Dog Trembling for No Reason, in Sleep, When Breathing in and after Surgery

Dog trembling for no reason

Involuntary dog trembling manifests as repetitive body movements over which the affected dog has no control. The shaking may be isolated to specific organs such as the limbs or may involve the whole body. In most cases, the trembling is unpredictable with the trembles lasting for an unspecified duration. Below we look at the general causes accompanied by their treatments, the reasons for dog trembling for no reason, in their sleep, after surgery and while breathing in.

Dog Trembling

Dog trembling, shaking, or shivering all involve the persistent movement of the body like you would in cold weather only that in this case, the dog may not be trembling from cold. The causes of trembling in dogs may be as simple as excitement from seeing you and as complex as liver disease. Before we look at these, how do you tell that your dog is trembling?

Signs of Dog Trembling

The signs that your dog is experiencing trembling episodes can be seen in what they do or fail to do. They include:

  • Trembling in the dog’s limbs while at rest
  • Shaking when the dog tries to move
  • Persistent twitching that occurs even during sleep
  • Bouts of shaking involving the whole body
  • Difficulty completing simple tasks such as climbing stairs or jumping
  • Behavioral changes in your dog where they appear anxious whenever subjected to tasks involving movement.

Dog Trembling Causes

Discussed in details herein are the reasons why your dog could be trembling.


This one is the most obvious cause of dog trembling and shivering. Dogs tend to tremble a lot when the weather is cold just like humans. This is easy to identify and deal with as a little warmth will stop the trembling. When it is cold, ensure that your dog is sufficiently warm. You may use dog sweaters or coats. Use blankets to cover them up too. To protect their paws, you can have them wear booties.

Temperature Regulation

When a dog experiences decreasing body temperatures, it may tremble as a way of creating body heat. A very effective method, this is a normal response and is common when a dog has a fever. The body will have its temperature high up and when it attempts to drop, shivering will occur to help in restoring the new elevated temperature set point.

Emotions Induced Trembling

A dog trembling may be as a result of a purge of emotions. A dog may shake if they experience anxiety, fear or excitement such as during thunderstorms, fireworks, lightning or when left alone. A dog will tremble in excitement when they see you come home at the end of the day.

To help your dog grow out of this, you can help him remain calm in situations that cause a surge in emotions. Keep the greetings calm when you are home, assure them when you are leaving and keep them company whenever the weather forecast indicates there might be thunders or lightening.

Attention Seeking

A trembling dog will tend to draw attention and love from the owner. Once a dog notices this, they may use it just to grab their owner’s attention. When the attention is granted, it goes into reinforcing the behavior. Any time the dog is yearning for some attention, they will go into trembling.

You can curb this type of dog trembling by showing affection to your dog regularly. Schedule play time and ignore them whenever they are trembling for no reason. This will help them to unlearn the behavior and prevent its reinforcement.


Pain resulting from chronic conditions or trauma injuries could see a dog trembling. While this may not apply to all dogs, there are those that will exhibit trembling as one of the symptoms of pain. This can be dealt with by offering pain relief solutions.


One of the early signs exhibited by a dog that has consumed toxins is trembling. A dog will tremble when they consume antifreeze, snail bait, chocolate, cigarettes, and xylitol.

In addition to dog trembling, other signs of poisoning may include drooling, seizures, diarrhea, vomiting, and disorientation. Consumption of toxins and poison requires immediate attention. Call your veterinarian or the nearest animal poison control center immediately you suspect poisoning.


Canine distemper is a canine condition caused by a virus. It is common in puppies and adolescent dogs that are yet to complete their vaccinations. Distemper in dogs will cause tremors in addition to other symptoms such as coughing, fever, nasal and eye discharge.

For treatment of the condition, supportive care is necessary and is aimed at helping the body fight off the virus. This may include the use of antibiotics, physical therapy, airway dilators and administering a lot of fluids to help curb any resulting dehydration.


