms or complications.
- Try to prevent your dog feeling extreme emotions, such as fear or excitement, especially if they cause shivering and other stressful symptoms. You could do this by reducing your dog’s exposure to things that make him/her feel scared, such as by closing curtains when there’s lightning outside or preventing others from being around your dog if your dog is shy. You could also get your dog trained if you don’t like how excitable he or she becomes when you get home.
- Keep poisonous items locked away and out of reach of your dog to prevent him or her from eating items that are toxic, such as human foods, plants and cleaning products including baking soda and magic erasers.
- If your dog suffers from the cold, or is especially sensitive to the cold, you want to ensure you keep him or her warm. This could include tweaking the temperature in your home or lining their bed with warm blankets.
- Brush your dog regularly. Sometimes dogs will shake – although this is different from shivering – so that they can maintain clean coats as this helps to dislodge dust and debris from them. You can help them out by brushing and bathing your dogs on a regular basis. The bonus of doing this is that it will ensure they stay hygienic and healthy.
Are some dog breeds at greater risk of shivering and tremors?
Some breeds, such as Chow Chows, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, Great Danes, Scottish Terriers, are at greater risk, but shivering, tremors, and seizures can happen to any dog.
Why do dogs shake in their sleep?
This isn’t shivering, but it is common. Dogs will shake or twitch during the Rapid Eye Movement phase of sleep, when they’re dreaming. It’s completely normal.
If your dog is shivering, this might be alarming to see but it’s not always a reason to worry. Your dog could be shivering because he or she feels the cold more than other dog breeds or is feeling anxious.
However, shivering could also be a symptom of something more serious, such as if your dog’s dealing with an underlying health condition.
If your dog’s always shivering lately, and/or this is accompanied by other worrying symptoms, you should call your vet without hesitation so that you can get to the bottom of what’s causing the shivering.
Elena Gherman is a highly skilled and knowledgeable animal care expert. At the start of her career, she gained practical expertise with multiple animals. In addition to that, she works as a DVM veterinary editor for Joy Pet Products, which focuses on offering reliable information on pet health and wellbeing. She meticulously reviews each piece of writing before it is published to make sure pet owners get the most precise and updated information possible.