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What is Shaking?

Should your dog be shaking or shivering, you will notice his body making involuntary movements when he is awake, outside of when he is showing his delight in your arriving home for the day. The movements can occur in any or all parts of his body. There are a variety of reasons that your dog may be shaking, to include:

  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Problems with his muscles or joints
  • Poisoning
  • Shaker syndrome (generalized tremor syndrome)
  • A virus 
  • A neurological condition
  • Kidney failure
  • Addison’s disease

How serious your dog’s shaking is will depend on other factors you may observe. Should he be shaking mainly in response to a loud noise or particular situation, he is likely experiencing anxiety. Should he display other symptoms in addition to shaking, your veterinarian can help you to determine what may be causing his shaking.

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Why Shaking Occurs in Dogs

The reason for your dog shaking will depend upon its cause. For example:


Should your dog be feeling anxiety for any reason, the hormone epinephrine, also called adrenaline, will be released. In response to his anxiety, your dog may also have an increased heart rate and blood pressure and another hormone, norepinephrine, will be released; all of these factors will lead to shaking in your dog as a result of anxiety.

Muscle and Joint Issues

While muscle disease is rare in dogs, any weakening of the muscles can cause your dog to shake. A degenerative joint disease, such as arthritis, may also cause shaking in the limbs that are impacted by the disease.


The toxic component of many items that can cause poisoning in dogs will lead to their shaking. 

Shaker Syndrome

Also called white shaker disease syndrome, this illness occurs mostly in small white dogs, causing muscle tremors throughout the dog’s body. The condition occurs more frequently in the Bichon Frise, Maltese, West Highland White Terrier, Poodle and Samoyed. While the cause of the disease is not known, it is usually connected to a mild inflammation of the central nervous system called nonsuppurative encephalomyelitis. It is not clear as to whether the inflammation leads to the syndrome or if there is an underlying issue leading to both the inflammation and the symptoms. It is likely congenital as there is a higher occurrence in certain breeds.


Certain viruses can cause neurological symptoms in your dog by impacting his nervous system.

Distemper and rabies can impact the nervous system of your dog; fortunately, vaccinations are available that are protecting your dog against these viruses.

Neurological Conditions

Should your dog experience seizures, a brain tumor, encephalitis, stroke, or a condition that impacts the central or peripheral nervous systems of your dog, it can lead to shaking in his body.

Kidney Failure

Should your dog experience kidney failure or chronic kidney disease, his potassium levels may be low, leading to muscle weakness and tremors.

Addison’s Disease

Also known as hypoadrenocorticism, Addison’s disease occurs due to a decrease in the secretion of corticosteroid from the dog’s adrenal gland. The insufficient levels of hormones impact the dog’s metabolism and electrolyte balance, leading to the symptoms of Addison’s disease, which include muscle weakness and trembling. Adrenal glands may fail for different reasons;  however, the most common is when the glands are destroyed by the dog’s own body. This disease occurs mainly in young to middle aged female dogs.

What to do if your Dog is Shaking

Should your dog’s shaking appear to be connected to loud noises or something that can be causing him anxiety, behavior modification may be helpful in helping him overcome his fears. Depending on the severity of his anxiety, you may seek assistance from a trainer or your veterinarian.

When your dog’s symptoms are not tied to something that may be making him nervous, contact your veterinarian so that your dog can be examined.

Upon examining your dog, your veterinarian may recommend additional testing in order to make a diagnosis. Treatment to remedy shaking in your dog will depend upon the underlying condition causing it. For example, should your dog’s shaking be the result of muscle or joint problems, pain medication and anti-inflammatories may be recommended, as well as lifestyle modifications. Should the shaking be due to Addison’s disease, intravenous hydration therapy will be administered, along with cortisol-like medications that will help to regulate his hormone levels.

Prevention of Shaking

In order to protect your dog from viruses, regular visits to your veterinarian and having recommended vaccinations administered is imperative; vaccinations are very effective at protecting your dog from disease. When looking at how to prevent anxiety in your dog, make sure that he gets plenty of exercise and remains active. Should his anxiety be triggered by noises, you will want to provide him a place where he won’t be startled by loud noises.

Cost of Shaking

Treatment for this symptom can range from no cost through $6,000 and is dependent on the cause of the shaking. An average, when considering the variety of causes of shaking in your dog, the cost is $2,500 to treat Shaker Syndrome for example, and $4,000 if kidney failure is the cause.

Shaking Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Miniature American Shepherd
8 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Sensitive to touch

My dog had his immunizations and a lyme booster Monday (5 days ago) He had an allergic reaction to the booster and was given a steroid shot (dexaject) and a shot of diphenhydramine. Last night we started to notice he was shaking, especially in response to touch which is very unusual. Over the week he has had other symptoms related to the steroid injection (increased hunger/thirst, increased urination, soreness) We brought him in for blood work which came back normal. We aren't sure what is causing the shaking. Could it be a response to the steroid even 4 days later? Or maybe the "coming down" from the steroid injection? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated- we just want our best dog friend to be okay

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Jack Russell Terrier
2 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms


Hi , my dog myah has been waking up the past few mornings shaking her head like a seizure just only her head. It only happens in the morning for a few mins then goes away .
Is there anything I should be worried about or is she just eating to much salt in the food ?
Worried to death momma of beautiful fur baby !

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
It is difficult to say what the possible cause may be, fluid in the ears or ear infections may cause head shaking; you should have a look in the ears to see if there is anything there. You should also visit your Veterinarian for a checkup if you cannot determine a cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


Hi, my 2 year old wirehaired dachshund had a diaphragmatic hernia surgery a week ago due to a traumatic fall. She is recovering well, but she still had some open wounds due to the fall so we took her to the hospital to clean and dress it. She was very anxious and was in slight pain and discomfort so the vet gave her mild sedative, along with her regular dose of painkiller and antibiotic shots. Its been 5 hours she is still unconscious and is shaking. Why is this happening? Is it normal? Please advice. Thank you

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
I can see that you have asked a question twice under two different topics. It depends on the severity of the shaking, some dogs may shake due to pain especially when a sedative is wearing off; if Angie isn’t conscious you should visit your Veterinarian immediately as you indicated in one post that she is still unconscious after five hours, in most parts of the world a dog isn’t released back to the owners until they are fully conscious. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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