Does your dog shake for no reason? The first time you see it, you may be alarmed. Before you ask your vet “why is my dog’s front leg shaking,” read through our guide.
There are many reasons your dog could have the quivers and not all are cause for concern. Whether it’s just his front legs or his whole body, the causes outlined in our guide will help you determine whether it’s time to call the vet or time to simply wait it out.
Curious about why your dog is shivering and shaking? Let’s explore the reasons your pup could be experiencing this symptom.
Before reading this guide, “Why Is My Dog’s Front Leg Shaking,” check out: Why Is My Dog Shaking After Eating? Common Causes and Treatments! (2023) and Why is My Yorkie Shaking? (2023).
Why Is My Dog’s Front Leg Shaking?
If you notice your dog is shaking, your first thought may be that he is either cold or scared. Dogs shiver as we do, and when they’re faced with a threat this can also cause shakiness.
But there are other reasons your dog could be quivering, and we’re going to look at those reasons one by one. In some instances, a call to the veterinarian may be in order. In others, your pup’s shaking may be cause for no concern at all. Let’s take a look.
Your Dog Is Cold
Dogs shiver just as we do when they get cold, so if you see your pup standing at the French doors shaking, he may be letting you know it’s time for him to come inside! Temperatures as low as 50 degrees are safe for your dog, but when the temps drop, he may be susceptible to hypothermia or frostbite.
Frostnip and frostbite are conditions that affect your pup’s body tissue, and they can be irreversible. Hypothermia occurs when your dog’s body temperature drops below 99 degrees Fahrenheit.
Both are serious conditions and if your dog is shaking because of the cold, it’s certainly time to warm him up.
Your Dog Has Generalized Tremor Syndrome
We don’t quite know what causes Generalized Tremor Syndrome, but we do know that, for some reason, dogs with white coats are more predisposed to the condition. It’s also more common in dogs weighing under 30 pounds.
If your dog has Generalized Tremor Syndrome, your vet will likely choose a course of steroids for him; prednisone is typically chosen. The syndrome is treatable, but your dog may be on a course of low-dose steroids for the duration of his lifetime.
Your Dog Is Anxious
Your pup may be particularly nervous about new surroundings, thunderstorms, fireworks, or even a visitor to your home. If you notice your dog’s front legs shaking when sitting or even when standing, there’s a good chance he may just be nervous.
Separate your dog from the source of his anxiety, and give him time to settle down. Supplying him with a treat or a familiar, favorite toy can also help you calm your anxious pup.
Anxiety isn’t really anything to stress over — dogs have feelings just as humans do! But if it becomes problematic, for instance during thunderstorms, you can talk with your vet about medication that will relax your pup.
Your Dog Wants Attention
Doodles are smart, and eventually your dog will put two and two together. When it’s cold outside and he’s shivering, you’re likely to let him in. Suddenly, you may find that your pup is shivering in the heat of summer in an attempt to play the sympathy card.
If you notice your pup shaking for attention, first rule out external causes for the shivers. If there’s nothing wrong with your dog, please refrain from accommodating him! It’s best not to reinforce the behavior.
Think of the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Your pup may be shivering for attention now, but when something truly is wrong, you’ll be more likely to dismiss the issue if your dog is accustomed to getting his way when he trembles.
You Have a Senior Dog
Just as humans quake and tremble a bit more as they age, you may notice that your dog is doing the same. Senior dogs are more likely to shiver due to joint trouble, arthritis, or a similar condition.
While shivering is common in older dogs, it’s best to bring your pup to the vet to determine the underlying cause. Shivering is a sign that your pup is in pain, and if that discomfort can be eliminated, well, that’s all the better.
Your Dog Is in Pain
Speaking of discomfort, you may notice your dog’s front leg shakes when standing or when sitting. Other body parts may tremor as well, and this can be a sign that your dog is in pain.
Give your dog a once-over to try to determine the cause of the pain. If there’s a visible injury, have it treated immediately. There’s a possibility your dog may just have a belly ache or some other innocuous ailment, in which case the pain (and shaking) will subside.
In a worst-case scenario, your pup will need veterinary care to treat a condition that persists or to be prescribed a painkiller to help him find relief.
