There are many reasons why puppies shake. Some can be a direct result of a potentially life-threatening underlying health concern, while other reasons can simply be because your puppy just felt like shaking. Puppies are weird like that.
Whether you believe that your puppy is shaking because of underlying health issues or simply because they wanted to, you should be sure. The only way to be one hundred percent sure is to contact your puppies’ veterinarian as soon as possible.
It is better to be safe than sorry!
Here is a picture of one of my client’s dogs. She was an obedient, playful, fun-loving dog, but there was something awfully peculiar about her. Whenever she was in my care she would shake and shake as her life depended on it. I asked the owners if they were aware of this condition and they replied, “Yes, we don’t know why she shakes but apart from the shaking from time to time, she seems to be a perfectly normal and healthy puppy”.
I found this to be a bit strange. Little did I know, puppies shake for so many different reasons that it can sometimes be extremely difficult to pinpoint exactly why they do this.
In order to help my client and potentially find out what the puppy’s problem was, I read articles, watched videos, and completely engulfed myself in the canine anatomy to discover exactly why puppies shake. I have compiled a list of all the reasons why puppies shake in order of least harmful (don’t worry about it) to most harmful (get the vet on the phone).
Here are some of the most commonly found reasons why puppies shake.
Why Do Puppies Shake?
To Dry Off Their Fur
Puppies and dogs do this whenever they are wet. This is simply a tactic that dogs practice to get excess water out of their fur or off of their skin. This is commonly seen on larger more hairy dogs but, can also be seen to occur in smaller dogs.
This is completely normal for dogs to do. You do not need to worry about it.
Wake Up Routine
Puppies shake immediately after waking up just as a way to get themselves together. Does this sound familiar? Your puppy wakes up, stretches, yawns, and shakes a bit before you guys go on your usual walks or before their morning breakfast bowl.
This shake usually lasts for about 1-3 seconds but can happen several times throughout the day.
This is also a completely normal activity for your dog.
What’s your dog’s morning routine? Let us know in the comments section down below at the end of this article.
Ever noticed how hot a dog’s body can be at times. Did you think to yourself that maybe they have a fever? Well, did you know that the average temperature for a dog hovers just above that of a human? Normally, a dog’s temperature is somewhere between 101 and 102.5 whereas a human’s normal body temperature ranges between 97.6 and 99.6.
But, what does this mean?
Knowing this information, it is rational for us to assume that puppies can get overwhelmingly colder, much faster than we can as humans. This theory is especially certain for puppies with little to no fur or body fat to protect them from the elements.
This could have been Venti’s problem. Working in Arkansas, between the months of January to April the temperature usually kept a range of 30° to 55° outside. This would be about 70° colder than that of their normal body temperature. Also, it being extremely windy on some days could have helped to cause her to shake or tremble even more than she already does.
Therefore, one possible reason why puppies shake can be due to them being cold. This is also a reason why most humans shake. Shaking or trembling when being cold is just a puppy’s homeostatic system responding to the outside elements. Shaking causes the body to create warmth and heat.
If you notice that your dog is shaking or trembling due to the cold this is completely normal. The shake usually lasts until a correction to the temperature is made.
Here’s what you can do about it:
Adjust the temperature inside your car or home to something a bit warmer that both of you can enjoy.
Try using a self-warming dog pad (link to Amazon) in your puppy’s bed or crate. These products work by capturing your puppy’s body heat and radiating it back to the warmth source. This is especially useful for dogs living in much colder regions.
Exercising can increase your puppy’s temperature very quickly as well. A simple 5-minute jog or run usually gets the job done.
Consult a veterinarian if the shaking lasts longer than a few hours, especially after you have tried adjusting the temperature, using the warm blankets, or exercising have failed you.
Nervous or Scared
Being nervous or scared can also elicit uncontrollable urges to rapidly shake back and forth in puppies.
Fireworks, a trip to the vet’s office or Petco usually gives my dogs shaky legs. Putting your dog in an uncomfortable situation that is unfamiliar to them or a situation that they know will result in an unfavorable outcome can also cause these feelings.
You must be knowledgeable and aware of your puppies’ past. Dogs and puppies can also suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Revisiting uncomfortable memories will force your dog to display actions that may be unfamiliar to you such as uncontrollable barking, shaking and trembling, leash pulling, and other aggressive behaviors.
Here’s what you can do about it:
Calm your puppy down. Rub their head or belly, talk to them softly, or simply embracing them can work wonders on a puppy that is so sacred that it cannot stop shaking.
Calming Treats – Chewable calming treats can be given to help cure a puppy’s shake episodes. We recommend using Zesty Paws Behavior Calming Treats (link to Amazon). Give one to your puppy 20 – 30 mins before putting them in an uncomfortable situation. For me, I give a few to my dogs right before we make our way to regular checkups to the vet’s office. This usually mellows them out a bit so that they’re not so uppity the entire time.
This product is also great for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. Highly recommend!
