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Why Is My Old Dog Shaking: 10 Reasons & How To Help

As a loving dog parent, it’s natural to worry when your senior dog starts shaking.

I’ve been through the same situation, and I understand how distressing it can be. That’s why I’ve decided to create this comprehensive guide to help you understand why your senior dog might be shaking.

In this guide, I’ll explore the possible reasons, whether this behavior is normal in senior dogs, when to worry, and when to seek help from a vet. Let’s dive in!

1. The Aging Process

Is it normal for senior dogs to shake?

As our dogs age, their bodies go through various changes.

Just like humans, they may experience age-related issues such as joint pain, muscle weakness, and even cognitive decline.

These factors can contribute to trembling or shaking in senior dogs. While it may be concerning, it is not uncommon for older dogs to shake occasionally.

For example, my senior dog, Charlie, started shaking as he got older. At first, I was worried, but after consulting with our vet, I learned that it was a natural part of the aging process.

2. Pain or Discomfort

When to worry about your senior dog shaking

One possible reason for your senior dog shaking is pain or discomfort.

This can be caused by various factors, such as arthritis, injury, or even an underlying medical condition.

If you notice your dog shaking consistently or showing signs of pain, it’s essential to consult with your vet to identify the cause and provide appropriate treatment.

3. Anxiety or Stress

Can anxiety cause senior dogs to shake?

Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety and stress, and shaking is one way they may exhibit these feelings.

Older dogs might become more anxious due to changes in their environment, cognitive decline, or even separation anxiety. In some cases, shaking may be a sign of an anxiety-related issue.

If you think your dog’s shaking might be related to anxiety or stress, try to identify the triggers and work on minimizing them.

4. Cold Temperatures

How to keep your senior dog warm

If your senior dog is shaking, it could be because they’re feeling cold. As dogs age, they might have a harder time regulating their body temperature, especially during the winter months.

Make sure to provide your dog with a warm and cozy environment, including a comfortable bed and, if necessary, a blanket or doggy sweater to keep them warm.

Similar: Keeping Old Dogs Cool In Summer! Important advice

5. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD)

What is CCD and how does it affect senior dogs?

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) is a cognitive decline in dogs, similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. It’s not uncommon for senior dogs to develop CCD, and one symptom might be shaking or trembling.

Other signs of CCD include disorientation, changes in sleep patterns, and loss of house training. If you suspect your dog has CCD, consult with your vet to discuss treatment options.

6. Hypoglycemia

What is hypoglycemia and why does it cause shaking in senior dogs?

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can cause shaking in dogs. Senior dogs might be more susceptible to hypoglycemia due to age-related health issues.

If your dog’s shaking is accompanied by weakness, confusion, or seizures, it could be a sign of hypoglycemia. Consult with your vet immediately to determine the cause and get appropriate treatment.

7. Kidney or Liver Disease

When should you seek help from a vet?

Certain medical conditions, such as kidney or liver disease, can cause shaking in senior dogs. If your dog has any other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, or changes in appetite, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue.

In this case, it’s essential to seek help from your vet as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can make a significant difference in your dog’s prognosis and quality of life.

8. Medications or Toxins

Can medications or toxins cause shaking in senior dogs?

Some medications can cause shaking as a side effect, especially in older dogs.

If your senior dog is on medication and you notice shaking, consult with your vet to determine if the medication is the cause and if any adjustments need to be made.

Additionally, exposure to toxins such as chocolate, xylitol, or household chemicals can cause shaking in dogs. If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxin, contact your vet or an emergency animal clinic immediately.

9. Neurological Disorders

Can neurological disorders cause shaking in senior dogs?

Neurological disorders, such as degenerative myelopathy or a brain tumor, can cause shaking in senior dogs.

These conditions can be challenging to diagnose and treat, so it’s essential to consult with your vet if you suspect your dog has a neurological issue.

They will be able to guide you through the diagnostic process and discuss treatment options.

10. Muscle Weakness or Fatigue

How does muscle weakness or fatigue affect senior dogs?

As dogs age, they might experience muscle weakness or fatigue, which can cause shaking.

This can be due to the natural aging process, lack of exercise, or an underlying medical condition.

To help your senior dog maintain muscle strength and reduce shaking, ensure they get regular exercise and a balanced diet.

When to Seek Help From a Vet

If your senior dog’s shaking is persistent, accompanied by other symptoms, or causing distress, it’s essential to consult with your vet.

They can help identify the cause, provide appropriate treatment, and give you peace of mind. Early intervention can make a significant difference in your dog’s quality of life and overall well-being.

In Charlie’s case, it turned out that his shaking was due to a combination of the aging process and arthritis. Our vet recommended some pain relief medication and joint supplements, which made a big difference in his comfort and reduced the shaking.

Remember, it’s always best to consult with a professional when it comes to your dog’s health.

I hope this comprehensive guide has helped you understand the possible reasons behind your senior dog’s shaking.

As a fellow dog parent, I understand how worrying it can be. But remember, you’re not alone, and there’s plenty of support available to help you care for your beloved senior dog.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.