Your Dog Has Hypoglycemia or Hyperglycemia
Fluctuations in your dog’s blood sugar can cause shaking. Is he eating properly? Is his food balanced for his breed, size, and age? Are you giving him the right amount of food each day?
Dogs can be hypoglycemic (low blood sugar), hyperglycemic (high blood sugar), or diabetic. Some dog breeds are more prone to diabetes and other blood sugar disorders than others, including Toy Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, and Terriers.
If you suspect your pup has trouble regulating his blood sugar naturally, call your veterinarian. It may be that your vet simply has you alter your dog’s diet and exercise routine. In a worst-case scenario, you may have to give your dog insulin injections.
Your Dog Has Ingested a Toxin
If you’re asking “why is my dog’s front leg shaking,” take a closer look at your pup. Is it just his front legs, or is his whole body shaking? There is the possibility that your dog has ingested a toxin, so you’ll want to look for this and additional symptoms.
Signs that your dog has eaten something harmful include:
- Gastrointestinal pain (or vomiting, diarrhea)
- Seizures and tremors
- Excessive drooling
- Abnormal lethargy
- Raised or lowered body temperature
- Difficulty breathing
- Discoloration of gums or lips
If you notice any of these symptoms, or if you simply notice that your pup is behaving oddly, please call your vet.
In the meantime and while you wait for your appointment, call Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435. If you can, take note of what your dog ingested and how much. The hotline staffer will need this information.
My Dog’s Front Leg Shakes When Standing — What Do I Do?
As you can see, there are quite a few reasons your dog may be exhibiting tremors or shaking. Some are medical issues, some are temporary discomforts such as cold, and others are simply plays for attention.
If you’re unsure of the cause of your pup’s trembles, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Call a vet for assistance and explain the circumstances. He or she can guide you through the next steps in caring for your dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have questions about your dog’s legs shaking, read on. These are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the symptom.
If you’ve noticed the sudden onset of tremors in your dog, it’s best to call a vet. Your veterinarian or the affiliated helpline can help guide you through determining why your dog is exhibiting this symptom.
If you realize that your dog has other symptoms, such as vomiting, drooling, or diarrhea, contact Animal Poison Control — shaking can be a sign that your dog has ingested a “no-no” food or other substance.
If your dog is lethargic and shaky, it’s time to call the vet. This can indicate your dog has an underlying health issue, or even that he’s been poisoned.
If your pup is not moving except to shake and is otherwise healthy, check for the other ailments listed in this guide. If he’s anxious or nervous, separate him from the stimuli in his own, quiet place. Or if he’s cold, bring him inside! If he simply wants attention, pay him no mind — it’s best not to reinforce the behavior.
In most cases, your dog will shake simply because he’s anxious, overstimulated, or scared. Be gentle with your dog as you guide him to a place where he can be alone and without those stimuli.
Sometimes, dogs will experience anxiety due to separation from their original owner. If you have adopted your dog from a shelter, introduce him to his new family and furry friends slowly, then be sure you give him the space he needs to adapt.
Seizures are a sign your dog has had a stroke, and he may seize while he’s experiencing the event. Nausea and vomiting, wandering, a weakness on one side of the body, and a loss of balance are some of the most common symptoms of stroke.
If you suspect your dog is having a stroke, contact your vet right away! Make note of the symptoms you’ve seen, and try to best describe what your dog was doing at the time of the incident.
If your dog did, in fact, experience a stroke event, he will be treated by your vet with medication. For instance, your pup may be put on blood pressure medication, anticoagulants, or thyroid medication to help mitigate future issues.
Conclusion for “Why Is My Dog’s Front Leg Shaking”
If you’ve noticed your dog has begun shaking, there could be quite a few reasons why. Medical issues like hypoglycemia or diabetes could be the cause, or your pup could simply be looking for the attention he’s received when he’s shivered in the past.
You know your dog best. If your pup is behaving unusually, please contact a vet. While some tremors in dogs are normal, other causes may be present. Your vet can help you determine the cause — and subsequent treatment — for your dog’s shivering and shaking.
For articles similar to “Why is My Dog’s Front Leg Shaking,” check out:
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- Why Is My Dog Eating Grass Frantically? (2023)
Learn more by watching “Dog Leg Shaking – Why is This Happening?” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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