This YouTube video from a veterinarian provides some really great insight into shaking:
Puppies shake to get the bugs off! If you live in a wooded area where there are lots of grass, nature, and general wildlife, you can expect your puppy to run into a few bugs. Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, flies, lice, and other bloodsucking insects that live in these areas can latch onto your puppy’s skin for a nice dinner.
Not only can these insects attach themselves to your puppy, they can also use their fur for warmth and their blood for nourishment to reproduce. Yes, these insects are completely capable of living inside your puppy’s skin & fur.
Unfortunately, the anatomic structure of a dog’s body does not allow them to scratch certain areas on their bodies. One hard-to-reach spot on your puppy will likely be their lower backs, towards their tail.
Here’s what you can do about it:
Lend a puppy a hand! If you notice that your dog is shaking their bodies relentlessly, then try to give them a scratch in the areas they just can’t get on their own. Though this may only halt your puppy’s shaking momentarily.
Living in heavily wooded areas with medium to long-haired pups can be a scratch disaster waiting to happen. You must keep your puppy’s fur well groomed and cut short in order to easily identify and eliminate bloodsucking insects that may be using your puppy’s body as a host.
Investing in an at-home puppy hair clipper (link to Amazon) will allow you to knock a ton of hair off their bodies without forking up a ton of cash later next month, or the next month, or the next month, well, you get the idea.
Also, utilizing a combination of flea & tick medicine combined with an oatmeal-based pet shampoo (link to Amazon) is a powerful duo your puppy will be sure to thank you for later. This combo is guaranteed to eliminate any puppy’s uncontrollable shaking due to an unpleasant itch.
Shaking Puppy Syndrome
Remember Venti from earlier in the article. Later on, it was discovered that venti had a version of shaking puppy syndrome when she was just a wee little lad. She has since outgrown this disease and no longer is seen shaking.
Shaking puppy syndrome, otherwise known as Hypomyelination is a disease that takes control of a puppy’s central nervous system. This disease has two forms which are the PLP mutation and the FNIP2 mutation. The PLP mutation which is commonly found in English Springer Spaniels is very fast-acting and is progressive at attacking a puppy’s CNS. This condition can result in the early death of puppies.
A more observed, less severe version is the FNIP2 mutation which is commonly found to be present in Chow Chow and Weimaraner puppies. Although this version of the disease is still much of a concern, it is not life-threatening. It is even possible for puppies to outgrow this and eventually live normal adult dog lives.
To learn more about shaking puppy syndrome (Hypomyelination) check out this article by www.vetgen.com where they go into greater detail about the disease.
Here’s what you can do about it:
Remaining current on vet visits and checkups can help out tremendously. Currently, there is no cure or treatment for shaking puppy syndrome, but always allowing your vet to keep a close eye on worsening conditions in your puppy won’t be a bad idea.
Toxins (Illergic Reaction)
If you suspect that your puppy has come into contact with a highly toxic substance, your first steps are to remain calm and call your puppy’s vet as soon as humanly possible. If you find that you are not able to reach your vet for any reason, call the number below.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control: (888) 426-4435
The line is available to help you 24 hours a day to guide you over the phone as to what steps should be taken next.
Certain drugs, fruits, plants, or other potentially poisonous substances can cause out-of-control shaking or seizures to develop in your puppy. Grapes, chocolate, xylitol are a few of the major substances your puppy should never come into contact with. A puppy’s stomach is not designed to break down these substances to be digested. Rather, their stomach acids, when in conjunction with these substances can create a new substance that seeks to destroy your puppy from the inside out.
Is it normal for a puppy to shake?
A shaking puppy can be a completely normal occurrence. Puppies can shake for a wide variety of reasons including; but not limited to, being scared, cold, itchy, wet, or even sick. Some reasons are easy to determine for yourself, while on the other hand, others may require special attention from that a veterinarian to conclude the result.
Why do puppies shake in their sleep?
This can be a sign of discomfort, pain, irritability, restlessness, sickness, or simply a bad puppy dream. Though you may not be able to precisely pinpoint the reason for your puppies’ shake episodes while they sleep, it is important to observe them as they awake in order to get a better understanding of some of the possible reasons.
Are you observing that your puppy continues to shake even after their nap is done? Is their sleep shaking a one-off type of deal or does this occur often? Does your puppy shake throughout the night or for a few short seconds?
All these questions must be asked in order to properly identify the reason for your puppies’ shaking and to hopefully solve it in the near future.
Yes, puppy shaking can be completely normal and harmless while it can also be abnormal and very harmful. Confusing? We know! Puppies can be like that sometimes.
Whatever the reason you determine for your puppies’ shaking, remember, knowing is only half the battle. The rest of the battle should include you, as the puppy’s owner, coming up with solutions to your new best friend’s problem.
I hope that this article has been informative and has helped you to find a rational, yet conclusive answer as to why your puppy shakes.
Here is a list of related, hand-picked articles that will hopefully help to guide you along your puppy’s health journey: