It can be normal for pets to occasionally shake, rattle and roll, especially when they are frightened or cold. Shivering is the body’s way of trying to stay warm, and nervous Nellies often tremble in fear. But if your pet quakes without cause, there may be cause for concern.
Tremors not associated with the elements or a scary environment may be the result of metabolic disease, exposure to toxins or seizures from your pet’s brain. Tremors can range from mild head shaking to widespread shakes that affect the entire body. Severe cases will interfere with a pet’s ability to walk or stand.
There are many different types of tremors and unfortunately some dog breeds are predisposed to shakes and quakes. Bulldogs and other large breed dogs can have head tremors; old dogs can have hind limb tremors; and small dogs are prone to generalized tremors. Tremors are nothing to shake a stick at, but they are less worrisome than seizures. If no underlying cause for tremors is found, and your pet’s day-to-day activities aren’t affected, your vet may recommend just shaking them off. In the case of “Little White Shaker Syndrome,” which can affect small dogs, oral steroids can quickly help quiet the tremors.
seizing the day
Seizures, on the other hand, are a different story. Seizures like this are a result of an abnormal burst of activity from your dog’s brain to her muscles. Generalized (or grand mal) seizures affect the entire body. Pets lose consciousness and have stiffness of the muscles. They may paddle their legs as if swimming and may lose control of their bladder and bowels.
Witnessing a seizure can be scary (and might lead to your own shakes and quakes)! Try to remain calm and remember that your pet is not in pain. Stay by your pet’s side, but do not try to comfort her, as this may lead to unintended bites. Check the clock so you can time the seizure. Though it may feel like an eternity, most seizures are short. Seizures lasting over 4 or 5 minutes warrant an emergency trip to your vet.
Once your pet recovers, have plenty of food and fresh water available and then call your veterinarian so that your pet can be examined. You and your veterinarian can work together to formulate a plan that works best for your pet and your family.