The Causes of Shivering in Dogs
Common Causes of Shivering in Dogs
Dogs may shiver for many reasons, so it is important to find out the underlying cause of the condition in the first place. Shivering in some dogs can be caused by physical problems too, so a veterinary exam is often recommended. Shivering may also be a manifestation of psychological issues and stress. While large dogs may demonstrate this behavior, smaller dogs seem to shiver more often than other breeds. Common triggers include:
- Arousal or anticipation
- Cold or temperature intolerance
- White shaker syndrome
Arousal or Anticipation
Shivering occurs when a dog is anticipating something it likes, such as a game of fetch. Some dogs may shiver when they see other animals and want to play, engage, or even attack. It is not unusual to see a Border Collie shivering as it anticipates seeing a group of sheep.
It is not unusual to see dogs literally shivering when waiting at the vet's office (they have good reason to do so—they sense fear in the office). Other dogs may release anal gland secretions when they are particularly fearful or stressed. Upon sensing these invisible messages, sensitive dogs become anxious as well. Add on top of this any past unpleasant happenings such as shots or painful procedures, and this behavior is quite understandable. Dogs may also shiver from fear of loud noises, mad owners, or the presence of other dogs.
Cold or Temperature Intolerance
Some dogs may shiver from the cold. These are dogs with short coats that are not adapted to or suited for the cold. Some small dogs benefit from wearing a warm coat when going outside.
Hypoglycemia is composed of two words: hypo meaning "low," and glycemia meaning "blood sugar." Toy breeds such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, and Pomeranians often suffer from hypoglycemia, which makes them shaky and weak.
Toy dog breeds are genetically predisposed to have low body masses, which makes it hard for them to effectively store blood sugar. Toy breed puppies are most affected, but as they grow up, the episodes may gradually diminish. Some toy breeds may be prone to hypoglycemic episodes for the rest of their lives. For some non-emergent remedies, try the following:
- Karo syrup or honey. Simply rub it on the dog's gums. These sugary concoctions may be able to help dogs recover from shaking episodes within 10-20 minutes.
- Offer snacks. A small snack may also be helpful in such situations.
Some Conditions Are Serious
In some cases, veterinary attention may require Dextrose injections and careful monitoring.
Video: White Dog Shaker Syndrome
White Shaker Syndrome
White dog shaker syndrome is a condition that owners of small dog breeds (with white coats) should keep in mind. According to Petplace, this condition has yet to be fully understood.
Affected dogs appear to shiver especially when excited or stressed. The most commonly affected breeds are obviously those with white-colored coats such as Maltese, West Highland White Terriers, Poodles, and the Bichon Frise. Several dogs appear to do better once they are put on steroid medications (prednisone).
When Is Shivering Serious?
Shivering in dogs may also be a result of more serious conditions. These episodes may be caused by the ingestion of toxins, seizure activity, upset stomach, nervous system disorders, and more. For this reason, if your puppy or dog suddenly begins to suffer from shivering episodes, it is best to have your veterinarian rule out serious medical conditions.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2010 Adrienne Farricelli