Why Old Dogs Shake

When a dog feels fear or anxiety, they frequently tremble. 1 There are a few common triggers, like fireworks or thunder, but each dog has their own unique set of them.

If you see that your dog is tense, try your best to reassure them. Use a soothing, calm voice when speaking to them. Try to make a place where they feel comfortable and secure for them. As soon as you can, take your animal companion out of the stressful setting. If not, try your best to reassure them till their anxiety fades.

Remember that some dogs may become aggressive if they feel threatened or uneasy. During these episodes, your normally lovable dog might not be open to being petted. Keep your distance if possible.

Speak to your veterinarian if your dog’s anxiousness is a persistent problem. They may be able to prescribe a drug to help with symptoms during particular stressful situations.

Is my Dog Trembling because of Excitement?

There will be a lot of shaking dogs. This is frequently unimportant, and the puppy’s excitement will typically pass within a few minutes. Dogs that are young or have a lot of energy may take longer to quiet down.

By speaking to your dog in a soothing tone, you can aid in their relaxation. To avoid adding to their enthusiasm, you might also try to move slowly and deliberately.

Is my Dog Cold?

Despite having fluffy coats, dogs can still become cold. It’s possible that your dog is simply shivering if you see them shaking on a cool day.

Try to provide a warm space for your dog to rest and sleep. Put a piece of cardboard under their bed if it is on tile or concrete for more insulation. Ensure that the bed is placed away from windows and any cool drafts.

Your dog could need a sweater or jacket to remain warm during cold spells if they don’t have a thick undercoat.

Older Dogs Tremble

As dogs mature, tremors are common. This is frequently caused by their muscles deteriorating with age. The deterioration of their nervous system can potentially be the cause.

Be sure to take your senior dog in for a checkup with your veterinarian if they suddenly start to notice tremors. There is always a chance that the tremor is a sign of a deeper, more serious problem.

Is my Dog in Pain?

Your dog’s trembling can be a sign of suffering. Tremors brought on by pain frequently come with additional symptoms as well.

Keep an eye out for your dog’s general stance and behavior. Your dog may be limping. Do they appear rigid? Are they agitated?

Dogs in discomfort frequently move about constantly in search of a posture that makes them feel better. They frequently pace and may scream, weep, or even excessively drool. 2

Contact your veterinarian right away if any of these symptoms are present in combination in your dog.

Dog Poisoning

Tremors could be a sign that your dog has consumed something toxic or is experiencing an allergic reaction.

In addition to trembling, a poisoned dog typically displays a variety of symptoms. Depending on the kind of poison the dog has been exposed to, the signs of poisoning can vary, but they may include:

How can you stop a shaky old dog?

My thirteen-year-old Dachshund Bailey has started coming onto my lap and shaking more frequently lately than usual. He’d chosen this practice as a means of expressing himself ever since he’d developed arthritis a few years back “I need to use the restroom outside immediately or I’ll pass out! Even though he had only recently used the restroom, he was now regularly jumping onto my lap and shaking.

I pondered as I gazed into the eyes of my dear friend “What does he say to me? Why is my ancient dog trembling? Being a vet, I was aware of how challenging it may be to identify the source of shaking in an older dog. To be able to assist Bailey, I would need to perform a complete examination and rule out a number of conditions. I’d start with the most frequent causes of senior dogs trembling.

reasons why old dogs shake

There is a fairly large list of illnesses that might induce shaking or trembling in senior dogs, but a few stand out from the others. The following 11 causes of old dogs shaking are listed in no particular order:


The return of the family might nevertheless delight an elderly dog! Sometimes the dog begins to shake or tremble as this eagerness seems to radiate from every pore. In a similar vein, older dogs may experience trembling and shivering just before enjoying their favorite treat or playing with their preferred toy.


The balance of neurotransmitters in the nervous system can be changed by a number of drugs, which might result in tremors as a side effect. Toxins can cause shaking, even if the mechanism is different. Pesticides, chocolate, and xylitol are common culprits.

PRO TIP: To speed up diagnosis and treatment if you fear your dog has consumed a recognized toxin at home, grab the box or container and bring it with you to the clinic.

Addison’s disease

Although dogs between the ages of 4 and 5 are most diagnosed with Addison’s disease, any dog might be afflicted. We included Addison’s illness on our list because it can be fatal if neglected.

In addition to vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, trembling, and hair loss, dogs with Addison’s disease might appear extremely lethargic. The symptoms frequently come and go and are nebulous and nonspecific. When a dog has Addison’s disease, their adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol, a hormone that aids in blood sugar regulation and stress response.

Contact your veterinarian if your dog exhibits any of the clinical symptoms listed above. She’ll probably advise getting your blood and urine checked for disorders including Addison’s disease and others.

