As humans, we’re accustomed to asking others how they feel to determine how to respond appropriately. When it comes to our furry friends, however, we have to solely rely on their body language to decipher their emotions. That’s why it’s always important to know what may be causing your dog to behave a certain way, so you know how to help them.
Shaking is one behavior that can be difficult for pet parents to pinpoint the cause of -- is it the chilly air, stress, or something more serious that’s causing their dog to shake?
We discuss below the most common causes of shaking, telltale signs the shaking is due to stress, and what you can do to help your dog when they can’t seem to shake off the trembles in stressful situations:
5 Common Reasons Your Dog Is Shaking
There are several reasons why dogs shake, ranging from normal behavior to issues that require veterinary attention. Some of the more common reasons include:
- Cold Weather: Just as you shiver in cooler temperatures, so does your dog. The body tremors help with thermoregulation. If your dog is out in the cold and starts shaking, get them back inside to warmth as soon as possible.
- Excitement: Some dogs shake when they’re excited and happy -- it’s an outward manifestation of a strong emotion. You can typically ignore this reaction as long as your pup doesn’t become overly hyperactive, in which case you should take action to calm them down and reinforce relaxed behavior.
- Pain or Illness: Shaking can be a sign your dog is in pain or suffering from an illness. If there doesn’t seem to be another obvious culprit behind the shaking and your dog is acting out of character in other ways, such as reduced activity level or appetite, contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Old Age: Have you noticed your senior dog’s hind legs trembling when they walk? A dog’s muscles often weaken as they get older, sometimes resulting in shaking.
- Stress and Anxiousness: Shaking is one of the classic signs of stress in dogs. Dogs who become anxious when they are exposed to triggers like car rides, separation, or thunderstorms may shake as a way to relieve their stress. They are quite literally trying to shake off the stress.
Telltale Signs Your Dog is Shaking Due to Stress
Given the range of causes, it can certainly be tricky to determine if your dog is shaking due to stress; however, here are a few telltale signs you can look out for:
- The shaking begins and ends when the stressful situation begins and ends. If your dog trembles uncontrollably during thunderstorms, but is fine after the fact, the shaking was most likely due to stress.
- Additional signs of stress appear. When your dog is anxious and shaking, the behavior is commonly accompanied by additional signs of stress, such as whining, panting, and/or growling.
- Your dog assumes a distinct body posture. When dogs are shaking due to stress, they often pin their ears back and tuck their tail between their legs (like the image above).
REMEMBER: Consult with your veterinarian if you ever have any doubt about what’s the causing the shaking.
How To Reduce Shaking During Stressful Situations
So, you’ve determined your dog is shaking due to stress, what next? Consider the following strategies to help relax your pup and put an end to the shaking as quickly as possible:
- Provide a safe space your dog can escape to. Does your dog start shaking as soon as they hear the first firework go off or thunder rumble? Have a safe space in your house prepared they can pass the time in. Try to find a space that doesn’t have windows, like a large closet, and put your pup’s favorite toys, treats, and blankets in there.
- Give your dog a massage. Massages can relax even the most anxious humans -- and have the same power on our canine friends. Stress can cause tensing of the muscles (hence, the shaking) and massages can help alleviate the tension. Start massaging your pup at their neck and work your way downward with long strokes.
- Opt for a belly rub or back scratch over a hug. When you see your dog shaking, your first instinct may be to comfort them with a hug, but…dogs actually aren’t huge fans of hugs and one may make yours even more stressed. Dogs recognize hugs as intimidating and uncomfortable, as they don’t know what’s going on. Most prefer belly rubs and back scratches instead.
- Try Kradle. We know that every dog is different and manifests stress and fear in different ways. As a calming dedicated brand, Kradle products are carefully formulated to reduce all the signs of stress in your dog -- including shaking.