Why Your Dog is Crying and Shaking
Shaking is a normal dog behavior. Dogs shake and tremble when they are excited, playing, stretching, or drying off. Most dogs are filled with energy, so happy shaking is a natural way for them to work some of their energy out. However, when this shaking is accompanied with crying or symptoms, it might be due to a medical condition or anxiety and fear.
There are many medical causes of trembling in dogs. Some of the most common include:
Distemper. Canine distemper is caused by a virus, and it typically occurs in puppies or young dogs that haven’t received all their vaccinations. Distemper causes tremors in dogs, along with other symptoms like nasal discharge, coughing, fever, or other flu-like symptoms. Treating canine distemper will require keeping your dog comfortable and rested while their immune system fights the virus. We also might need to prescribe antibiotics, airway dilators, physical therapy, and fluids to treat dehydration.
Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS). GTS is also sometimes referred to as steroid responsive tremor syndrome or white shaker dog syndrome. GTS was first recognized in small, white breeds of dogs, like Maltese and West Highland White Terrier, but it can occur in any size or breed of dog. Symptoms often start between 9 months and 2 years old, and treatments usually involve corticosteroids medication. The exact cause of GTS is unknown.
Nausea. Like people, dogs are also prone to nausea from time to time, due to eating too much, or eating something toxic for them. However, nausea is sometimes due to bigger medical conditions, like kidney or liver disease. Shaking is a common symptom of nausea in dogs, along with lip smacking, swallowing, salivationg more than usual, yawning, vomiting, and lethargy. Nausea treatments are based on the cause of nausea. If your pet begins vomiting or appears nauseas, you might need to call an emergency vet, as it could be lethal poisoning or kidney disease.
Pain and aging. As dogs age, they can sometimes develop tremors, especially in their hind legs. Tremors usually won’t affect your dog’s gait or movements. Trembling in older dogs could be caused by old age or geriatric pain. If you’ve noticed your aging dog has developed tremors, you should always talk to your vet to ensure pain is appropriately managed.
Seizures in dogs. Like humans, dogs can also suffer from epilepsy, a neurological disorder that causes seizures. Seizures are characterized by collapsing, muscle twitches, drooling, tongue chewing, tensed up body, or foaming at the mouth. Dogs will sometimes fall on their side and paddle the air with their legs. Seizure treatments involve medications, like phenobarbital or potassium bromide.
Poisoning. Dogs are adventurous eaters, which can sometimes get them into trouble, especially when they eat something that is toxic to them. A common side effect of poisoning in dogs is trembling. Some things that are poisonous to dogs include, chocolate, cigarettes, or xylitol. If you suspect your dog has eaten something poisonous, we recommend calling our emergency vet immediately.
Excitement. Most dog owners are aware that it doesn’t take much to make a dog feel happy and excited. Some dogs are so excitable that they tremble and bark when their owners come home at the end of the day. A lot of dogs grow out of this phase. However, you can help calm your dog’s nerves by greeting them briefly and calmly or training them to sit, before you pet him.
Anxiety or trauma. For most people, anxiety and fear are synonymous. However, dogs sometimes feel anxiety without actually being scared. Shaking and trembling in dogs is sometimes caused by anxiety, which is usually caused from a lack of exercise or entering a new environment. Sometimes fear and trauma can cause trembling in dogs. For instance, rescue dogs who were abused by previous owners might shake and cry, if they are triggered by something that reminded them of their previous trauma. You can help soothe your pet’s fear by petting her softly and talking in a low, quiet voice.
When to See an Emergency Vet
If your dog is shaking, trembling, and crying, try to determine if your dog is also in pain. Look for any signs of medical conditions, like an abnormal limb that might be fractured or extreme stomach bloating, which is often indicative of pancreatitis or an intestinal disorder. If your pet is shaking and crying along with other medical symptoms, like diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, you should seek veterinary care immediately. Want to learn more about why your dog might be shaking and crying? Call our experienced emergency vet today at 858-842-5600.