Dog Trembles While Resting | 13 Most Common Causes

Dog Trembles While Resting | 13 Most Common Causes

When dogs tremble when resting, this is often an indication of existing fears or stress. In some cases, however, the tremor can also be due to neurological diseases, poisoning, pain, or even a seizure.

In addition, there are also some dogs that tremble more frequently for unknown reasons. These include the Miniature Pinscher, Chihuahua, Maltese, and the West Highland White Terrier. 

Incidentally, the initial situation can also provide information about the potential causes. Here is a rough overview:

Initial situationMost Common Causes
trembling in sleepCold, dreams, anxiety, stress, kidney problems
Trembling after vaccinationnausea, stress
Sudden tremorStroke, epilepsy, distemper, Cushing’s syndrome, neurological problems
trembling and pantingAnxiety, low blood sugar, stress, kidney problems, nausea, poisoning
Constant shakingCushing’s syndrome, kidney problems, anxiety, neurological problems, cold, stress
Trembling after surgeryNausea, stress, pain, anxiety, muscle weakness
Only hind legs tremblemuscle weakness, hypoglycemia
Trembling while drivingAnxiety, nausea, stress
tremors and vomitsNausea, kidney problems, poisoning, distemper

Then let’s use the magnifying glass to go into the individual causes.

1. Muscle Weakness

When the muscles are weak, the dog’s muscles tremble because they are being overworked. In most cases, the following factors are responsible for this:

  • Overexertion
  • Electrolyte or water deficiency
  • Monotonous movements
  • Magnesium or calcium deficiency
  • Strong psychological stress

Under certain circumstances, it can also be a symptom of the autoimmune disease “Myasthenia Gravis”. Here the signal transmission is disturbed and spasms often occur.

Affected dogs also tend to tremble a lot when resting. Other typical symptoms are:

  • Unusually rapid exhaustion
  • Dog falls over
  • Heavy drooling
  • Trouble closing your eyes
  • Sudden staggering

Terrier species, Golden Retrievers, Springer Spaniels, and German Shepherds are statistically the most frequently affected.

Unfortunately, there is still no cure for this disease. In the case of overexertion or a lack of nutrients, on the other hand, an adjustment in diet and a break from training is usually sufficient.

Dogs with muscle weakness usually have so little strength that they begin to tremble even when they are at rest. In most cases, it is due to diet or not drinking enough. In individual cases, however, an immune disease can also be responsible for this.

2. Anxiety & Stress

Acute fear and stress are usually only noticeable when the trigger is present. On the other hand, if it becomes chronic, dogs will tremble throughout the day.

The most common causes are here:

  • Noise above 85 decibels
  • Alzheimer’s in old dogs
  • Separation anxiety in loneliness
  • Lack of socialization
  • Violence in education
  • Presence of strangers
  • Protracted storms

Small breeds are affected much more often than large dogs. The same applies to very sensitive four-legged friends such as all lap dog breeds.

In addition, there are usually other causes of anxiety and stress:

  • Running with a tucked-in tail
  • Restless behavior
  • Unusual night activity
  • The constant change in berth
  • Incontinence despite being housebroken
  • trembling when lying down
  • Constant panting

Here you should first identify the possible causes. Regardless, anxious dogs need a lot of attention and mental activity.

If the causes are unclear or if there is severe anxiety, anti-anxiety medication from the veterinarian can also help. However, such means should rather be the last option.

Severe stress and anxiety can cause dogs to tremble even when at rest. In this case, other unusual symptoms can usually be identified. Here it is important to identify the trigger and then eliminate it.

3. Nausea

On average, dogs vomit much more often than humans. The reasons for this are evolutionary in nature. Dogs are originally descended from wolves, i.e. carnivores.

However, after being tamed and fed thousands of years ago, dogs increasingly became omnivores. This explains why dog ​​food also mostly contains grains and vegetables.

The problem? Their digestive system isn’t nearly as efficient as ours. Even the smallest inconsistencies can therefore trigger flatulence and nausea.

Typical triggers are:

  • Food allergies
  • Medication swallowed
  • Liver and kidney problems
  • Travel sickness
  • Food intolerance
  • Snares and overeating
  • Poisonous Plants

In the case of acute nausea, your body often begins to tremble when you are at rest. Other typical symptoms are:

  • Heavy drooling
  • Constant licking of the mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent swallowing
  • Howling and whimpering
  • Constant smacking

Short-term nausea in dogs is unfortunately relatively normal. If the symptoms persist, I advise changing the food, doing an allergy test, and going to the vet.

