Why do puppies shake so much? Honestly, it can feel like an earth tremor and come as quite a shock.

It can be a worry when your pup seems to be shaking all the time for no obvious reason, so we’re not surprised you want to know why puppies shake. Well, in this article we’re going to shake off the myths and tell you all about it. 

Just so you know, a shaking puppy can be and is most often completely normal. There are actually quite a few reasons for why they can shake, like for being too cold, wet, scared or they even shake away a bit of stress or excitement … they quite literally attempt to shake it off! 

But if you think your pup’s shaking is getting a bit too much, we’ll go over what you need to do. It might be a good idea to shake rattle and roll to the vets!

puppy wearing a vest and a collar
Photo by Mia Anderson on Unsplash

Why do puppies shake?

There are far too many reasons why puppies shake that it can be really tricky to pinpoint exactly what’s going on. Of course if you’re worried, going to the vet can help relieve your worries but until you get to that point, some good observational, super sleuth skills could help avoid that. Here are some of the most common reasons for why your puppy shakes:

1. To get dry

This is the obvious one. We are all familiar with the soaking wet dog having a good old shake to dry off their fur… think post bath Beethoven! Dogs literally shake themselves dry, all you need to worry about here is running for cover!

2. Part of their morning routine

When you greet your pup good morning, I bet you they have a little stretch and probably a morning shake. It’s quite simply to get ready for the day ahead – wouldn’t be a bad idea to try that one myself. 

3. Body temperature

So this is a different kind of shake. It’s more of a tremble than the full body shake you see to get dry. They look like they’re vibrating actually. Puppies get cold quite easily so it’s really common to see them shiver if the cold isn’t feeling very forgiving. 

white puppy in the snow
Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

4. They’re scared

Again, this is more of a tremble like when they are cold but it happens after something explosive like fireworks…or a trip to the vets. A ride in the car can all set off the shakes too. Comforting your puppy should do the trick to help it pass fairly quickly. 

5. They’re excited

Puppies literally tremble with excitement. Time to go for a walk? Just picking up the lead can set the trembles off. Kinda cute. 

6. They’re Itchy

Your puppy will shake if they feel itchy – that might be a good sign to check if that flea treatment is up to date.

7. When they’re dreaming 

Does your puppy’s shaking start when they’re asleep? If so they could just be enjoying an exciting dream, chasing squirrels. 

8. Can be a sign of pain

Trembling and shaking can be a sign of pain too. It’s usually accompanied by other signs such as lameness or generally appearing unwell so maybe you might want to get it checked by your vet. 

What to do when you notice your puppy shaking

So if from our list above you think you’ve cracked the shaking code, what can you do about your puppy shaking? In most instances such as when they are wet, dreaming or just getting up then you don’t need to do anything at all. 

Of course you can help them sort themselves out like scratching that itch they just can’t reach, or giving them a cuddle to keep them warm.

puppy on a white sofa
Photo by Álvaro Niño on Unsplash

When to talk to your vet about puppy shaking 

Shaking generally isn’t something you need to be alarmed about, but gosh – puppies just love to stress us out, don’t they? If you’re wondering ‘why does my puppy shake’ and it’s concerning you then read on to see if you need to contact the vet. The following are just a few instances of when shaking may indicate a health concern that is important to check out. 

Ear infections

Really common and very annoying. Also a reason why your puppy might shake. A puppy or dog that shakes their head a lot could be struggling with an ear infection. This is especially the case among those deliciously adorable floppy eared breeds –  they just love the warmth of a floppy ear!

Shaking puppy syndrome

No, I didn’t just make that up. It’s an actual condition, the official term being hypomyelination. It’s a disease of the central nervous system, and there are 2 versions of this. The most severe is found in English Springer Spaniels; it can progress quickly and can shorten a puppies life. Horrid thing. The second version is found in Chow Chow and Weimaraner, it is less severe and often puppies just grow out of it. But if you suspect it, see your vet as soon as you can. 


If you notice your puppy or dog shaking and think they may have come into contact with something toxic, it’s a good idea to head towards the vets as fast as you can. 

Grapes, chocolate or xylitol are just a few of the things that – although tasty for humans – can be toxic to our dogs and cause seizures or shaking. Don’t underestimate plants though! They can also be poisonous for dogs. 

So there you have it! Now you know why puppies shake. Sort of. There’s just so many different reasons why this may be. Our best conclusion is that shaking can either be completely normal or very abnormal. Hey, we did say the journey was a zigzag, right? Besides, puppies just like to keep us guessing like that. 

Anyway, at least now you know what to be aware of and when shaking might be a problem, which is most important. Remember that your pup is totally reliant on you, and they’ll thank you for coming to help out. 

Just like you had questions about puppy shaking, we know you’ll probably have plenty more as a new puppy owner. In fact, we’ve thought ahead and know that you’ll definitely want to read our article tips for new puppy owners. Don’t forget! If you’re ever stuck, our team of puppy experts are available over on the Zigzag puppy training app to help you with literally anything. No question about your puppy is too small or silly!