There are many reasons why dogs shake, and dogs have many modes of shaking. It can be a way for them to scratch their ears, wipe away water, or even a means to show excitement. Smaller dogs are more prone to shaking because of their body weight. Sometimes dogs shake because they’re anxious or cold. However, when the shaking turns to a full body tremor, shaking could be a cause for concern. At Anasazi Animal Clinic, we provide urgent care services if your dog suddenly can’t stop shivering. 

What Diseases Cause Shaking in Dogs?

Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Dogs may shake due to cerebellar hypoplasia, a condition caused by incomplete development of the cerebellum. This part of the brain is responsible for coordinating and regulating voluntary muscle movement. First seen in puppies learning to walk, symptoms include:

  • Head bobbing
  • Limb tremors that are aggravated by moving or eating but disappear during sleep
  • Unsteadiness or clumsiness with a wide-based stance
  • Inability to judge distance and disequilibrium which results in falling or flipping over

Shaker Syndrome

Also known as generalized tremor syndrome, shaker syndrome can be diagnosed in dogs of any size, breed, gender, or age. However, medical texts surmise that white-coated dogs are more likely to have shaker syndrome due to their size. 

Shaker syndrome is most common in younger and middle aged dogs versus older dogs.Symptoms include full body shakes that are tied to an inflamed central nervous system. However, the cause has not yet been fully determined.  

Shaking Puppy Syndrome

Shaking puppy syndrome, also known as hypomyelination, is hereditary or predisposed by breed. This central nervous system disease is caused by a lack of myelin production. Myelin is a fatty protective layer that surrounds each nerve. When this layer becomes too thin, nerve impulses become lost and go unregistered, causing malfunctions in coordination.

Typically occurring in puppies as young as 2 weeks old, shaking puppy syndrome will cause your puppy to shake, lose balance, and have trouble walking. If your puppy suffers from this condition, their legs may appear wider when they walk and they might struggle not to fall. 


Also known as Addison’s disease, hypoadrenocorticism is an endocrine disorder that occurs when the adrenal glands fail to produce hormones. The adrenal glands produce steroids—particularly aldosterone and cortisol—that help regulate your dog’s sodium and potassium levels. 

Symptoms of Addison’s disease include:

  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stools
  • Alopecia
  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Dehydration
  • Shaking
  • Weak pulse
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Low temperature
  • Painful abdomen
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hyperpigmentation of the skin

Hypocalcemia and Hypoglycemia

Hypocalcemia is caused by low calcium concentration, while hypoglycemia is caused by low blood sugar. With hypocalcemia, your dog can experience muscle trembling and seizures. With hypoglycemia, your dog can experience muscle twitching and seizures.


Similar to the common cold in humans, which is spread via the air or direct contact, distemper in dogs is a highly contagious disease. Vaccinations are available that need to be boosted every year for puppies. In older dogs, the vaccination only needs to be boosted every three years. At Anasazi Animal Clinic, provide comprehensive care which includes up to date vaccines. 

This potentially lethal disease comes in stages. The first stage shows the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Clear nasal discharge
  • Purulent eye discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord

Stage two produces neurological signs such as head tilt, seizures, and muscle twitching. Because this stage is fatal, if your dog has shown signs of a cold followed by tremors, it may be an emergency. Anasazi Animal Clinic’s emergency services involve a team of at least one veterinarian and several technicians. We have trained personnel on duty six days a week.

Schedule a Wellness Exam Today

When your puppy or dog starts to shake, make sure to rule out behavioral issues such as fear or anxiety before concluding that it is a physical reaction. Keeping your dog’s temperature regulated can also reduce shaking. 

At Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert, we always treat your pets with loving care. If your dog is trembling consistently without reason, or trembling with accompanied symptoms, please contact us right away. We are committed to your pet’s health and safety above all else. 

Photo by Raphael Renter on Unsplash