6 Reasons Your Dog May Shiver

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

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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  • David Lee

    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.

  • Jessica Traum

    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.

  • Nyla Cruz

    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

      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

  • Oriana

    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.

    • veronica

      Has he got better because my dog is doing the same thing right now & I don’t know what’s wrong with him? :(

    • Linda Lachman

      I have a cocker & he & I both have bad allergies. WHEN Seasons change I feel limp & nauseous- & he acts like that too ,& he shivers also-may be ear problems-will keep an eye on him hoping it will subside as usual!!!

  • LaToya Keeling

    I have a 6 year old peekapoo who I suspect is experiencing seizures. I woke up in the middle of the night and saw my dog shaking. His back legs were weak and he couldn’t stand. He was also panting excessively. I thought he was going to vomit but a small amount of drool came out of his mouth. I started adding fish oil to his food thinking that would help ease the seizures but it doesn’t seem to be working. Are there any other natural treatment options? And is what I described a seizure?

  • lashundra

    I have a 8 week old shin tzu an he started shaking an groaning last night , and again this morning . he can’t walk with out falling . he was just fine a few hours before the first episode . whats going on what can I do

  • Christa

    My 8year old maltese hasnt been eating much for 2 days and slightly shivers as he falls asleep. His behavior is a much calmer and weaker than before. Should I be alarmed?

  • Crystal

    I have a poodle mixed with a cocker spaniel and he’s been shaking so much ever since we brought him back from a walk. But he’s kinda old and hasn’t been in long distance walks and he’s losing the ability to move his hind legs and walks funny. What could it be?

  • Matt

    My two year old, 30 lb, Rottweiler / German shepard / something else small, has been shivering maybe three times over this past week. Always in the evening. She shivers fairly intense, walks around with her tail between her legs & ears pinned back. I noticed she’s starting to pant when standing up.
    I live in Kansas City and it’s currently 65 degrees out @ 930p. So it’s not the weather.

    Any insight would be much appreciated.

  • Kirby

    I have a 2-3 year old treeing walker coonhound that I adopted a few months ago. She shivers in 50 degree weather when I wouldnt expect her to be cold yet. Is this common?

    • oscar

      As much as we want to keep our pets in the house, sometimes we are obliged to give them a corner in the back yard. In order for them to be safe and healthy we need to find the best dog house for hot weather and the best dog house for cold weather, as dogs can be very sensitive to the changes in the weather conditions. So how can we get the best of both worlds?! We need the best dog house for hot weather to keep our pet cool in the summer and the best dog house for cold weather to keep our pet healthy in the winter

  • Lydia

    I have a 8 year old German Shepard cross called Ruby. Sometimes if she ever sleeps with me (usually when my mum goes out for the night), she will be very restless. She pants and shakes and won’t let me sleep. I don’t know if this is anxiety based or a learned behaviour due to wanting attention / not wanting me to sleep!

    Does anyone experience anything similar?

  • Juanita

    We have four dogs in the house two males a boxer, and a jug mix and two females boxer and hound and one of the females the boxer is in heat and we’re breeding the two boxers but everytime the jug and female are around eachother he whines and shakes. Is that normal why does he shake i think its because he wants her but knows he cant have her although he tries am i right or is there another explanation


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