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6 Reasons Your Dog May Shiver

Posted on: January 31st, 2013 by

This dog is shivering because it’s cold, learn the other reasons dogs shiver.Dr. Marc is a veterinarian guest blogger for pet insurance provider, Pets Best.

First let’s start with clarifying what shivering (or trembling) is versus what a seizure is.

A seizure is when the dog suddenly loses all body control, paddling their legs, jerking or convulsing. It can last for a number of minutes. To learn more, visit Dr. Fiona’s blog post on dog seizures.

Shivering is when a dog can make eye contact with you and respond to you, but its body is shaking. Shivering can vary from minimally, to a lot, but the dog still has control of its body.

6 Reasons Your Dog May Shiver

1) The most common reason a dog shivers is due to being cold. A normal dog’s temperature may be as high as 102.5 F. Since a dog’s body is warmer than a persons, just touching your dog won’t accurately let you know if they’re cold or not. So be careful during the winter months with dogs being outside, especially little dogs.

2) Dogs shiver due to anxiety or fear. Thunderstorms, fireworks, travel, or any type of environmental change can cause dogs anxiety or fear. If your dog has severe shivering and anxiety in these situations, they may benefit from an anti-anxiety medication during the stressful periods. Your veterinarian can help you evaluate your therapeutic options.

3) Dogs shiver with excitement. For example there may be a squirrel outside they really want to go chase. Or before being fed, they see the food going in the bowl and they start shivering with anticipation.

4) Dogs shiver because it’s a learned behavior. This occurs when a dog shivers and it results in a desired response. For example, every time Fluffy shivers, mom says, “poor Fluffy.” Fluffy then gets picked up, wrapped in a blanket and showered with attention. Fluffy quickly learns that just by shivering she gets the attention she wants.

5) Shivering can result from medical and physiologic problems. The pain or illness can cause dogs to shiver. It’s important to find the underlying problem so that it can be addressed. In addition to shivering from the pain, the pain itself can induce anxiety in the dog, resulting in more shivering.

6) There are also some toxins that can cause a convulsive response in the animal. This convulsive like behavior could be misconstrued as shivering, when in reality it may be a much more serious issue.

If your dog’s shivering seems out of the ordinary, or like it’s resulting from a serious issue, you need to visit your veterinarian. They can help if there is a medical issue or possibly prescribe medication to help.

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5 Comments

  1. David Lee says:

    Be interested to know common shivering is amongst dogs? I have a Welsh Terrier who shivers and stretches alot. We’ve kind of got used to it now but hadn’t equated it to many of the points you mentioned. I get the anxiety thing and usually on fireworks nights we give him some tablets to calm him a little. I think this happens with alot of dog owners.

  2. Jessica Traum says:

    The seizure described above is what we used to call a Grand Mal seizure. It is the most extreme kind. There are, however, many different forms that a seizure can take, and not all of them end up in unconsciousness. I don’t know if thembllng is a sign of seizure, but this definition is not comprehensive enough, in my opinion. I have been treating and living with an epileptic dog for 5 years, so my comment comes from this experience, and what other dog owners have shared with me about their dogs with seizures.

  3. Nyla Cruz says:

    My dog does not eat at what we expect him to. He sometimes gets a red thing sticking out of his bladder. While I was cleaning he threw up please give me advice and tell me if you think something is inside of him. Also when he is done eating he makes a weird noise.

    • T Sullivan says:

      Nyla Cruz, please take you dog to the vet. If you think your dog has swallowed and can see it sticking out of his anus, you shouldn’t be wasting time on here. Either see if you can help remove it or take him to the vet

  4. Oriana says:

    I have jack Russell, when I noticed this afternoon he refused to jump up or run up or down the stairs like he always does all day. He will usually jump up into your arms if he wanted or if you asked him if he wanted to be picked up. He was going backwards against the wall and kept pushing himself against my legs. I then noticed him trembling and would not let me touch him or pick him up, plus his groaning. I don’t if his been bitten or injured his leg or if eaton anything in the bushes around the pool. Can you please help me. Vey greatful.

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