Puppies are cute.
They’re cuddly little bundles of love and affection.
You bring them home from the breeder and they’re eager to please.
But that’s not always the case.
Maybe you got a puppy who was just too energetic for his own good.
Or maybe he didn’t get along with the other dogs in the neighborhood.
Whatever the reason, there’s a chance your new family member could develop some pretty serious health issues if you don’t do something about it.
In this article we’ll look at what causes your puppy’s legs to shake and why it’s important to take him to the vet right away.
The Science Behind Why Puppies’ Legs Shake
Puppy legs shake because they are scared.
They can also shake when they are excited, in pain, or even hungry.
In this article we will look at why puppies shake their legs and how often it happens.
We will also look at whether it is normal for puppies to shake, and what causes them to do so.
We will start with an overview of why dogs shake their legs.
What Happens When Dogs Shake Their Legs?
When a dog shakes its legs, it is not that different from human leg shaking – except that there is no reason for humans to do it.
Dogs shake their legs when they are frightened, anxious, or excited.
The same thing goes for humans – if people shake their legs while they are frightened, anxious, or excited, then it is likely that a dog will shake his legs too.
Dogs don’t usually shake their legs for any medical reason.
However, some dogs do shake their legs when they have an allergic reaction to something they ate, or when they are suffering from arthritis.
Why Should I Be Worried About Dog Leg Shaking?
If your puppy is shaking his legs, he may be showing signs of one of these conditions:
- Fear — He is trying to tell you something important but he cannot find the right words.
- Anxiety — He is nervous about something and wants to let you know that he is worried.
- Excitement — He is happy and wants you to share in his joy.
- Pain — He is in pain and needs help.
You should never ignore your puppy’s leg shaking.
If you see him shaking his legs, pick him up and comfort him immediately.
You should also call your veterinarian immediately if your puppy starts to pant, whine, or cry when he shakes his legs.
If your puppy has been shaking his legs for a long time, he may need treatment for a condition called canine hip dysplasia (CHD).
This condition affects the hips of many dogs and is caused by a genetic defect.
Hip dysplasia results in painful joints that are unstable and cause the dog great discomfort.
Puppies with CHD may experience leg shaking when they are excited, fearful, or in pain.
Can Puppies Get Sick From Leg Shaking?
No, but it is very common.
There are several illnesses that can affect a puppy’s legs.
These include diseases like:
- Parvovirus — This virus can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, resulting in weakness and lethargy. Parvo can be fatal if left untreated.
- Giardia — Giardiasis can lead to loose stools and diarrhea. Treatment requires medication and supportive care.
- Salmonella — Salmonella bacteria can result in abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Treatment includes antibiotics and supportive care.
- Rotavirus — Rotavirus is a highly contagious viral disease that causes vomiting and diarrhea. Treatment involves supportive care, rest, and fluids.
- Clostridium Difficile — C. diff is a disease where the body overreacts to certain types of bacteria. Symptoms include diarrhea, dehydration, and weight loss. Treatment involves supportive care and antibiotics.
- Coccidiosis — Coccidiosis is a protozoal infection that affects the intestines. Symptoms include weight loss, diarrhea, and bloody feces. Treatment involves supportive care and medications.
- Canine distemper — Canine distemper is a highly communicable viral disease that attacks the respiratory system. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and nasal discharge. Treatment involves supportive care and medications.
Is It Normal for Puppies to Shake?
Your puppy’s legs may be shaking because he’s scared, cold, or excited — or any combination of those things.
Some dogs shake when they’re cold, but if your pup shakes his head back and forth, there could be another cause at play.
“Puppies are very sensitive to changes in their environment,” says Dr.
David Lillie, DVM, a veterinary behaviorist at Animal Behavior Associates in Orlando, Florida.
“For example, if they hear something that scares them, like thunder or fireworks, they’ll start shaking.”
If your dog is shivering, she probably has a fever, so keep an eye on her body temperature.
If she seems lethargic, too, she might need some fluids.
And if your dog is panting, she likely needs to exercise or go outside.
“A lot of times, puppies will shake when they get really excited,” adds Dr. Lillie.
“They can’t help themselves.
It’s a natural response.” The same goes for animals who have been frightened or injured.
They shake to try to alert others nearby to their distress.
But what about when puppies shake just because they’re having fun? That’s perfectly normal.
“It’s part of their natural ‘play’ behavior,” says Dr. Lillie.
“They’re trying to communicate with each other and let others know how they feel.”
So why do they shake? “Dogs shake to release energy,” explains Dr. Lillie.
“Energy is stored in muscle tissue and they feel it building up inside them.”
When they shake, they’re letting out this pent-up energy and then feeling better afterward.
In addition to releasing energy, shaking also helps regulate blood flow throughout your puppy’s body.
This is especially important during the first few months of life, since babies don’t have fully developed lungs yet.
So, while shaking is a sign of being healthy, it can also indicate that your puppy is overheating or undernourished.
So, it’s not unusual for puppies to shake, but it can become worrisome if they’re shaking for longer than 30 seconds or if they’re shaking excessively.
Also, if there are other signs of illness (such as coughing) and they aren’t getting better, it’s time to see your veterinarian.
