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What is Shaking When Breathing Inward?

Your dog may shake for any number of reasons, such as shaking off water after a bath, while other reasons are not so obvious. Shaking while breathing inward can be caused by excitement, or fear, and even for the simple reason that they are cold. Pain and poisoning can also induce shaking and uneven breathing, which needs veterinary assistance rapidly. Certain breeds such as the pug dog may have problems breathing because of their short pushed in facial features, causing them anxiety and shaking. While shaking when breathing inward may be harmless, don’t ignore it as it could be a sign of underlying disease.

  • Excitement and hyperactivity 
  • Fear and stress 
  • Pain 
  • Poisoning 
  • Disease of the kidneys, Addison’s disease, and inflammatory brain disorders

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Why Shaking When Breathing Inward Occurs in Dogs

Excitement and Hyperactivity 

As a dog owner, you will be aware of the excitement levels that hit your dog when you start playing a game at home or go on a trip. Dogs live for the moment, give one hundred percent effort, and are starters for almost any adventure. Sometimes they can get over-keen and shake, breathe heavily, and almost pass out from their elevated sense of excitement. 

Fear and Stress  

It is sad to see a dog trembling with fear or anxiety. Anything can trigger an anxiety attack: even riding in the car, going to visit the veterinary clinic, other dogs that are bolder than they are, and being left with people they don’t know. Your pet can shake, and his breathing pattern can change because of shallow breathing and not getting enough air in its system.   


Your dog may be feeling poorly or be in pain which can cause some shaking while breathing inward due to a fever or nausea. Some illnesses associated with shaking are distemper, kidney disease, and others.


Dogs have a notorious reputation for getting into things they shouldn’t and often test new things with their mouth. From chewing on rat poison, chocolate or plants that are poisonous, to ingesting pills that they may find, to sampling chemicals, your dog will give it a go. And even if they have been poisoned before, they don’t learn from their mistakes so it is up to owners to lock everything away or deny access to things that may harm them. 


As certain diseases develop, symptoms like shaking when breathing in can manifest. Chronic kidney disease, Addison’s disease (known as canine hypoadrenocorticism- this is a reduction in corticosteroid secretions from the adrenal glands which causes a lowering in day to day functioning of your dog), and distemper all have shaking and tremors as a symptom. And while not a disease, old age can bring with it the shakes as disorders can cause shaking and tremors.

What to do if your Dog is Shaking When Breathing Inward

Often it can be just excitement that causes your dog to shake while it breathes in. Your dog can get so excited to play a game, chase a ball, or go for a ride. They are so enthusiastic that they can hardly breathe. Try to calm your dog down a bit with your own calm behavior and a gentle voice. Sometimes dogs can become hyperactive due to people working them up and over-exciting them. 

 If your dog shakes but settles down the moment you give him a cuddle and attention, it may be anxiety.  Strangers in the house, or missing you can all cause the shakes. If something is stressing your dog help them to get through it. Introduce them calmly to other people while reassuring them. If you have to go out, ensure they have toys to play with and maybe some music on to calm them. It is all about reassurance. 

If you find your dog is in pain, which is causing the shaking and the changed breathing, it is advisable to take your dog to the veterinarian for a check over. Medications may be administered allowing your dog relief from the pain and the chance to recover. If disease causes pain, then the sooner the condition is diagnosed and treated the better. Addison’s disease can be treated through the administration of cortisol type drugs which will regulate the hormone levels, and medications can be given for heart problems and to regulate mineral balance within your dog.

Poisoning needs immediate attention as some poisons can be extremely fast working. If you know what your dog has been eating it will save your specialist time in diagnosing the cause. Your dog may need to have his stomach pumped to remove the poison, or they may require fluids to flush it out or charcoal to absorb it all. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the best treatment for your dog.

And finally – it just may be that your dog is cold. Some fine hair coat dogs can suffer as the weather changes, or as they age. A dog jumper or coat will help your dog warm up, and an extra blanket on the bed will make life more pleasant.

Prevention of Shaking When Breathing Inward

Training can often alleviate anxiety and improve your dog's confidence. Providing reassurance and special time together can also help, especially if you are away from your dog during the day. An owner needs to be observant and notice if your dog is feeling cold, or is a bit under the weather, and must take action to remedy any suffering your dog is experiencing. While most shaking is just over excitement leaving them gasping for breath, awareness that disease may be lurking can be managed with regular health checks. For those dogs that always must chew on everything, or poke their noses where they shouldn’t, think ahead and clear anything that they may be able to investigate. All chemicals, small parts of toys, and medications need to be well out of reach. Dogs are every bit as curious as a cat, so we have to protect them from themselves.

Cost of Shaking When Breathing Inward

If the shaking is a happy reaction or perhaps anxiety, where retraining can help, the costs for treatment may just be your time. But an average cost for a condition causing shaking in your dog can range from $350 for Addison’s disease to $4000 for kidney problems.

Shaking When Breathing Inward Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Joe brown
Dashound and pompec mix
19 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Hi, my dog joe brown is very old old and is about 19 in dog years. Whenever he breathes in he shakes (shivers) but once he breathes out it stops. I could just imagine how uncomfortable that must be. While breathing in his head also tenses and shakes as well and as a result he lifts it up everyime he breathes in so it does not keep hitting the ground when he is shaking. Although, when I stroke his head the shaking does not stop but he does not life his head. He mostly shakes when lying down or sleeping Any idea on what it is? how I could help? Should I Ask our vet for meds for him? Please let me know 👍🏽Thank you -GG

Michele King
Dr. Michele King, DVM
293 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Without examining Joe Brown, I can't say what might be going on, but your veterinarian might be able to offer him some help. He is an old guy, and he may be suffering from an infection, an aging condition, or a tumor. Either way, an exam with his veterinarian might shed light on something that might help. I wish him all the best.

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Bluetick Coonhound
3 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms


My three year old Bluekick Coonhound mix has been shaking(shivering) when he inhales,it started about two days ago. Sometimes he shakes pretty badly, but it calms down when I stroke his back and makes him relaxed. Currently we are in process of relocation from NY to WA, and he had to fly on airline's cargo and now we have been staying at a hotel until our new house becomes ready to move in. Is it anything to do with him feeling anxiety?

Michele King
Dr. Michele King, DVM
293 Recommendations
Thank you for contacting us about Skipper. I'm not able to examine him, but it sounds feom your email like he should be exained by a veterinarian. He may be having anxiety, but it would be a good idea to make sure that he isn't having any respiratory issues that need to be treated. You should be able to find a reputable clinic near you by talking to people in the area, or through an internet search. I hope that he does well, and that the rest of your move is uneventful.

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Shih Tzu
2 years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

My dog is shivering while she inhales, also i have noticed her lack of wanting to play and lack of appetite.

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Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1823 Recommendations
There are various causes for a dog to shake when inhaling but most commonly it is associated with pain which may be due to a foreign body, poisoning, abdominal pain among other causes; if you are noticing this symptom in Porscha, you should visit your Veterinarian immediately for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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