Puppies shake and tremble for many different reasons.
Trembling can be entirely normal for some dogs- a sign of cold temperatures, nausea, or excitement.
However, in other cases it can be a clear symptom of illnesses such as generalized tremor syndrome or canine distemper.
If you have recently noticed your puppy shaking after eating, it’s essential to isolate the cause behind it and eliminate any reasons for concern.
It’s a more significant concern for your pet’s health if the trembling is a new behavior. If shaking begins out of the blue, or accompanies other new changes to your dog’s general behavior, a visit to the vet is imperative.
Even if trembling is common for your dog, a visit to the vet is still recommended to rule out any possible underlying health issues.
I want to point out that no matter what you suspect the cause of the shaking and trembling to be, it is ALWAYS advisable to get a second opinion from your vet. It’s best to consult with a professional instead of jumping to your own conclusions.
Your vet will be able to examine your puppy’s general movement and muscle structure to assess the possible reasons as to why it might be trembling.
Weaning puppies shaking after eating puppy food may simply be experiencing nausea. If something doesn’t sit right with their stomach, trembling and shaking can occur due to the sensitivity.
In another scenario, if your puppy shakes after eating puppy food too much and too fast, their system might be overly reactive. If you suspect that your puppy is overeating, you can try reducing their meal sizes to see if this reduces the trembling.
Ingesting something toxic, whether that be medications like Nyquil, a poisonous plant, or a chemical household product, can also cause a puppy to shake. In this case, other symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea will be present as well.
If you find any evidence of your dog getting into something they weren’t supposed to, or notice the symptoms mentioned above, contact the Animal Poison Control for emergency assistance immediately.
Hartz suggests that for puppies, warmth is just as important as food. If you find your dog shaking after eating, take a quick glance at the thermostat!
Puppies are very delicate, and their body will respond to cold temperatures with trembling and shaking. Puppies do not reach their standard body temperature of 101.5 until they are two to three weeks old. Because of this, they shiver a lot when they are young.
According to Canine Family Planner, general shivering during eating is normal. The act of digestion alters the body temperature in general and can cause your pup to shake slightly.
Shivering is a mechanism they use to warm themselves up- an action we as humans are quite familiar with.
To avoid the cold shakes, make sure your dog’s common areas and feeding area are warm, dry, comfortable places. Additionally, make sure the water you’re filling up your puppy’s drinking bowl with is room temperature and not cold.
If your puppy is under four to five weeks old, they will need a heat source to keep them warm and cozy.
Provide your puppy with an external heating source(s), whether it’s a hot water bottle, heating pad, or a heat lamp. This will help with keeping their body temperature up and keeping them comfortable.
If your furry friend is experiencing strong emotions during or after eating, it’s not uncommon for it to show this by shaking and shivering.
Suppose you associate trembling with a particular situation (perhaps a trip to the vet). You notice your pet shaking every time you visit the vet.
In this particular scenario, it is quite possible that your dog is experiencing stress and associating a visit to the vet with these negative feelings.
Similarly, if your dog gets shaky while eating and only eating, it could be that they are just incredibly excited, or experiencing some sort of stressor. If you notice strong emotions of fear, anxiety, or excitement, the best thing you can try to do is help your dog relax.
Be mindful of your pet’s reactions to certain actions and events. If you start to notice a pattern of behavior you can try and figure out what it is that’s bringing out these emotions in your puppy.
If you don’t have much success on your own, try consulting an animal behavioral therapist to help you address your dog’s emotions.
Some smaller breeds of dogs are predisposed to Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS), which is a condition that involves general trembling and shaking of the head and body.
The condition has also been dubbed Little White Shaker Syndrome because of its prevalence in smaller white dogs like Poodles, Maltese, and West Highland White Terriers. However, any breed is susceptible to the condition- especially if their body weight is below 30 pounds.
GTS is treated with the use of steroids. Prednisone for example will suppress your puppy’s immune system, clearing up the tremors in a matter of only weeks.
Once the condition has subsided, your vet will slowly taper your dog’s dosage. If prednisone isn’t effective, other drugs like mycophenolate, leflunomide, Cytosar will be considered.
The exact cause of GTS remains unknown. Several ideated theories have been put forward, but nothing has been proven via scientific testing and research.
Another common illness resulting in trembling is distemper.
Distemper is a severe virus that can affect dogs and many other forms of wildlife. The transmission occurs via airborne exposure to the virus (the coughing and sneezing of other infected animals).
So, your dog can catch the virus from close contact with not only other dogs but with infected wildlife as well.
According to the AVMA, all breeds and ages of dogs are at risk of contracting the virus, but puppies younger than four months old are especially vulnerable. If your dog hasn’t been vaccinated for canine distemper, their chances of contracting the virus increase as well.
Shaking and trembling is a common symptom of canine distemper. Other symptoms can include:
- Discharge from eyes and/or nose,
- Excessive coughing
- Lethargic mood
- Loss of appetite
There isn’t a concrete cure for this potentially fatal virus. Your vet will focus on controlling the symptoms (i.e., suppressing vomiting, diarrhea) and ensuring that your puppy is staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
To eliminate the risk of your dog picking up canine distemper, prevention is vital. Vaccinate your puppy at a young age to help build up immunity to the virus.
There can be numerous possible causes behind a puppy shaking after eating a meal.
They can range from the normal and benign, such as excitement or cold temperatures, to more alarming reasons of toxicity and illnesses like Generalized Tremor Syndrome or canine distemper.
Try to make sure that you are not giving the puppy too much food at once, as its developing stomach may not yet be able to handle such a burden. Also ensure that the dog’s meals, water and environment are at a comfortable temperature.
If you have eliminated the more simple possibilities and the behavior still exists, it may be time to pay a visit to the vet for a more thorough examination.
Puppies can be very delicate creatures (as most babies are!) and a trained professional will be able to determine whether there is a more serious issue at hand that needs to be resolved.
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.