Noticing your dog panting and shaking will strike worry in any dog owner’s heart.
But, there’s no need to panic…
While there are a wide range of causes, the most common are fear or stress.
Below, you’ll learn what normal and abnormal panting and shaking are.
You’ll also learn possible causes, how to handle them, and when your dog should see a veterinarian.
Panting and Shaking: Let’s Be Clear What’s Normal
Dogs don’t have sweat glands to cool themselves like us. They instead use pores on their tongue to cool themselves by panting.
Normal panting from exercise or excitement shouldn’t last longer than a few minutes and is usually not labored or difficult.
For dogs at rest, 10 to 35 breaths per minute is normal. The average being 24 breaths per minute.
You can check the breathing rate of your dog by counting the number of chest expansions for 15 seconds and multiplying it by four to get the breaths per minute.
This will occur at unusual times such as when your dog is resting and not overheated or excited. They may also be breathing heavy and exerting more energy to breath.
Shaking is normal for dogs. Any dog owner is familiar with how our furry friends shake to dry themselves.
Dogs also shake to release excited energy or wake up from a nap. As dogs get older it is not unusual for them to have some mild shaking and trembling.
However, shaking or trembling that seems unusual and lasts longer than a few minutes may be cause for concern.
Shaking is not to be confused for a seizure.
When shaking, your dog will still have control of their body. While seizures will cause them to uncontrollably shake and collapse.
If your dog is having a seizure contact a veterinarian immediately.
Causes of Shaking and Panting in Dogs
1. Stress or Fear
This is by far the most common cause of shaking and panting. Dogs will often try to hide or will become clingy and won’t leave your side.
You should identify what’s causing the stress or fear and remove it. Prolonged stress or fear may lead to psychological or health issues.
Common causes of stress:
- Loud noises(fireworks, sirens, etc.)
- An unfamiliar dog or animal
- A new environment
As many dog owners know, excitement causes dogs to pant, shake, and do all sorts of goofy things. Even for the most excited pooch, panting and shaking should stop once they have calmed down.
3. Heat stroke(hyperthermia)
Heat stroke or hyperthermia occurs when the core body temperature rises above normal levels.
This is most likely to occur on hot days when your dog has been expending a lot of energy.
Dogs will chase a ball for hours even if it’s 100 degrees outside. It’s up to you to judge when your dog needs to rest, get some water, and stay out of the heat.
Other symptoms include:
- Red or pale gums
- Bright red tongue
- Thick saliva
If your dog ingests a toxic substance or food they may develop an extreme reaction.
Panting and shaking will likely be accompanied by one or more of the following:
- Loss of appetite
If your dog has any of the above symptoms along with panting and shaking you should get them to a vet immediately.
Infections tend to cause a fever. This increase in body temperature may cause panting and shaking.
If you suspect your dog may have a fever, it’s a good idea to check their body temperature. For dogs, this is typically done with a rectal thermometer.
The normal body temperature for dogs is between 101 and 102.5 F. If your dog’s temperature is outside this range you should have them examined by a vet.
Other symptoms may also occur depending on the location and type of infection.
6. Internal Injuries
If your dog has an internal injury or bleeding they will likely behave unusually.
In addition to panting and shaking they may act lethargic, whimper when touched, or have black diarrhea.
If your dog has any of these symptoms you should take them to a vet as this can be life threatening.
7. Severe pain
When dogs are in pain they don’t always show it in an obvious way. Shaking and panting may be their best way of dealing with intense pain.
Dog’s in pain may be restless, whimper, and have a decreased appetite.
If you suspect this is the cause of your dog’s panting and shaking you should have them examined by a vet.
8. Heart problems
If the heart is not functioning properly, fluid or the heart itself may put pressure on the lungs making breathing difficult.
Your dog may begin panting to get more oxygen. Shaking may also occur from decreased circulation throughout the body.
A vet can check your dog’s heart to rule out potential heart problems.
In the medical world the term “shock” has a different meaning than most are used to.
Shock occurs when there is not adequate blood flow through the body for it to function properly.
This can be caused by physical trauma, internal bleeding, heart failure, poisoning, and various other causes.
Dogs that are in shock will have suppressed breathing that may turn into panting in later stages. Body temperature will also drop, potentially causing them to shake or shiver.
This is a very serious condition which requires a veterinarian immediately.
10. Low blood sugar
This can happen to any dog, but is most common for diabetic dogs as result of receiving too much insulin. Shaking or trembling is a common symptom.
Other symptoms include:
- Lethargy or weakness
- Sudden change of appetite
- Blurred vision
- Heart palpitations
Call your vet for advice on how to safely increase your dog’s blood sugar level.
11. Addison’s disease
This is a rare endocrine disorder where the adrenal gland does not produce sufficient amounts of particular hormones. Shaking is a common symptom.
Some other symptoms may include:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Blood in feces
- Hair loss
- Increased thirst
If you have eliminated all other causes on this list, you may want to have a vet check your dog for Addison’s disease.
Conclusion: Dog Panting and Shaking
Fear or stress are the most likely causes of your dog’s panting and shaking.
However, you should be aware of any other symptoms as they may point to something more serious.
Be sure to keep a close eye for any signs of difficulty breathing or changes in behavior. If you notice any difficulty breathing or abnormal behavior you should get them to a vet.