Just as you shiver when you feel the cold, your dog shaking may be his way of trying to keep warm. Alternatively, it could be he’s had a fright or is feeling stressed, because he’s tired and his muscles are weakened, or because he’s hungry. If your dog starts shaking uncontrollably, first make sure he’s warm and well fed, and give him time to rest and calm down. If the shaking continues, however, it could be a sign of more serious problems that may need veterinary attention.
Uncontrollable shaking may be localized, particularly in the back legs, or affect the whole body. If your dog develops a chronic tremble, you’ll need to get the vet to investigate. Before you do, consider his behavior and health over the last few days. Make a note of whether his appetite or thirst have increased or decreased, whether his bowel and bladder movements have altered in frequency or consistency, and check whether his muscles feel stiff. Let your vet know if he’s seemed more fearful or anxious than normal, or if he’s been whining or shown any other signs of being in pain. This will help your vet determine the cause of his shaking.
Puppies and unvaccinated dogs are most prone to distemper. Early symptoms include a fever spike, coughing, listlessness and a loss of appetite. These symptoms can be mild and go unnoticed, though. You may not notice anything is wrong until the watery discharge from your dog’s eyes becomes thick and yellow and your dog may suffer vomiting and diarrhea. If distemper isn’t caught at this stage, shaking muscles, slobbering and seizures may result when the brain becomes infected, a stage of the disease called encephalitis. Although your vet may be able to treat your dog with antibiotics and seizure suppression drugs, physical therapy and airway dilators, you should treat this as an emergency, as distemper is the biggest cause of death from infectious diseases in dogs.
White Shaker Dog Syndrome
Although white shaker dog syndrome, also known as generalized tremor syndrome (GTS) or steroid responsive tremor, was first observed in small white dogs, it isn’t confined to specific breeds. It can hit any breed of dog at any age, with no currently known cause. Fortunately, the tremors respond to corticosteroids often within a week, so this condition is easily managed.
If your dog is shaking uncontrollably and he’s listless, vomiting or slobbering, he may have ingested something toxic or poisonous. Other signs to watch out for are smacking his lips more than normal and hiding from you. A trip to the vet is in order to ensure he hasn’t eaten anything that life threatening or that could cause lasting damage.
Uncontrollable shivering can be a warning sign of an impending seizure. During the first stage of a seizure, your dog may tremble and whine, and seem anxious, staying close to you. He may even seem clumsy, as if blinded, and become unresponsive you your voice or touch. This can go on for a few hours before the shaking becomes more pronounced, his muscles stiffen and he collapses to the floor, his muscles contracting, teeth chomping and drooling.
The fit may last just a few seconds or several minutes, and although it can be a frightening experience for both of you, you should remain calm. Don’t try to restrain him or put anything in his mouth, but clear the area of anything that could harm him and other animals. When he’s recovering he may seem disoriented, panting, and may still act blinded. Although a single fit in an otherwise healthy dog is no reason to panic, it’s still a god idea to take him to the vet sometime over the next few days to investigate.