Diagnosing an Involuntarily Shaking Dog

A shaking dog may be express joy or excitement, or he might just be getting rid of water from his fur. However, an involuntarily shaking dog may be suffering from hypothermia, or can indicate that he is in a lot of pain or in shock. Diagnosing a shaking dog is essential in finding the right treatment and preventing further complications that may result from this condition. You can diagnose dog shaking at home judging by some additional symptoms. Alternatively, your vet can perform a more complex examination. The main causes of shaking in dogs are hypothermia, hyperthermia, pain, stress, fear, elevated blood sugar or seizures.

Exposure to Extreme Temperatures

If your dog has been staying in cold weather or in a cold room, he may have a low body temperature or hypothermia. Hypothermia can be fatal, if you fail to warm up your pet in a timely manner.

A dog has a body temperature ranging between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below 100 may cause shaking and hypothermia. Adult dogs can maintain their body temperature normal even in colder conditions. However, puppies don’t have this capacity and they can get hypothermic.

If you notice shaking in your dog and he has been exposed to cold environmental conditions, you need to warm him up with blankets or lukewarm water.

On the other hand, if your dog has been exposed to sun or excessive heat, he may suffer from hyperthermia. Fever may also cause hyperthermia. The dog will be shaking due to the chills. You can decrease your dog’s temperature by applying cold compresses. Don’t use ice cubes, as these may have the adverse reaction and cause your dog to heat up even more.

Low Blood Sugar

Shaking can be induced by a sudden decrease of the dog’s blood sugar. Hypoglycemia may be caused by the lack of food in the dog’s system. If your dog hasn’t eaten for a long time, he may have a low glucose level. You may also notice that he's lethargic and has pale gums. You can increase this by administering your dog 1 tbsp of honey or maple syrup. Rubbing the honey or syrup against your dog’s gums may speed up the assimilation of sugar.

Psychological Factors

A dog can shake when under stress or fear. Identify the fear or stress causing factor and remove it from your dog’s environment.


Extreme pain can induce shaking in dogs. Try to detect if your dog is suffering from any injuries, tooth decay or look for other symptoms that may point to a disease. Dog shaking can also be caused by seizures or when the dog is in shock.

If you cannot diagnose the cause of your dog’s shaking, consult your vet. The vet will perform a physical examination and run some blood tests to determine the cause. Dog shaking can have severe consequences if you don’t act immediately. Your dog may lose consciousness and have brain damage if suffering from hypothermia or hyperthermia.