Cold (hypothermia)

Your dog could only need a sweater if he suddenly starts to shiver when outside in the yard and the temperature has dropped. Similar to humans, dogs can shiver and shake in the cold. Make sure your dog has cozy bedding and warm clothing during the colder seasons of the year to avoid this.


Numerous medical disorders, including infections, poisoning, liver illness, and kidney disease, to name a few, can result in nausea. Not all dogs who feel queasy will vomit. Additional indications of nausea include:

  • smacking lips
  • shaking
  • panting
  • extra-large swallowing
  • drooling

Contact your veterinarian if your dog is exhibiting symptoms of a stomach ache. Your veterinarian could suggest blood and urine testing to find the cause depending on the history and examination results. In order to identify illnesses like chronic renal disease as early as possible, routine blood work is especially crucial for senior dogs. (Read 7 Tips for Improving Your Dog’s Lab Tests for additional information on gathering lab samples at home.)

Neurologic disease

Tremors and perhaps even seizures can appear in dogs that have specific neurological disorders. On normal testing, it may be challenging to identify central nervous system infection and/or inflammation. For assessment and more advanced testing, your veterinarian could advise referring you to a veterinary neurologist. When a senior dog suddenly begins shaking or trembling, neurologic disease must always be ruled out, but it’s vital to keep in mind that it is just one of many causes for this symptom.

Generalized tremor syndrome (GTS)

However, because it is most frequently found in small, white breeds, this tremor-causing illness is also known as “white dog shaker syndrome” and can affect dogs of any size and color (especially the Maltese, the West Highland White Terrier, and the Bichon Frise). The tremors can only affect the head or they can affect the whole body. Although the reason is unknown, several ideas contend that the immune system may be involved. Prednisone and other steroids are often administered as treatments. Although young dogs are most commonly affected by GTS, symptoms can also be seen in older dogs because dogs exhibit lifetime symptoms.


Your elderly dog may be displaying one of the symptoms of discomfort brought on by canine arthritis if he trembles or shakes, especially in the hind end. Dogs may also experience widespread pain as a result of an accident, an illness, or even a dental condition. Your veterinarian may advise additional diagnostic procedures or offer pain medication depending on the cause of the discomfort. Our detailed guide, How to Relieve Arthritis Pain in Dogs, is a useful tool if arthritis is suspected.


Idiopathic literally translates to “private disease” in Greek, but it is frequently used in medicine to denote “of unknown etiology.” In veterinary medicine, there are several idiopathic disorders that range from seizures to vestibular illness. The phrase can also be used to describe trembling in aged canines.

Unfortunately, like all idiopathic mysteries, idiopathic old dog tremor disease is diagnosed by exclusion. In other words, after ruling out all other possibilities, veterinarians are left with idiopathic disease as the most likely cause.

You may be left with this diagnosis, which is not awful news, if your older dog exhibits trembling rear legs and the issue has not turned into a degenerative neurologic condition and your vet has ruled out other common diagnoses. It is regarded as being innocuous.

Anxiety and fear

Dogs, like humans, can tremble out of fear or worry. Some dogs may be terrified of loud noises, such as thunder or fireworks. Senior dogs are more prone to shake as a result of issues including hearing loss and cataracts, which can affect their confidence and attitude.

Canine cognitive dysfunction

Canine cognitive impairment is another factor contributing to shaking in senior dogs (CCD). CCD can cause dogs to become more tense and restless, particularly at night. See Managing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms, Solutions for additional details on this prevalent ailment that affects senior dogs.

When to see the vet

Nobody knows your dog like you do. Make an appointment with your veterinarian right away if your grey-muzzled buddy is shivering and quivering. Better outcomes nearly usually result from early diagnosis.

Your veterinarian will need to conduct a comprehensive medical examination and collect some crucial data to create a treatment plan “exclude list You can assist your veterinarian in making a more precise diagnosis by paying close attention to your dog’s symptoms. Be ready to respond to inquiries like these:

Is the trembling or shaking episodic, i.e. does it come and go? Or is it constant and ongoing?

2. Does the shaking or trembling vary depending on how active your dog is? Or, is it worse while exertion and better during rest?

We’ve all heard the joke about how your automobile will one day not have the “When you arrive at the mechanic’s shop for the appointment, the symptom you made is already present. The similar thing happens in veterinary medicine too! Make a video of your elderly dog shaking to show the vet in case the patient’s appearance in the examination room differs from that at home. We think it will be really helpful for your veterinarian to see what you see at home. This is an easy assignment because of the contemporary cell phone camera.

What was the underlying cause behind Bailey’s shaking?

