We’re not talking about the “Sit. Shake.” kind of shake. Nor the fun way they shake off water starting from their nose all the way to the end of their tail. (FYI, dogs can shake off 70% of the water on their fur in just four seconds!)
No, we’re talking about that full-body trembling you’ve likely seen your pooch do from time to time. Why do they do it? And is it something you should be worried about? Let’s shake a leg and find out.
Why do dogs shake?
A majority of dog owners in an IAMS™ survey* (64%) think dogs shake because they’re cold. Other top responses were because they’re scared (57%) or anxious (54%).
High-fives all around because it turns out there are a number of reasons dogs shake, and all those are possible correct answers.
Just like their owners, dogs will often shiver when cold.
Opens a new windowDr. Tammie King, Applied Behavior Technical Leader at Waltham Petcare Science Institute, says: “Dogs shiver in response to falling temperatures. Dogs with short or no hair are especially susceptible. You should get them warm, put coats on them or bring them inside.” Same goes for you.
They're anxious or scared
“Shaking is a response to epinephrine or adrenaline secretion — a sign of anxiety where the dog is on high alert,” says
Opens a new windowJames Serpell, B.S., Ph.D., Professor of Humane Ethics & Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. You may notice this when you’re at the vet or there’s a situation where they feel threatened. Dr. Serpell also offers a way to help in some cases: “Identify what’s triggering the behavior. Provide them comfort. Going forward, you can gradually desensitize your pet to the thing it’s afraid of.” Unless it’s clowns. Those are always scary.
They're not feeling well
Trembling can also be a sign of serious issues like injury, poisoning or kidney disease.
Opens a new windowDr. Jo Gale, BVetMed CertLAS MRCVS, Senior Manager, Global Science Advocacy at Waltham Petcare Science Institute urges pet owners to be vigilant: “If a pet is unwell in another way, they could be trembling.” If their shaking is accompanied by symptoms like diarrhea, limping or vomiting, you should consult your vet straight away.
*Surveyed U.S. dog owners, age 18+
Sample Size: n=201
Fielded May 8-10, 2020
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Does your mature dog sniff at his bowl and walk away instead of digging in? You may think he’s just being picky, but it’s important to keep an eye on how much he’s eating — especially if he’s a senior. While age-related diminishment of the senses of smell and taste may account for some of his disinterest in food, appetite loss can also indicate a serious medical problem.
“It’s important to give your dog enough calories because weight loss can be debilitating to senior pets,” says Wendy Brooks, D.V.M., who warns that a loss in appetite should be mentioned to your vet. A good rule of thumb: If your pet hasn’t eaten in a day, make a visit to the vet. Here are six ways to entice your canine friend with a nourishing meal.
6 Ways to Encourage Your Senior Dog to Eat More
1. Mix Dry Food with Moist Food
Many animals find canned food more palatable because they like the taste and texture, Brooks says. You can top their favorite dry food with room-temperature wet food.
2. Warm It Up
Dogs like a warm or room-temperature (not hot or cold) meal. Avoid serving him day-old wet food from the refrigerator, and keep his food away from heat. Another reason he might not be eating: It's too hot outside.
3. Try a Change
Dogs prefer consistency when it comes to their food. Don't change every day, but try a new flavor, such as lamb or chicken, and see if he responds (it may trigger his sense of smell). To avoid an upset stomach, introduce a new food by mixing it with his old food in equal increments each day.
4. Stay Close
Common mature-dog health issues, such as arthritis or joint pain, can make it difficult for him to access his bowls. Keep food and water where he spends most of his time. Put a water bowl on all floors of the house, too.
5. Keep the Fresh Water Flowing
Older pets are at a higher risk of dehydration. Provide a clean bowl with fresh water at all times. It will help prevent disease, such as a kidney condition, and aid in digestion.
6. Offer Praise
Dogs are people pleasers. If you see him eating, give him a little verbal reward. He'll know it makes you happy and will repeat the behavior.
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