It’s never fun when you see your sweet little pup quivering and shaking. So what’s the story with that little tremble? And when is it the right time to call your vet?
NOTE: We’re talking about shivering. It’s when your dog can make eye contact and has control of his body, however bad the shakes may be. If your dog is experiencing a full on seizure, with accompanying loss of body control, you better call your veterinarian immediately.
Without further ado, let’s review some of the reasons why your dog might have the shakes.
1. YOUR DOG IS COLD. The most common reason your dog shivers is because she’s cold. This is especially true of little dogs who don’t have a lot of natural insulation to help keep them warm.
2. YOUR DOG IS SCARED OR NERVOUS. Perhaps he’s reacting to an unexpected, dramatic change: maybe a thunderstorm, or fireworks, or travel.
3. YOUR DOG IS EXCITED. Maybe your pup feels the good old fashioned joy of anticipation. She sees that food about to plop into the bowl, or she notices that you’re about to throw her favorite toy clean across the room.
4. YOUR DOG IS GETTING OLD. As dogs age, some develop tremors, usually in their hind legs, but sometimes in their front legs too. These tremors might just be a consequence of getting older, but they might also be a sign of pain. Make sure to reach out to your vet if your senior dog starts to tremble.
5. YOUR DOG HAS YOU ALL FIGURED OUT. Dogs might shiver because they’ve learned the behavior. If you always rush to care for your pup and bathe him in attention when he trembles, it’s possible that he’s picked this up as a lesson. “Want a smooch from Mom? Better get shakin’.”
6. YOUR DOG IS NAUSEOUS. Maybe your dog is feeling motion sickness, or eating too much, or eating the wrong thing. It might be a bad reaction to medication. If your pup is drooling more than usual or seems tired and listless, these might be more signs of nausea. Proper treatment depends on the cause, so check with your vet.
7. YOUR DOG HAS BEEN POISONED. Certain toxins or poisons will make your dog shake: chocolate, cigarettes, xylitol (the sugar substitute found in chewing gum), and more. If you think poisoning might be the cause of your pup’s tremors, call your vet immediately.
8. YOUR DOG HAS GENERALIZED TREMOR SYNDROME. Originally noticed in little white dogs like the Maltese, GTS can occur in any dog. GTS is a bit of a mystery illness, usually starting between 9 months to 2 years of age. Your vet will probably prescribe a corticosteroid. The condition can start to improve in as little as a week of treatment.
9. YOUR DOG HAS DISTEMPER. This is an illness caused by a virus, most common in puppies and younger dogs that haven’t gotten all their shots. Other signs of distemper include eye and nose discharge, fever, or coughing. Distemper can be fatal, so if you suspect distemper, consult with your vet immediately.
Remember, your vet knows best, so use your best judgment as far as turning to an expert for further advice and consultation. After all, we know that when your pup is shivering, the last thing you wanna do is give your little buddy the cold shoulder.