Canine behaviors are an open book -- as long as you know how to interpret the many signs. Although dogs aren't too mysterious, a lot of their actions have several meanings, which can sometimes be rather confusing. Shaking, for instance, can be a sign of both mental unease and numerous health ailments.
Dogs frequently shake their bodies when they're wet -- a means of wringing out all of the annoying, uncomfortable dampness and getting dry again. They also often shake as a natural reaction to uncomfortably cold weather, just as a person might tremble while standing outside in the middle of a chilly February morning.
Shaking isn't exclusive to wet or cold pooches. Shaking in dogs also can signify frustration, nervousness and unsettled feelings, whether because of a ride in the car or the presence of a strange guest dog in the household. Dogs sometimes even shake when they're extremely giddy or enthusiastic about something. If your dog is waiting on you to open his can and feed him, for example, you might notice the cutie's entire body trembling with pure, unadulterated joy -- aww. Shaking can also be a canine response to handling uncertainty. If a dog feels torn and distressed about something, he might shake his body as a way of turning the page -- and therefore "exiting" a decidedly unpleasant or troubling situation.
Shaking and trembling often can point to health problems in canines, and because of that, it is crucial to never ever brush them off. If your dog shakes excessively and you can't figure out why, an immediate trip to the veterinarian is in order. Some of the possible causes of canine shaking include generalized tremor syndrome and canine distemper. Shaking is also common in elderly canines, particularly due to tremors of the back limbs. For doggies, trembling generally isn't a hypothermia symptom.
If your dog doesn't seem to be sleeping peacefully, but instead is shaking his body conspicuously, he could be intensely wrapped up in whatever is going on in his current dream -- whether it involves something frightening or pleasant.
- Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory: Generalized Tremors
- The Merck Manual for Pet Health: Emergency Care for Dogs and Cats
- DogChannel.com: Signs You Shouldn't Ignore in Your Senior Dog
- DogChannel.com: Dog's Shaking Getting Worse
- DogChannel.com: Dog Has Tremors After Trip to Groomer
- Liam J. Perk Foundation: Common Dog Stress Signals
- Urban Dog; Cis Frankel
- Humane Society of Utah: Cold Weather Care for Dogs
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images