Dogs that suffer from nausea usually show their symptoms through heavy drooling and constant licking of their mouths. Sometimes affected dogs also start to tremble when lying down. The aim here is to find out the cause and then initiate appropriate measures.

4. Cold

Shivering from the cold is a survival mechanism for many mammals. Because the rapid muscle contractions stimulate and promote blood circulation.

As a result, more warm blood circulates in the body and the body temperature rises as a result. Short-haired and hairless dogs freeze the quickest.

But even small dog breeds and dogs with little body fat are very sensitive to cold and draft. Typical signs of a cold are:

  • The dog seeks physical contact
  • tremors at rest
  • Constant beeping
  • Strongly curled up sleeping position
  • Night Activity

For short-haired dogs, I recommend a winter coat in fall, winter, and spring. It also helps to position the basket near a radiator.

Warm blankets and sealing the doors can also help here. If your dog is feeling very cold, it could also be life-threatening “hypothermia.”

Here you should act immediately, raise the body temperature and call the vet as a precaution. However, this usually only happens after prolonged exposure to the cold.

Cold is one of the most common causes of tremors in dogs. When there is a cold draft or the room temperature is too low, dogs start to tremble even when they are at rest. Warming coats, blankets, and a warm cuddle unit usually help here.

5. Neurological Problems

Tremors are essentially just rapid muscle contractions of the body. And these contractions are in turn initiated via the nerves from the brain.

For this reason, injuries and diseases of the brain can also be responsible for constant shaking. Typical causes are here:

  • Inflammation
  • Epilepsy
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Injuries to the spine
  • Stroke
  • Tumor diseases

In almost all cases, these diseases are accompanied by other visible signs. The most common symptoms include:

  • Strong confusion
  • The dog is acting weird
  • Tremors at rest
  • Disorientation in familiar surroundings
  • Nocturnal wandering
  • The dog keeps turning in circles
  • Unusual stubbornness and ignorance

If you suspect this, you should contact the veterinarian immediately. Because the earlier the cause is diagnosed, the better the chances of treatment.

Neurological problems can cause dogs to act oddly and start shaking even when lying down. In addition, they often react aggressively and make a confused impression. The veterinarian should be consulted immediately.

6. Hypo

The level of sugar in the blood ensures that all the muscles and organs get enough energy to perform their specific task.

However, if there is not enough energy available, dogs often start to tremble when they are at rest. This accelerates blood circulation and thus the supply.

Hypoglycaemia usually manifests itself with other symptoms: 

  • Frequent cramps
  • Loss of coordination
  • The dog is quickly exhausted
  • Listlessness
  • Muscle twitches

The most common causes for this are:

  • Overexertion
  • Food low in carbohydrates
  • Liver problems
  • Irregular feeding
  • Tumor diseases

If you suspect it, I recommend going to the vet. This usually takes a blood sample to measure the blood sugar level.

Depending on the cause, a change in diet, an adjustment in lifestyle, or even medication may be necessary for treatment.

Acute or chronic hypoglycemia can cause dogs to tremble even when at rest. In most cases, the cause here is overexertion in combination with a low-carbohydrate feed. However, to be on the safe side, the veterinarian should be consulted.

7. Kidney Problems

The kidneys are primarily responsible for filtering out and excreting toxic or intolerable substances. It is also essential for regulating blood circulation.

In the event of problems, the symptoms usually only become apparent when a large part of the kidney is no longer functioning. Typical signs are here:

  • Unusually strong thirst
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Constant shaking
  • Feeling weak
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Weight Loss

Problems are often caused by the dog swallowing something toxic. Medicines, toxic foods, cleaning supplies, and chemicals are common here.

Basically, kidney problems can also be genetic, come with age or just be a symptom of other diseases.

Both a blood and a urine sample are usually taken for diagnosis. Depending on the cause, the appropriate treatment is then derived.

Kidney problems can sometimes cause dogs to tremble constantly, even when at rest. In most cases, the problems stem from swallowing toxic things. The vet can help here.

8. Epilepsy

Colloquially, epilepsy is also referred to as a “seizure”. Because the neurological disease causes the nerves to be overstrained for a short time.

Strong and uncontrollable spasms are therefore among the most common symptoms. Other typical signs are here:

  • Foaming mouth
  • Trembling when lying down
  • Sudden fall
  • Excessive drooling
  • Fainting
  • Unresponsive

Statistically, around 1% of all dogs suffer from epilepsy. Puppies and male dogs are most commonly affected. Typical triggers here are:

  • Poisoning
  • Brain injuries
  • Liver diseases
  • Brain tumors
  • Anemia
  • Kidney diseases
  • Strokes

In this case, you should see the vet immediately. Although the attacks themselves are usually painless, they can be a sign of other diseases.

