Why is my dog shaking?
May 12, 2013 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Why might my dog be shaking and what can I do to help him?

Petey is my 11-year-old rat terrier. Today was a normal slow day around the house; he slept under the covers for several hours like normal, ate his food, and we've gone outside twice like we always do. Maybe an hour or so ago he came on to my lap and is trembling. He doesn't seem to be in pain anywhere. He seems alert, he's following me around like usual when I get up, but then he just sits close to my feet and shakes. There's no noises -- I vacuumed the floor but that was hours ago. He turned up his nose at his treats, but got very interested in some cookie dough I dropped -- I took it away, so I know it's not sugar or chocolate.

What's going on? How can I help him? I need to take these cookies over to a friend's in a little bit, but I'm worried to leave Petey alone when he seems out of sorts.
posted by mibo to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It could be just old age. We have a 14 yo miniature schnauzer that developed shaking some 3 years ago. The vet told us it's the equivalent of doggy Parkinson's (she explained it better, but that was my takeaway), and that yeah, Schnauzers get it. She's old and increasingly sluggish, but the shaking hasn't worsened and doesn't seem to bother her.
posted by kandinski at 5:50 PM on May 12, 2013

It could also be dog arthritis.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 5:52 PM on May 12, 2013

It's hard to tell. Could he be cold? He could be hearing something scary that you can't hear. He could be getting sick. If you hold him in your lap and pet him, does he shake less? Do you have a vet you could call?
posted by medusa at 5:52 PM on May 12, 2013

I would look for a high or ultra-high frequency sound source. My dog shakes when the smoke detector low-battery warning goes off, also whenever there's a Furby toy around. The new generation of Furby toys uses an ultra-high frequency to communicate between the toys and with their smart phone apps. The Furby FAQ says it's harmless to those animals who hear it, but my dog disagrees.
posted by ellenaim at 5:56 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

This morning was a bit colder than it's been the last few days (though nowhere near winter temps), and my puppy started shivering for (seemlingly) no reason. Figured, well, maybe he's cold? Wrapped him up in a blanket and held him tight for a while and he calmed right down.

So, cold would be my first anecdotal guess.
posted by phunniemee at 6:09 PM on May 12, 2013

That was one of the symptoms of our dog's thyroid problem. Once he started on thyroxine the shaking went away.
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:15 PM on May 12, 2013

Could he have injured himself in some way, like he stepped on something sharp or twisted a leg or something relatively minor but still bothersome?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:16 PM on May 12, 2013

My terrier does this at times...I think, since it happens mostly at night, that he hears noises that scare him, such as one animal fighting with another...just my theory. If it happened on a regular basis I would take him to the vet.
posted by cairnoflore at 6:25 PM on May 12, 2013

Has he been drinking more than usual? It may be Cushing's. My 15-year-old dachshund has it and the shaking is a pretty regular thing but it doesn't affect her other functioning much. If he seems otherwise ok, keep an eye on him until you can get to the vet and schedule bloodwork.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:28 PM on May 12, 2013

My terrier does this occasionally too. The vet said to just keep an eye on it to see if it gets more frequent, but that it wasn't necessarily a specific problem.
posted by judith at 7:20 PM on May 12, 2013

What's going on?
No one on AskMe can answer this.
How can I help him?
Take him to the vet in the morning.
posted by OsoMeaty at 7:44 PM on May 12, 2013

Overnight if he becomes very lethargic, vomits more than twice, looses control of his bladder or bowels, or is unable to stand you'll need to get to an emergency vet.

You're probably OK to run those cookies over to a friend, but I wouldn't linger to long. Hopefully he's just got a chill.
posted by OsoMeaty at 7:47 PM on May 12, 2013

My little pup Lulu does this if a big fly gets in the house. It is really strange. Outdoors, she'll snap away at them but she's terrified of them once indoors and try to hide.

Take a good look at his poops on your next walk, make sure he is eating/drinking and take him in to the vet if he doesn't seem right.
posted by dottiechang at 7:58 PM on May 12, 2013

Was coming in to also suggest high frequency sounds. My parents spent over $400 last month on tests for their dog who was shaking. All normal. The shaking continued until
my Dad went to get something out of the attic and heard the attic smoke detector beeping. He changed the battery and the dog quit shaking. It's kind of funny but they were so relieved that he was ok, we don't let them see us get tickled at the $400 battery.
posted by pearlybob at 8:04 PM on May 12, 2013

It's worth it to take Petey to the vet to rule out a medical reason.

Our rat terrier has high anxiety - seems to be common in the breed - and we've had very good results with a Thundershirt for our anxious rat terrier. If he's crate trained and sleeps in a crate at night, it could also help to stuff his crate with your used bedding (e.g. what's on your bed right now) for the next couple of nights, to make it extra snuggly and good-smelling.
posted by juniperesque at 8:32 PM on May 12, 2013

My friend's terrier used to do this when he had a UTI. If you can see where yours pees, look for bloody or cloudy urine, and take him to the vet and ask them to assess his health.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:39 PM on May 12, 2013

When my dog was shaking it turned out to be a back injury.
posted by HotToddy at 8:47 PM on May 12, 2013

Thanks everyone for your comments. I left for about an hour and when I came back he was his normal bouncy self with his ears and tail up. I'm guessing it was the cold snap or a noise I couldn't hear, but I'm going to keep an eye on him and call the vet if it starts up so badly again.
posted by mibo at 8:49 PM on May 12, 2013

My 3 year old lab/pit mix did this from time to time. It freaked me out. I took him to the vet last year to ask about it. She said: "Does he climb stairs in your house." I said: "Yes, we just moved into a new house with a steep staircase." She replied: "It's probably muscle fatigue. He'll get over it."

Dear reader, he has.
posted by R. Schlock at 10:06 PM on May 12, 2013

My Maltipoo did this a few times recently - would shiver for a while and then stop for a longer while, then start up again. We took her to the vet, and they found a slight spinal injury. We were able to deal with it proactively and get it to heal, and she's fine now, but it could have been much worse if we had ignored it. Get her checked out, even if she's stopped shaking for the time being.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:57 AM on May 13, 2013

If he starts licking his lips a lot he could be feeling off with an upset Tummy. One of my dogs does this, and then he eats some grass and hurls and feels much better. Also I love to hear that someone elses Rattie sleeps under the covers for hours on end too.
posted by wwax at 8:29 AM on May 13, 2013

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