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Causes of Shivering in Dogs

Updated on December 2, 2010

Toy breeds tend to shiver at times


Dogs may shiver for various reasons and it is important to find out the underlying cause of shivering in the first place. Shivering in some dogs can be caused by physical problems therefore professional medical advice is recommended. However, at times, it may also be a manifestation of psychological issues and stress.While large dogs can be seen shivering, this behavior is particularly common in small dogs. 

Causes of Shivering in Dogs

Arousal or Anticipation

Some dogs may shiver upon seeing other animals. It is not unusual to see a Border Collie shivering in anticipation upon seeing a group of sheep. Some dogs may also shiver upon seeing other dogs and wanting to go play with them. Some dogs shiver when aroused, in other words, when they are getting ready to do something like catch a ball or even, attack another dog.


It is not unusual to see dogs literally shiver when waiting at the vet;s office. They have a reason to do so: they sense fear in the office. Other dogs may leave anal gland secretions that are released when they are particularly fearful or stressed. Upon sensing these invisible messages left by other dogs they obviously become fearful as well. Add on top of this past unpleasant happenings such as shots or painful procedures and it is quite understandable. Dogs may also shiver from fear of loud noises, mad owners or presence of other dogs.


Hypoglycemia is composed by two words: 'hypo' meaning low and 'glycemia' meaning blood sugar. Toy breeds a such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshires, Maltese and Pomeranians often suffer from hypoglycemia that turns them shaky and weak. Toy breed dogs genetically have a low body mass that makes it hard for them to effectively store blood sugar. Toy breed puppies are the most affected but as they grow up the episodes may gradually diminish. However, some toy breeds may be prone to hypoglycemia episodes for the rest of their lives.

According to Best Pet Home Remedies, a website offering a goldmine of home remedies for pets, some pancake syrup, Karo syrup or honey may be helpful. Rubbed on the dog's gums, these sugary concoctions, can be able to help dogs recover from the shaking episode within 10-20 minutes. A small snack may be also helpful in such situations. However, in some cases, veterinary attention may be required, to provide injections of Dextrose and careful monitoring.

White Shaker Syndrome

White Shaker syndrome is also a condition that owners of small dog breeds with a white coat should keep in mind. According toPetplace, this condition has yet to be understood. Affected dogs appear to shiver especially when very excited or stressed. The most common affected breeds are obviously those with white colored coats such as Maltese, West Highland white terriers, Poodles andBichon Frise. Several dogs appear to do better once they are put on steroid medications (Prednisone).


Of course, some dogs may shiver from cold. Mostly these are dogs with short coats not used to being in the cold. Some small dogs benefit from wearing a warm coat when going outside if it is particularly cold outside.

Shivering in dogs may also have various other causes. These episodes may be be caused by ingestion of toxins, seizure activity, upset stomach, nervous system disorders and many more. For this reason if your puppy or dog begins exhibiting shivering episodes, it is best to have your veterinarian start out by ruling out serious medical conditions.


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    • profile image

      Jamie 6 years ago

      Darline, thanks for that comment. My terrier min pin mix woke me up at 3 this morning shivering. He had never done that before. So I was holding him and all of the sudden he pees everywhere. Guess I know what he means now. Thank u for commenting.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Your love of dogs shows.

      Thanks for informative article...

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      When my little poodle has to go outside to do her business, she comes up to me and hugs me around my neck and starts to shiver, then I say, "do you have to go potty" then she jumps for funny is this...great hub, rate up peace & love darski