Why Do Small Dogs Shake?

You go to your friend or family member’s house who has a small dog and you look at them funny […]

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You go to your friend or family member’s house who has a small dog and you look at them funny because they are shaking nonstop. You ask their owners if something is wrong with their little dog yet they simply say, “oh no, they’re perfectly fine!” with a big smile on their faces, yet it is still in the back of your mind on the fact that they are shivering. I have personally wondered this question myself and wanted to see as to why this was.Small dogs shaking can either be a good or bad thing. Typically, a dog has a lot of adrenaline or excitement from wanting to do something and they release this through shaking. This also may occur if they are stressed, sick or fearful over a certain situation occurring around them.It is important to know how we can help our small dogs out with shaking, especially when it is cold outside or they are afraid. We have more than plenty of resources in this article in order to ensure your pooch will be well-taken care of when this happens.

They Might Be Cold

Although most dogs have fur on themselves, they still are prone to being cold. Small dogs wind up getting cold faster due to them being so low on the ground, as it is well-known that heat rises. This is why you will find many little dogs under covers a lot of the time. However, some dogs, such as huskies, are built to withstand extreme weather. Dogs who have much thinner coats, like a smaller breed, need more protection; especially during those winter months or late at night, when no activity is going on and the temperature drops.If you have no other choice but to keep your animal outside during the times you are not home, there are some preventative ways you can ensure they are remaining as warm as possible in the list down below. Just make sure you watch out for signs of hypothermia, such as shivering, trembling, slowing down, reluctant walking, “drunk” walking or feeling the need to hide and burrow. If you are unsure, it is best to take them to the animal specialist for proper diagnosis.

  • Having a winter coat or sweater, depending on the weather
  • Providing a dog house to prevent wind from entering
  • Having a heated bed or self-warming blanket
  • Paw protection or boodies

Little Dog’s May Be Fearful Or Stressed

One of the many ways you can tell if your dog is stressed or feeling some sort of fear is when they shake. Their tale’s will be tucked in between the legs and your pup will look at the person that they are most comfortable with confiding in and have a worried look in their eyes. You may also notice some panting, having an inability to calm down or just overall hide from said noise or person.What causes stress in dogs and how can I best prevent this from happening, you may ask? A lot of things, such as:

  • Delivery or maintenance people
  • Visiting the groomers or veterinarians office
  • Loud voices or yelling
  • Dogs fighting
  • Visitors within the home
  • Taking a bath
  • Some sort of punishment
  • Small children
  • Loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks


  • Continuing to engage with them daily
  • Keeping the same routine
  • Creating a safe place for your pet
  • Be a calm person
  • Play calming music

Shaking Off Excess Water

If your dog is just getting out of the bath or going for a swim, what do they do? They shake excessively! Our immediate reaction is to tell them to stop and dry them off with a towel, but it is good when this happens to our pups. In doing so, shaking removes up to 70% of water on their skin and can prevent hypothermia. Just make sure you are not near them while they are needing to shake some of that water off.However, many people do not like them getting your entire bathroom or area wet. When this happens, remember to immediately close the curtains by isolating the shaking to the tub. If you are brave enough, let your pooch take a shower with you or get a bathing suit on and have some fun while you clean them off in the tub or outside! They might enjoy it more than you think due to the bonding experience you’re giving them.

Old Age

Another reason as to why small dogs shake is due to old age. Do not be alarmed if they start to shake constantly after not shaking the majority of their lives. This is completely normal for a dog to do. However, it may also be a sign that something is wrong, such as joint pain, muscle tremors, which is a repetition muscle relaxing and contracting with one another, or some other health issue. If this is the case, taking them to their veterinarian to determine an underlying issue would be the best option for your dog.Some sicknesses your dog may have that causes shivering or shaking:

  • Muscle tremors, which can cause hypoglycemiadistemper, inflammatory brain disease or Addison’s disease
  • Sickness from eating toxic food or medications
  • Any seizures, which may cause them to shake, bite their tongues, collapse randomly or have foam at the mouths
  • Generalised terror syndrome, which is an inflammation of the cerebellum and can be treated either inpatient or outpatient depending on how severe it is

Muscle Weakness

Keeping your dog’s muscles strong is one of the main keys to mobility and comfort. Typically, a dog’s legs, mostly their hind legs, will be shaking if their muscles are weakened. In this, it is important to do these 5 simple things in order to ensure they are keeping their bones as sturdy as possible throughout all stages of life:

  1. Exercise daily in order to ensure their bones and hearts remain strong
  2. Proper nutrition, as some imbalances will cause dogs to tremble
  3. Maintaining a healthy weight will help your dog to not become obese
  4. Visiting the doctor each year
  5. Provide dog-friendly supplements

Your Small Dog Is Excited

When you are getting ready to go on a big trip, do you have a huge boost of excitement and notice some sort of trembling involved? The same goes with your canine as you come back from a long day of work, ask if they are wanting to “go for a walk” or even if some family member that they are familiar with comes over for a while. Ensuring you pay less attention to your pup until they calm down, especially at a younger age who has a lower-impulse control, would be the best option until they learn to control themselves better.

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Shaking?

Seeing as how you are on here wondering why small dogs shake, you also may be wondering how you can prevent them from shaking the majority of the time. After all, our fur babies are like our very own children!Although we cannot completely prevent the shaking from happening, there are a few activities we can do for them, but one of the most important things we can do is to continue to ensure our “kids” that they are well loved and cared for through us, especially if there is something big happening within the family.

  • Exercising your pup often
  • Help them stray away from any toxic snacks, especially cheap doggy snacks that has no nutritional value
  • Making sure they are comforted when any life change happens
  • Keep them warm, as mentioned above
  • Ensuring they’re relaxed
  • Going to regular visits to the vet


Whether your fur baby is stressed, getting older or excited, it is completely normal for your small dog to shake and we should not be fearful over this understanding. However, using proper techniques, such as remaining calm and not getting your pup too excited when you do things would be the best option. If you apply these methods to your animal, you can ensure to have a happy and healthy dog!

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