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My dog’s legs are shaking—What does it mean?

 by james on 09 Mar 2022 |
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Dogs tremble when they are scared, excited or cold, and some pets seem to shake for no reason at all. Read on to learn about canine tremors.

My dog’s legs are shaking—What does it mean?


Dogs shiver for a variety of reasons, from excitement to pain or intense cold. Whatever is causing Fido to tremble is telling you something about his health and it is important to find out the root of the problem.
Tremors are involuntary, rhythmic twitching of the muscles that typically result in shaking of a particular part of your pet’s body. While these back-and-forth movements vary in speed, they are typically easy to tell apart from seizures, as tremors tend to be more regular and localized in one part of the body. Though they may occur anywhere, they are particularly common in dogs’ hind legs. Many potential causes lead to canine tremors, though often the source can be tricky to identify. Some dogs are simply more prone to generalized tremor syndrome, fincluding Chow Chows, Dalmatians, Doberman Pinschers, English Bulldogs, Labrador Retrievers, Samoyeds, Springer Spaniels and Weimaraners. There are a wide range of other potential causes behind shaking, too, from exposure to toxins to an illness or simply old age. Because treatments for tremors vary depending on their root source, you should take your companion to the veterinarian to get to the bottom of what is causing your companion to quiver.
One common, non-medical reason for trembling is temperature. Just like humans, if your dog gets too cold, his entire body will shake—a symptom that will disappear when he is warm again. Similar full-body tremors can occur when a pet is shaking due to fear, and symptoms will likewise subside when the source of Fido’s stress is removed. If your pet’s tremors are not a temporary reaction to his environment, however, it is important to visit the veterinarian to determine the cause and treatment for your pet’s condition. Using a combination of your pet’s history, a physical exam and routine blood work, your vet can help develop a plan to treat trembling at its source.

Pain is one of the most common causes behind tremors and can be caused by muscle, bone, joint or nerve damage due to either an injury or chronic condition such as arthritis. Older dogs are  particularly prone to tremoring due to muscle fatigue either combined with another condition or simply related to age. Corticosteroids such as prednisone, sedatives or pain relieving medicine can help treat general tremor syndrome. Similar prescriptions to relieve pain or relax the muscles may also help reduce symptoms while your veterinarian searches out the root cause behind Fido’s muscle spasms. If your veterinarian cannot identify any specific cause for your senior pet’s shaky legs and it is does not appear to be harming your pet, there is often no need for treatment beyond keeping your companion warm, watered and fed and ensuring he gets light, but not excessive, exercise to keep his muscles active. If your pet is in pain, your veterinarian can create a plan to manage his symptoms. Limit the amount of exercise he gets, as this can exacerbate tremors, and help keep your dog from getting overly excited, which can create bursts of energy that cause further inflammation.

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