Around one in 100 dogs suffers from epilepsy, which causes seizures on a regular basis. Among other things, epileptic dogs often tremble at rest and drool unusually much. Here the veterinarian should be consulted.

9. Pain

Unlike humans, dogs instinctively try to hide the pain. This behavior is embedded in their genes and originally comes from wolves.

The reasons? Wolves that look weak are often rejected by their own pack as they become targets for other predators.

Above a certain pain threshold, however, they still express their pain. In addition to constant trembling, there are usually other symptoms:

  • Sudden limp
  • Howling, whimpering, and whimpering
  • Restless walking around
  • Touch sensitivity
  • Stooped posture
  • Tail between the legs

If your dog is a little older, arthritis could be to blame. Here the joints become inflamed, causing all movements to cause pain.

Stomach pain, broken glass in the paws, and back pain are also common. To prevent unnecessary pain, I recommend going to the vet here.

The pain of any kind can sometimes manifest itself as a tremor at rest. As a rule, affected dogs also make other sounds and behave strangely. A visit to the vet can help here.

10. Distemper

Distemper has been a mandatory vaccination in Germany since the 1980s. It is a viral disease primarily transmitted by dogs and cats.

Street dogs from abroad or young and not yet vaccinated puppies are the most frequently affected nowadays. The disease can be transmitted in a number of ways:

  • Saliva
  • Urine
  • Blood

Sometimes distemper can also be transmitted through the air when you sneeze. In addition to permanent tremors, there are usually other symptoms here:

  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Strong fever
  • Constant coughing
  • Listlessness
  • Strong twitches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Head tilted to one side

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this yet. The viral disease is often fatal. And if not, it usually leaves behind permanent nerve damage.

However, the symptoms can sometimes be treated very well with medication. You should definitely visit the vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Distemper is one of the most common viral diseases in wild dogs and is usually fatal. Trembling at rest is just one of many possible symptoms. In order to alleviate the symptoms, the veterinarian should be consulted here.

11. Cushing’s Syndrome

Dogs with Cushing’s syndrome produce too much cortisol due to the disease. This in turn means that the dog’s body is always on the alert.

Cushing’s syndrome is therefore also known as “trembling syndrome”. Because the stress hormone is accompanied by a permanent tremor. Other symptoms are here:

  • Constant panting
  • Lack of energy
  • Unusually strong thirst
  • Restless walking around
  • Severe hunger

According to statistics, a tumor in the pituitary gland is responsible for this in 4 out of 5 cases. But other diseases can also be behind it.

Depending on the type and severity of the cause, medication or even surgery may be necessary. Here you should visit the veterinarian.

In rare cases, Cushing’s syndrome can also be responsible for the tremors at rest. It is usually triggered by a pea-sized tumor in the pituitary gland. The veterinarian should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.

12. Poisoning

Poisoning is one of the most common reasons why dog ​​owners visit the vet in Germany. Swallowing the following things is usually the cause here:

  • Chocolate, grapes, and raisins
  • Alcohol hops and the sugar alcohol “xylitol”
  • Medicines and drugs of people
  • Toxic plants and chemicals
  • Detergents and Pesticides

Unusual twitches and constant tremors at rest are among the most common effects here. Other typical signs of this are:

  • Listlessness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Aversion to physical activity
  • Constant licking of the mouth
  • Excessive drooling

If you suspect poisoning, I advise you to contact the vet immediately. In the case of mild poisoning, waiting is often sufficient. But it can also be an emergency.

Various types of poisoning can cause dogs to vomit and lose their appetite. Twitching and constant shaking are also common here. In case of suspicion, the veterinary emergency clinic should be consulted immediately.

13. Stroke

Strokes are the result of certain areas of the brain not being properly supplied with blood. A blockage in an artery is usually responsible for this.

But internal bleeding in the brain can also be the trigger. But that is comparatively rare. The most common symptoms of this are:

  • Coordination problems
  • Head tilted to one side
  • Dog falls over
  • Tremors at rest
  • Unusual behavior
  • Fainting

In most cases, such a stroke lasts only 1-3 minutes. Stroke is also a leading cause of death in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

If you suspect it, you should contact the veterinary emergency service immediately. Under certain circumstances, strokes can be fatal or even indicate other illnesses.

When dogs suddenly fall over or have severe coordination problems, this can indicate a stroke. Among other things, affected dogs often hold their heads to the side and begin to tremble when they are at rest.

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