What causes my dog to shiver?

Written by susan paretts Google
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What causes my dog to shiver?
Cold weather can cause your dog to shiver or lead to hypothermia. (Getty Images)

A dog that shivers or shakes may suffer from a variety of medical or environmental conditions that cause this involuntary behaviour. A dog that becomes stressed, cold or ill may suddenly start shaking, as will a dog frightened by a loud noise or intimidating new animal or person in your home. Take a dog that shivers continuously to a veterinarian for evaluation and care.


A dog who shivers may suffer from hypothermia, a condition in which the dog's temperature is below normal. Older dogs, puppies, toy breeds, those that are ill and those with short or thin coats can become chilled more easily than larger, healthy dogs with thick coats. Take the dog's temperature using a rectal thermometer for people placed in the dog's rectum, or use a pet-specific thermometer to use in its ear. A dog's normal temperature is between 37.7 and 39.1 degrees Celsius (100 and 102.5 Fahrenheit). If a dog's temperature falls below this range, wrap the dog in blankets and use a hot water bottle to raise its body temperature to a normal level.

White shaker syndrome

A condition called white shaker syndrome, also known as idiopathic generalised tremor syndrome, primarily affects small, white dogs. Affected dogs, usually between the ages of 1 and 6 years old, suddenly begin to experience shivering and tremors throughout their bodies. The condition has no definitive cause and is not completely understood. The disease primarily affects certain white breeds, including the Bichon, poodle, Maltese, and West Highland white terrier. Stress, excitement and handling worsen the condition and a vet may prescribe prednisone, an anti-inflammatory medication, or diazepam (Valium) to treat the dog. Sometimes, the condition resolves on its own without medicine.


When a dog suffers from low blood sugar, also called hypoglycaemia, it can cause shivering and shaking. Toy breeds and puppies under three months old are more prone to hypoglycaemia, and this condition can lead to death if not treated. In addition to the shivering, the dog may lack coordination, lose its appetite or appear lethargic. If your dog has a normal temperature, rub a teaspoon of honey or golden syrup on its gums to increase its blood sugar level. Do this every six hours, then take the dog to a vet for treatment.

Considerations and prevention

Comfort your dog during loud thunderstorms if they scare your dog. Keep the dog confined from pets that intimidate it. A dog that shakes and has a high body temperature, above 39.1 degrees Celsius (102.5 Fahrenheit), indicates that it has a fever and may have an infection. Bring your dog to a vet to evaluate it for an underlying health issue causing its shivering, such as renal failure. Dress your dog in warm coats in winter and keep it in a temperature-controlled environment. Avoid hypoglycaemia by feeding a puppy five to six times a day and a small, adult dog two to three times a day.

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