Shake and Bark: Why Does My Small Dog Tremble?

If your little dog shakes all of the time, even if it isn’t cold outside, you may wonder why. Small dogs who tremble are not uncommon and pet owners ask us about the reasons for this behavior. Trembling in dogs is caused by several factors, some of which can be physical or behavioral, or both. The Chihuahua is well known for this strange trembling, but why does that happen?

The team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital is here to explain is phenomenon in small dogs and what you can do to address it in your four-legged friend.

Generalized Tremor Syndrome

Some dogs suffer from remor syndrome, which is basically a label for varied conditions that cause trembling in small dogs. You are more likely to see this diagnosis in certain breeds, like Miniature Pinschers and Chihuahuas, but there are other breeds that can be affected. This disorder is caused by multiple factors, but your veterinarian will assess your dog for health conditions that can underpin it, as well as muscle and joint health.

Muscle and Joint Deterioration

From injury to arthritis, if the muscles have weakened, your pet is more likely to shake or tremble because they are not stable. If your pet has suffered an injury, such as a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture, this mobile instability can cause imbalance to the entire physiological structure of the body, leading to some trembling, shaking, or involuntary movement.

If the trembling is localized to a specific area or side of the body, it may be related to an injury or overexertion during exercise. Dogs with chronic joint disease will sometimes shake, too.

Anxiety and Fear

Shaking can be caused in pets who have ongoing anxiety, stress, or phobias. The trembling can be acute and caused by a specific trigger, such as noise anxiety. If your pet is only shaking during loud noise caused by fireworks, thunderstorms, or something similar, then it is likely anxiety related. 

Certain pets have chronic stress when around new people, pets, or situations when they feel less secure. Separation anxiety can be a trigger, which is an intense fear of being left alone. A behavioral consultation can help figure out the source of the fear to find the right treatment. There are several ways we can decrease symptoms to calm your fur friend, from medications to behavior modification and other lifestyle changes.

Medical Condition

There are some diseases and illnesses that can cause trembling in your dog. Some of these include:

  • Neurological condition or injury
  • Seizure
  • Distemper
  • Kidney disease
  • Addison’s disease
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Poisoning

If your pet has suddenly started to shake or tremble, please contact us for an examination and to ensure it isn’t an emergency, such as with toxicity.

Why Does My Small Dog Tremble?

If your dog isn’t shaking due to cold weather (and in that case, they need to be in warmer clothes or inside), then only through a careful examination can we determine the root cause. Some pets are prone to trembling, but it will give you peace of mind to know what’s occurring with your sweet pet.

For more information on trembling in dogs, or to schedule an appointment, please contact our team.