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Why Is My Senior Dog Shivering: (All You Need to Know)

As a loving pet parent, I know how worrisome it can be when your senior dog starts shivering.

I’ve been in your shoes, and I understand how important it is to figure out what’s going on with your furry friend.

That’s why I’ve put together this comprehensive guide, complete with all the possible reasons and what to do about them. So, let’s dive right in!

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding Shivering in Senior Dogs
  2. Medical Causes of Shivering
  3. Non-Medical Causes of Shivering
  4. When to Seek Veterinary Help
  5. How to Help Your Shivering Senior Dog
old dog shivering

Understanding Shivering in Senior Dogs

First things first: it’s essential to understand that shivering in senior dogs is not uncommon.

Dogs can shiver for a variety of reasons, and sometimes it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact cause.

However, with some careful observation and a little detective work, we can often figure out what’s going on and address the issue.

Medical Causes of Shivering

There are several medical reasons why your senior dog might be shivering. It’s crucial to be aware of these possibilities so you can take the appropriate steps to help your furry friend.

  1. Pain: As dogs age, they may experience discomfort due to arthritis, dental issues, or other medical conditions. Shivering can be a sign that your senior dog is in pain.
    • What to do: If you suspect your dog is in pain, consult your veterinarian for advice on pain management.
  2. Anxiety or stress: Older dogs can become more anxious or stressed as they age. Shivering can be a sign that your dog is feeling overwhelmed.
    • What to do: Work with your veterinarian or a professional trainer to develop a plan to reduce your dog’s stress and anxiety.
  3. Illness: Certain illnesses, like kidney disease or heart problems, can cause your senior dog to shiver.
    • What to do: If your dog is exhibiting other symptoms of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or vomiting, schedule a veterinary appointment as soon as possible.
  4. Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar can lead to shivering in senior dogs, especially those with diabetes.
    • What to do: Monitor your dog’s blood sugar levels and consult your veterinarian about the appropriate treatment plan.
  5. Hypothyroidism: This condition occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, which can cause shivering in senior dogs.
    • What to do: If you suspect hypothyroidism, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Non-Medical Causes of Shivering

It’s important to note that not all shivering in senior dogs is due to medical issues. There are also several non-medical reasons why your dog might be shivering:

  1. Cold: Just like us, dogs can get cold. As dogs age, they may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, making them more susceptible to feeling chilly.
    • What to do: Ensure your senior dog has a warm, cozy place to rest, and consider investing in a doggy sweater for chilly days.
  2. Excitement or anticipation: Sometimes, dogs shiver when they’re excited or anticipating something, like a treat or a walk. – What to do: Observe your dog’s behavior to see if the shivering occurs in specific situations or contexts. If excitement or anticipation is the cause, no action is needed – it’s just a natural reaction.
  1. Old age: As dogs age, they may become more prone to shivering due to muscle weakness or general frailty.
    • What to do: Make sure your senior dog has a comfortable living environment, and consider providing them with joint supplements or discussing physical therapy options with your veterinarian.

When to Seek Veterinary Help

It’s essential to know when it’s time to seek professional help for your shivering senior dog. If you notice any of the following, schedule a veterinary appointment as soon as possible:

  • The shivering is accompanied by other signs of illness, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy
  • Your dog’s shivering is getting progressively worse or more frequent
  • You suspect your dog is in pain and the shivering is a symptom of that pain
  • The shivering is interfering with your dog’s quality of life

How to Help Your Shivering Senior Dog

Now that we’ve covered the possible reasons for your senior dog’s shivering, let’s talk about what you can do to help them:

  1. Keep your dog warm: Make sure your senior dog has a warm, comfortable place to rest. Use blankets, heating pads, or dog sweaters to help them stay cozy.
  2. Address any medical issues: If you suspect a medical problem, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
  3. Manage stress and anxiety: Create a calming environment for your senior dog and try to minimize any known stressors. You may also want to discuss anxiety-reducing medications or supplements with your veterinarian.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight: Overweight dogs are more prone to joint issues, which can cause shivering. Ensure your senior dog is on a balanced diet and gets regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Offer regular vet check-ups: Regular veterinary visits can help catch any health issues early, making it easier to address potential causes of shivering in your senior dog.

The Role of Nutrition In Preventing Shivering

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in the overall health and well-being of your senior dog. A well-balanced diet can help prevent certain medical conditions that could cause shivering and ensure your dog maintains a healthy weight, which is especially important for older dogs. Let’s expand on this in more detail below.

  1. Importance of a balanced diet: A balanced diet for your senior dog should include high-quality proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. This will help support their immune system, maintain muscle mass, and provide the energy they need to stay active and healthy. A strong immune system and overall good health can help prevent illnesses that may cause shivering in your senior dog.
  2. Age-appropriate dog food: As dogs age, their nutritional needs change. It’s essential to choose a dog food specifically formulated for senior dogs, as these foods typically have lower calorie content and are easier to digest. This can help prevent obesity and other health issues that could cause shivering, such as joint problems or heart conditions.
  3. Supplements for senior dogs: In some cases, your veterinarian might recommend specific supplements to support your senior dog’s health, such as glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, omega-3 fatty acids for heart health, or probiotics for digestive health. These supplements can help address underlying health issues that could potentially cause shivering in your senior dog.
  4. Monitor your dog’s weight: Obesity can lead to various health problems in senior dogs, including joint issues, heart disease, and diabetes. All of these conditions can potentially cause shivering. Keep a close eye on your dog’s weight and make adjustments to their diet and exercise routine as needed to maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Hydration: Proper hydration is essential for your senior dog’s overall health. Dehydration can lead to muscle tremors and shivering. Make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times and monitor their water intake. If you notice any changes in their drinking habits, consult your veterinarian.
  6. Consult your veterinarian: If you’re unsure about your senior dog’s nutritional needs or if you suspect an underlying health issue is causing your dog to shiver, consult your veterinarian. They can help guide you in choosing the right food, supplements, and overall care plan for your senior dog.

By focusing on proper nutrition for your senior dog, you can help support their immune system and overall health, reducing the likelihood of shivering due to medical conditions.

Last thoughts

In conclusion, shivering in senior dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, both medical and non-medical.

By carefully observing your dog and being aware of the possible reasons for their shivering, you can take the appropriate steps to address the issue and keep your furry friend comfortable in their golden years.

Remember, if you’re ever in doubt or concerned about your dog’s health, don’t hesitate to consult with your veterinarian.


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.