My Dog is Shaking in Alameda, CA, What Do I Do?

When a dog starts shivering and shaking, it’s scary. Usually, your dog’s shaking is harmless, but this behavior could be a sign a dog is in distress. Here are 8 reasons why dogs shake and how to help your pet if it happens.

1. Seeking Attention

Some dogs shake to get attention. Your dog may shake when it wants food or sympathy from you or just wants you to do something for them.

What can you do?

Be careful not to reward your dog with your attention if you think they’re shaking to get you to notice them.

2. Fear or Anxiety

Dogs are emotional creatures. They sometimes shiver when they’re scared or anxious, for instance, during a thunderstorm or fireworks. They react by shaking or hiding.

What can you do?

When your dog gets anxious, be sure to reassure them. During thunderstorms, move your dog to a quiet part of your house, such as the basement or a bedroom. There are also therapeutic toys available for an anxious dog. These toys make soothing sounds to help calm the dog. Make sure you remain calm. Your dog will pick up on your anxiety and copy your emotions.

You might consider contacting your vet if your dog’s anxiety is bad enough. They can prescribe medication for you to give your dog before situations that can be fearful for them.

my dog is shaking

3. Enthusiasm

Dogs get excited, that is in their nature. Some breeds have intense emotions that cause them to shiver during mealtime or time to go for a walk. This shaking won’t hurt them.

What can you do?

Stay calm and talk in a soothing voice when your dog gets excited.

4. Illnesses

Shivering is often a sign your dog is sick. Here are some common illnesses that cause shaking in dogs.

Chronic kidney failure-Disease or old age can cause your dog’s body not to filter toxins. Signs of kidney failure include:

  • Shivering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Bad breath

Addison’s disease occurs when your dog’s body doesn’t produce enough cortisol, a hormone in the adrenal glands. Cortisol helps your dog’s body deal with stress and regulates blood sugar levels. Common symptoms include:

  • Trembling
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased water consumption
  • Frequent urination
  • Falling over

Distemper-This virus affects puppies who haven’t received all their vaccinations. It attacks the dog’s nervous, respiratory, and digestive systems. Shaking and shivering are common symptoms, along with:

  • Fever
  • No appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting

Epilepsy- Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in dogs that causes seizures. The seizures aren’t harmful to your dog, but it could get injured if it falls or hits an object. If your dog collapses with jerking movements, contact your vet right away. They can give your dog medication to control the seizures.

dog is shaking in alameda, ca

5. Nausea

Dogs can get nauseous from overeating, motion sickness, or some medications like humans. Shaking is often a sign your dog’s tummy is off. Other signs of nausea include:

  • Swallowing air
  • Hiding
  • Licking their lips
  • Yawing repeatedly,
  • Throwing up

What should you do?

If your dog throws up and you know it’s because they overate or from being in the car, comfort them and give their tummy time to get better. Call your vet for instructions if you need clarification on what your dog ate.

6. Pain

Older dogs sometimes shake or shiver due to pain from canine arthritis. This condition causes pain in their joints, legs, and back. You may notice them shaking during walks.

What can you do?

If you suspect your older dog is suffering from canine arthritis, talk to your vet. They can give your dog diagnostic tests to confirm if your dog has arthritis and give your recommendations on how to relieve your dog’s pain.

7. Poisoning

If your dog suddenly starts shaking for no reason, it could indicate they’ve eaten something toxic. Household things that are poisonous to dogs could be:

  • Milk chocolate
  • Cigarettes
  • Fabric softener sheets
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Sugar-free foods and drinks
  • Macadamia nuts

Signs your dog has been poisoned include:

  • Tremors or seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What can you do?

Call Animal Poison Control and your vet immediately if you think your dog is poisoned.

8. Old Age

Older dogs may develop weakness in their legs, causing them to tremble when they walk. It could also be pain or arthritis causing the shivering. If your dog shakes when they walk, talk with your vet, who will check them out.


If you notice your dog is suddenly shaking and trembling, contact your vet to get it checked out. If your dog is ill, getting an early diagnosis is key. Keep track of the times and situations when your dog shakes so that you can explain this behavior to your vet. 

For more information or questions about your dog’s health, please call Providence Veterinary Hospital East at (510) 521-6608 or West at (510) 521-5775.

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Providence Veterinary Hospital & Clinic serve Alameda, CA as well as Oakland, San Leandro, and the surrounding areas with superb veterinary medicine and gentle, compassionate care. We’ve been a part of this community since 1947 when a veterinarian started seeing pets in his home after the end of World War II. He built an animal hospital right under his house, and that’s where we remain to this day (with modern remodeling in 2016, to outfit the hospital with the latest medical technology and equipment, of course!).

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