Ever wondered why your little dog shakes? Our little dog Ponyo shakes all the time. When we first saw him shaking our first reaction was to give him a big cuddle, either warming him up or comforting him as we thought something had scared him. That wasn’t necessarily the case. Later, he would shake every time he was about to be fed (interesting we thought). Well, after a great deal of research on the topic, we’ve uncovered some truths for you to sift through.
Cause & Effect
Why do little dogs shake? First of all, there are a number of causes that contribute to your small dog shaking. They could be shivering and shaking due to any one of the following problems:
It’s fairly common to notice that many little dog breeds tend to shake and tremble, making you wonder about the causes of this phenomenon. The varying causes of those adorable little dogs shaking can be negative, as with health issues, or positive, as with sheer excitement. Let’s explore more of them in each category.
One of the most common and very obvious reasons for their shaking is, of course, their size. Because they’re so small, they have a tendency toward having a lot less body fat. This can cause them to have some difficulty when it comes to being able to regulate their body temperature. Having small amounts of body fat could result in the little guys getting really cold much faster than larger dogs while also making them more susceptible to the adverse reactions to the elements.
It’s also why you might see small dogs all dressed up in cute little sweaters and other protective clothing. It’s actually less of a fashion statement and more out of necessity because of the cold and how it affects little dogs.
Another reason for little dogs shaking could be any one of a number of medical conditions, including:
1. Hypoglycemia (ie. low blood sugar)
If your little dog doesn’t have blood sugar that’s high enough, he or she could have difficulty regulating their body temperature, causing him to shake. Having your little dog checked for low blood sugar by your vet would be the best option. There are also some home remedies that you could try if your little one has this medical condition.
This can be worrisome when he or she is suffering from a high fever, which can also cause chills. Getting his fever down should be your first priority.
3. Emotional Stress
Since little dogs are often quite sensitive, your little one could be shaking and shivering due to fear or emotional stress. As you know, stress isn’t good for anyone, human or canine.
Caused by a virus and occurring most often in puppies and other young dogs who aren’t yet fully vaccinated, it’s a common cause of shaking. Other distemper signs can include coughing and nose and eye discharge, as well as fever and other symptoms.
5. Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)
GTS (ie. white shaker dog syndrome or steroid-responsive tremor syndrome) was initially noticed in little white dogs like W. Highland Terriers and Maltese, however, it also occurs in other dogs regardless of color, breed, or size. To date, nobody really knows what causes this syndrome, however, they generally begin from ages nine months to two years. Treatment usually involves corticosteroids such as prednisone and the positive results are generally seen within one week from the start of treatment.
Much the same as people, dogs can suffer from nausea brought on by over-eating, medications, motion sickness, or consuming the wrong thing, like toxic plants. Unfortunately, it could be the result of liver or kidney disease as well. Shaking could be signaling you that your little dog is nauseous. Of course, treatment is dependent upon the cause. Since poisoning could be the cause of his nausea, if your dog suddenly starts to vomit or appears to be suffering from nausea and you know what he might have ingested, be sure to immediately call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435.
A number of poisons/toxins could cause shaking and many of them are completely harmless for people but quite toxic when eaten by dogs, including chocolate, cigarettes, and xylitol (found in many sugar-free chewing gum brands) In addition, the snail baits in your garden could contain metaldehyde, which also causes severe convulsions and muscle tremors. Other poisoning symptoms can include depression, diarrhea, disorientation, drooling, seizures, vomiting, and weakness.
8. Pain and/or Old Age
When little dogs get older, many of them could develop hind leg tremors, which can also occur in the front legs. This generally won’t affect the way he or she walks or moves. It can be easy to start assuming that shaking legs are just caused by old age, however, trembling could be a sign of pain, so talking to your vet is important if your aging little dog develops tremors.
9. Seizure Disorders
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that also affects dogs and can cause trembling or shaking. Other symptoms can include chomping, tongue chewing, collapsing, drooling, foaming at the mouth, jerking, muscle stiffening or twitching, or losing consciousness. Treatment can include seizure-control medications like potassium bromide, Keppra, or phenobarbital.
There are also many things that could cause your small dog to shiver, tremble, or shake. Many dog owners ask if any of them are positive and the fact is that, yes, shaking is often a good thing, like:
It really doesn’t take too much to make your little dog happy. Coming home after work or being out can be more than enough for making some little dogs start shaking, barking, or even urinating with excitement. Many dogs simply grow out of it, however, you can assist your dog with calming down by simply keeping your greeting at the front door as calm and brief as possible.
Had the experience of your little dog trembling or shiver while you’re in the middle of playing fetch or giving him some love and affection? It may look a little strange, however, it’s actually nothing for you to worry about. For dogs to shake when they’re excited is normal and actually healthy.
Ponyo shakes on queue when he hears the food hit his dish.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with your little dog shaking the excess water off when he’s wet. This particular reflex is very helpful in preventing hypothermia because the water could make your pooch feel really cold if left on his fur. Did you know that your little dog can remove more than 70 percent of all the water from his fur just by shaking?
Lots of dog owners tend to react to shaking by offering more love and affection. Well, guess what? Many little dogs can quickly pick up on this reaction and start shivering just to get more attention. Pretty smart, right?
Little Dog Shaking to Look Out For
What particular instances of shaking in little dogs are crucial to be aware of?
A Cold Environment
Now that you know that your dog might be shaking off some excess water for the purpose of preventing hypothermia, although it normally isn’t something to worry about, when the weather turns cold in your neck of the woods, it could pose a major problem for your dog if he’s outside in the cold for extended periods of time. The majority of dogs who don’t tolerate the cold can be warmed up sufficiently with a cute little dog sweater or coat. Also, don’t forget about providing paw protection, like little dog booties.
Pain or Sickness
Little dogs will often start shaking or shivering if they’re in pain or they suffer from an illness just like we could start trembling when we have a bad cold or a fever. So, if you suspect that your little dog could be sick or in pain, your first step should, of course, be contacting your vet.
In the same way that people do, little dogs can become anxious and stressed and there are a number of reasons for it, including beeping alarms, a ride in the car, fireworks, or a trip to the vet’s office for example. In addition, a variety of stressors can end up developing over time due to negative experiences. However, the majority of dogs can have their anxiety cured via training. If training doesn’t work, discuss medication with your vet.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that you shouldn’t ignore your little dog shaking, shivering, or trembling. Although the cause of it may be completely benign, it’s of significant importance that you keep paying close attention to when it occurs. That way, you can ensure your pup is getting all of the help he needs when it’s not the positive kind of shaking. After all, they are a very important part of your family and deserve to live a life full of happy shaking, not scary shaking.