dog shake imageSometimes our dogs shake; from great big body rocks when they have been for a swim (the closer to you the better!), to tiny trembles, either all over or just in one limb. But why do they do it and should we be concerned?

Firstly, we should mention epilepsy.  This is a relatively common condition and it is one which many people worry about if their dog starts to vibrate.  Full-on fitting is easy to identify; your dog will fall to the floor, their whole body will convulse, they will be unresponsive, they may foam at the mouth and lose bowel or bladder control.

These episodes generally only last 30 seconds to a minute and you should seek veterinary care immediately.  Although it is less common, it is possible to have ‘focal’ epileptic attacks where only one part of the body is affected, sometimes just the head or one leg and the dog is usually conscious and responsive throughout.  With either problem, you should try to video any episode and take them to your vet as soon as possible.

Some dogs are particularly prone to whole body shivers when they are anxious, scared or excited, especially small and well-muscled breeds like Jack Russell Terriers.  Although it is worth speaking to your vet about this kind of shaking, rarely is it a big problem and it is just an outward expression of how they are feeling.

In older dogs, trembling limbs can be a sign of arthritis and pain, especially if it happens just after they get up from a rest or after they have exercised.  If your dog seems stiff, less inclined to walk as far as they used to, and their legs occasionally tremble, you should take them to your vet for a check-up.

Some poisons can make dogs shake, the most common being chocolate, but nicotine from cigarettes or e-cigarettes, and xylitol will also cause tremors.  If your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t and they start to develop palpitations, call your vet immediately.

Very occasionally shaking or trembling can be a sign of disease and, although most are uncommon, this is worth considering in a dog whose shaking is frequent, constant or worsening.  Conditions include; Addison’s Disease, inflammatory brain disorders, distemper, occasionally liver or kidney failure and, although it is rare, ‘White Dog Shaker Syndrome’, also known as ‘Generalised Tremor Syndrome’.  Low blood sugar can also cause shivering and even convulsions, but there is usually an underlying disorder present.