Next, we’ll talk about whether it’s normal for puppies to shake.
When to Worry About Your Puppy’s Shaking Legs
Puppies can shake their legs when they are anxious or excited.
This behavior is called shivering and is not harmful to your dog.
To help determine whether or not your puppy’s shaking is normal, ask yourself these questions:
- Does your puppy have any allergies?
- Does your puppy seem tired or hungry?
- Are there any changes in your puppy’s eating habits?
- Has your puppy had any recent medical treatments, like vaccinations or surgery?
- Have you noticed any changes in your puppy’s behavior or personality?
If the answers to all of these questions are “no,” then your puppy’s shivering might be caused by a minor health issue.
However, if your puppy has one or more of the above listed problems, then he could be experiencing an illness that needs immediate attention from a veterinarian.
If your puppy shows signs of lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, or fever, then you should bring him to the vet immediately.
Read on to learn how to help a puppy who shakes his legs.
How to Help a Puppy with Shaking Legs
There are many factors that can cause your puppy to shake his legs.
The most common reason for this behavior is an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).
This condition, however, only accounts for about 1% of cases in dogs.
Other causes include:
Chronic kidney disease
Sudden changes in diet
Inflammatory bowel disease
Spinal cord injury
Signs of Hyperthyroidism
If your puppy has hyperthyroidism, he will have symptoms like excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and aggression.
He may also tremble when nervous or excited.
Signs of Hypothyroidism
Your puppy with hypothyroidism will experience signs of depression, vomiting, shivering, constipation, and sensitivity to cold temperatures.
He may also tremble when scared or excited.
Signs of Infection
A young puppy who shakes his legs may be experiencing an ear infection.
He will likely have fever, along with a red, inflamed ear.
You should consult a veterinarian if you notice any of these signs.
Signs of Kidney Disease
Puppies with kidney disease will exhibit signs like increased drinking, urinating frequently, and excessive thirst.
They may also seem listless and weak.
If they suffer from dehydration, their skin may appear dry and cracked.
A puppy with kidney disease may also have a thick yellow fluid around his eye or nose.
Signs of Chronic Kidney Disease
A puppy with chronic kidney disease will experience symptoms of weakness, fatigue, and vomiting.
As the disease progresses, he may become prone to infections and have blood in his urine.
Finally, he may develop kidney stones and blood in his stool.
Signs of Hypothyroidism
A puppy with hypothyroidism will show signs of sluggishness, poor appetite, and weight gain.
His coat may look dull and lifeless.
He may also have trouble breathing, especially after playing hard.
Signs of Cushing’s Disease
This disorder occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol, which causes your puppy to become overweight.
In addition to being overweight, a puppy with Cushing’s disease will experience behavioral problems, such as aggression, fearfulness, and restlessness.
Signs of Intestinal Blockage
If your puppy is having difficulty passing his poop, he may be suffering from intestinal blockage.
He may also have trouble eating or drinking.
If he refuses to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom, he may be suffering from severe pain.
Signs of Painful Urination
A puppy that is in pain will often shake his legs.
If he is unable to move, he may try to relieve the discomfort by licking or chewing at his genitals.
He may also lick his anus and testicles.
It is important to note that this behavior is normal and not a sign of pain.
Signs of Stress
If your puppy shows signs of stress, it could mean that he is anxious or afraid.
He may tremble when startled or frightened.
When stressed, puppies tend to shake their legs.
They may also whine, bark, or cry out.
Signs of Anxiety
If you suspect your puppy is suffering from anxiety, he will exhibit behaviors similar to those associated with stress.
He may tremble when startled or fearful.
When he experiences anxiety, he may also whine, bark, or cry out.
He may also tremble and shake his legs.
Signs of Pregnancy
During pregnancy, puppies often experience swelling and enlargement of certain organs.
These changes make them feel uncomfortable.
As a result, they may shake their legs.
Some females even experience trembling during labor and delivery.
Signs of Heartworm Disease
Heartworms are sometimes passed from one dog to another through sexual contact.
If you own two female dogs that have never been spayed, there is a chance that both might carry heartworms.
If you are concerned about this possibility, make sure to talk to your veterinarian about testing for heartworms.
Signs of Spinal Cord Injury
A puppy who suffers from spinal cord injuries may lose control of his hind limbs.
He may also show signs of paralysis.
It is important to consult a veterinarian if you observe any of these signs.
Signs of Anorexia
If your puppy has anorexia, he will be underweight and show signs of weight loss.
He may also refuse to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom.
He may also vomit or have diarrhea.
Puppies should never shake their legs unless they are in pain.
The shaking motion can be caused by a variety of things, including fear, excitement, or simply being scared.
If your puppy is in pain, he will likely stop moving altogether.
If your puppy does start to shake his legs, do not let him get up.
He must remain on the ground until he stops shaking.
Sometimes it takes several minutes for puppies to calm down after this happens.
When he finally stops shaking, he will probably want to run around and play again.
You can try playing fetch with him while he shakes, but wait until he stops before letting him go back outside.
Once he has stopped shaking, he should be fine to go back out.
If your puppy shakes his legs repeatedly and gets up, or if he becomes distressed when you try to help him, see a veterinarian immediately.
There could be something wrong that requires further testing.