There are many reasons why a dog may be nauseous. Pregnancy, overeating, motion sickness, medication, consumption of toxic substances, dietary indiscretion and diseases such as liver and kidney diseases are some.

In addition to restlessness, yawning, lip-smacking and excessive drooling and lip smacking, a nauseous dog may tremble. To stop nausea its cause has to be dealt with.

Generalized Tremor Syndrome

Also referred to as shaker syndrome, this condition is a disorder that causes full body trembling in dogs. It is most common in middle-aged dogs and white hair coat pups although any dog can experience it. The condition is mostly associated with mild central nervous system disease.

During the episodes, the dog remains alert but may experience difficulty in walking. The resulting trembling does not cause pain and the condition is not known to have any impact on the patient dog’s mental state.

Weak Muscles

Also referred to as atrophy, weakness of the muscles may see your dog’s hind legs trembling. This could be caused by muscle weakness that develops with age and is therefore common in senior dogs. Although mostly affecting the hind legs, this kind of dog trembling could also affect the front legs. In most cases, the trembling has no effect on how the dog walks.

Other Causes of Dog Trembling

Additional causes of trembling in dogs include:

  • Medical conditions such as imbalance, kidney failure as well as some neurological conditions.
  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Hunger
  • Brain cell degeneration

Dog Trembling For No Reason

Although you may get the impression that a dog is trembling for no reason, there always is. Only that the cause may not be so obvious especially if your dog seems fine. As indicated above, a dog may tremble as a learned behavior. This is where they notice attention is showered on them whenever they tremble and learn to exercise the same so as to gain their care giver’s attention. It is also possible for your dog to tremble as a result of excitement.

Dog Trembling In Sleep

Among some of the reasons that could result in a dog trembling in sleep have been discussed above. These include the various illnesses and pain. However, a perfectly healthy dog could also tremble in their sleep. This is more so if the temperatures are low and they are not warm enough and are thus feeling cold. In addition, your dog could be dreaming.

If they are in motion in their dream, this may be seen as trembling. This could be exhibited together with the rapid movement of the eyes as they sleep. In addition to these, a dreaming dog could give short barks or cry out for a while. All these tend to be quite short-lived.

Dog Trembling When Breathing In

A dog that trembles when breathing in could be experiencing problems related to the malfunction of the breathing system. The dog could be experiencing tracheal collapse. When it happens, the dog is not in a position to hold the airway open at which point trembling may be observed.

Another reason could be your dog experiencing brachycephalic airway syndrome. This is a medical condition experienced by short-faced dogs which makes it hard to breathe. This may result in shaking whenever the dog is inhaling.

Dog Trembling and Panting

Where the dog trembling is accompanied by excessive panting, this indicates that your dog is under stress, intense discomfort or pain. Among conditions that would cause these include a fracture on the limb, tense abdomen that is as a result of severe bloating, extreme stiffness with your pet not wanting to move, pet appearing wobbly. All these are signs that you should visit your veterinarian.

Dog Is Trembling and Lethargic

Lethargy in dogs could be a symptom of many different things. Where the dog is trembling and lethargic yet does not show any of the serious conditions, you could observe them for a while. In most cases, the reason for the trembling will also be the reason why your dog is lethargic. Deal with this first and if after 24 hours your dog still seems lethargic, won’t go for a walk and won’t also eat, take him to the vet.

Dog Trembling After Surgery

The post-operative season of a dog requires ultimate care. Whether it was a spay, dental or cesarean section dog surgery, you ought to be familiar with what to expect. One of these is shaking or trembling. According to, this is normal within the first24 hours. It is as a result of the anesthesia wearing out and should resolve within this duration. Put into place the post-operative instructions given and if you are concerned about it talk to your veterinarian.

Whenever a dog is trembling, other associated symptoms such as limping, vomiting, fear, not eating, shaking of the head or legs can help identify the actual cause. These should be addressed to help stop the dog trembling. Note them down and give your veterinarian a call so they can direct you on what to do.



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