I brought Bailey to our hospital for testing to look for some of the issues mentioned above in his case. Thankfully, all of his findings were within acceptable ranges! We discovered that his “old dog trembling” was primarily caused by anxiety and CCD at night. We’ve made some deliberate modifications to our bedtime routine, and I’ve started him on a prescription diet for senior dogs in addition to a soothing supplement. He has significantly lessened his shaking, I’m delighted to report!

What does a dog’s shaking indicate?

When they are aroused or when they anticipate something exciting, many dogs may tremble. Your dog may shake when you play with them, when they see something interesting while out on a walk, or when they welcome you at the door after you have left. Younger dogs are more likely to exhibit shaking with excitement, which is a typical physical response to an intensely happy experience. There is no need to be concerned if your dog occasionally shakes with enthusiasm; the trembling should stop once they are quiet once more. When they are thus eager, keeping things a little more laid-back will help them calm down and should lessen their trembling.

Why do elderly dogs pant and shake?

I enjoy older dogs. I adore their grayish, wrinkled muzzles. Their serene, hazy eyes are beautiful. I adore the knowledge and mellowness most have attained. They have experienced a lot in their life and are typically hard to ruffle.

As dogs age, a lot of things change. Their eyes’ lenses take on a bluish, hazy color. Nuclear sclerosis is a common occurrence that is innocuous and has no negative effects on people’s quality of life. Dogs frequently acquire arthritis, which can cause stiffer stride (owners of elderly dogs should discuss with their vets options to improve mobility). Older canines’ hearing is less acute than it once was. Additionally, older dogs could require more frequent bladder cleanings than their younger counterparts (and they may therefore be more prone to accidents in the house). Older dogs typically sleep more deeply.

Although the eyes can sometimes scare owners of elderly dogs, the most of the other changes often don’t cause too much distress. They also occur in adults and are regarded as a typical aspect of aging.

Two other typical alterations, nevertheless, do frequently raise concerns. Compared to younger dogs, older dogs typically pant more. They often tremble as well. Many individuals have questioned me over the years as to why these two things occur.

There is no easy solution. Two of the least precise symptoms a dog could display include panting and shaking. Anything that could make a person sweat or shake may also make a dog do the same.

There is a typical and, I’m delighted to report, largely benign cluster of circumstances that may contribute to panting. The breathing muscles of the diaphragm and intercostals weaken as dogs mature. Elderly dogs may also be more likely to have extra adipose deposits in their abdomen and on their body wall, which is a fancy way of stating that they may be fatter. As a result, individuals could occasionally find it simpler to pant, which makes short breaths and requires less effort from the chest and diaphragm. Additionally, the diaphragm experiences less resistance when taking these brief breaths.

Additionally, trembling may have relatively harmless causes. You must have seen that elderly folks frequently shake; their hands and mouths may tremor the most frequently. Similar trembling, which most frequently impacts the limbs and jaws, can also happen in dogs. It appears to be related to age-related muscular deterioration and modest nervous system aging.

Older canines appear to react to excitement and adrenaline more strongly. As a result, when an exciting or frightening situation arises, the stimulation of the event may work in conjunction with the aforementioned components to cause or make trembling and panting worse.

You can find comfort in these facts if your senior dog is panting or shaking more. But you shouldn’t relax and lose focus. Trembling and panting may occasionally be indications of a more serious issue.

Sadly, obesity is a prevalent condition among elderly dogs. Even though excessive panting brought on by obesity is not detrimental in and of itself, being seriously overweight can result in many other more serious problems. In addition to heart disease and other respiratory conditions, it can make arthritis and mobility issues worse.

Panting and shaking can both be brought on by pain. An older dog with frequent accidents may have back trouble or arthritis, which affects his quality of life.

Panting can be caused by heart illness and breathing issues such chronic bronchitis, a collapsing trachea, and laryngeal paralysis. Panting can also be brought on by glandular disorders like Cushing’s disease. Additionally, several metabolic problems might make a person tremble and pant. Trembling and panting may be signs of a brain disorder.

The sudden commencement of panting could indicate a very significant issue. Panting is a typical symptom of gastric dilatation with volvulus, also known as GDV and bloat, and is occasionally the only one. This illness, which is more prevalent in older, large dogs, is of the utmost emergency caliber and can result in death within hours of improper treatment.

The last possible explanation for panting in older dogs is cognitive deterioration. Dementia-related panting may mostly happen at night, and it may be accompanied by restlessness and the dog moving to unusual parts of the house. However, keep in mind that bloat can cause restlessness and happens most frequently at night if your dog suddenly starts displaying these characteristics.

There is no assurance that an aging dog’s panting and trembling are harmless, even though many of these behaviors are caused by benign conditions. Any senior dog owner who notices their pet trembling or panting should take them to the clinic.