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Why do my puppy’s legs shake?

Why do my puppy’s legs shake?

Your puppy is a part of the family, and it’s natural to worry if you notice them shaking. Many times a puppy’s legs shaking is perfectly normal, and nothing to worry about. However, it can indicate a serious problem. 

Why do my puppy’s legs shake?

You are playing with your puppy, and suddenly you notice them shaking. You wonder if something is wrong. Are they sick? Should you be worried? 

Shaking Puppy Syndrome

Shaking puppy syndrome affects puppies from a young age. It can begin as early as 2 weeks old. Shaking puppy syndrome occurs because the sheath that covers the nerves, known as myelin, is too thin. This allows the electrical impulses that control nerves to get lost, which causes the nerves and muscles to malfunction. 

In addition to shaking, puppies with shaking puppy syndrome may also have difficulty walking, and struggle with balance and coordination. 

Their legs may be further apart than is normal, because they are trying to keep themselves stable.  

It tends to get worse when the puppy is excited, and stop when the puppy is calm or resting. Puppies appear fine mentally, and only struggle with physical nervous system issues. 

Pain or Injury

Pain or injury can also cause your dog’s legs to shake. When dogs are in pain, they tend to shake. Your puppy  may have a leg deformity that causes the pain, or they may have injured their leg. 

If pain is the cause of the shaking, you’ll probably notice your dog limping or whining  when walking. They may also lick the area that is causing pain often. This is an attempt to relieve the pain. 

Stress or Anxiety

Stress or anxiety can also cause your puppy to shake. Just like humans, dogs can shake when nervous, stressed, or scared. 

Typically, you’ll notice other symptoms in addition to shaking. Signs of anxiety include panting, excessive licking, barking or whining, and urinating. 

If anxiety seems to be triggering your puppy’s shakes, try to pinpoint the source. Remember the world is still new for your puppy. They may find the world scary and unfamiliar. 

Loud noises, new people or situations, and separation anxiety can all trigger stress or anxiety. 

Low sugar levels

Low sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can also cause tremors in puppies. Hypoglycemia can be triggered by a number of issues. Exercise, going too long between meal times, stress, and intestinal parasites can all trigger hypoglycemia. 

Puppies are at a higher risk than adult dogs. They haven’t mastered regulating their blood sugar levels. They also have high energy and metabolism, which gives them a greater need for glucose, or sugar. 

In addition to tremors, low sugar levels can cause several symptoms. These include loss of appetite, extreme lethargy, and loss of coordination. 

It can also cause discolored skin and gums. Severe hypoglycemia can cause seizures, coma, and death. 

High Salt

Salt is essential for dogs, just as it is for humans. However, too much salt can make your puppy very ill. A common cause of salt toxicity is feeding your puppy people foods that are high in salt.

High salt levels can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite. Lethargy, loss of coordination, and excessive urination and thirst also occur.  

Severe salt toxicity can cause shaking, seizures, and death. This type of salt toxicity requires emergency veterinary treatment. 


Dehydration occurs when your puppy doesn’t have enough water in their body. They are at a higher risk of dehydration than adult dogs. 

Dehydration can be caused by vomiting or diarrhea. Hot weather can also lead to dehydration if your puppy doesn’t drink enough water. 

If dehydration is causing your puppy to shake, it is severe. Other signs of dehydration include cold limbs, lethargy, and sunken eyeballs. 

You can check your puppy for dehydration by checking their gums. If your puppy is dehydrated, their gums will be pale, dry, or tacky. Normal gums are pink and moist. 

You can  also perform the capillary test. Place your finger on your puppy gums, applying pressure. When you remove your finger, the area will be white. The area should return to a pink color within 2 seconds. 

If it takes longer than 4 seconds for the gum to become pink, your puppy is severely dehydrated. They need immediate veterinary care.


Fatigue can also cause your puppy to shake. You may have experienced this yourself. Have you ever exercised vigorously, and then found your muscles or limbs shaking when you begin to rest? 

Your puppy can experience the same thing. If they’ve recently been doing high intensity exercise or playing, this may be the cause. 


Cold can also cause your puppy to shake. Puppies are not as good as temperature regulation as adult dogs. If your puppy is cold, they may curl up to get warm. 

Central Nervous System Problem

Central nervous system problems can occur from several causes. These include infection, cancer, tumors, brain injuries, and seizures. 

Other symptoms of central nervous system problems may include fever, confusion or disorientation, and loss of coordination. 

Why do my puppy’s front legs shake when sitting?

If your puppy’s front legs are shaking when sitting, it’s probably just normal growth. As your puppy grows, their body is adjusting. It’s normal for puppies to shake occasionally, particularly when they are sitting. 

If you notice them shaking frequently, or they show signs of sickness, there may be another cause. In this case, check the causes mentioned above. 

What to do about my puppy’s legs shaking?

What to do about your puppy’s legs shaking will depend on the cause of the shaking. 


If they seem cold, you can hold them or cover them with a blanket. You may also need to raise the temperature in your home a bit as well. If they are very cold, you can warm a towel or blanket in the dryer and then wrap it around them. 

Stress or Anxiety

If your puppy has stress or anxiety, eliminate the source of the stress if possible. Of course, this isn’t always feasible. You can provide comfort for your puppy by petting them or speaking to them gently. 

Give them a place that is theirs. This should be a quiet area, where they have a few of their favorite toys. Allow them to go to their area when they need to relax. 

You can also play with your puppy. This can help keep their mind occupied, which will help them relax. 


If your puppy is simply tired, they just need some rest. You may need to lower their activity level a bit. 


If they have mild dehydration, simply provide plenty of water. If dehydration is severe, or your puppy isn’t drinking, you’ll need to get them to the vet. 

Low Blood Sugar

Mild cases of low blood sugar can be treated by feeding them. If they are having tremors, however, they need a vet visit immediately. You may need to change their meal times, or split them up to provide them with another meal. 

When to see a vet about a puppy’s legs shaking

Some cases of shaking can be treated at home, or simply monitored. However, there are signs that you should take your pup to the vet. 

Occassional Shaking

If your puppy shakes occasionally, without showing any other symptoms, it’s probably nothing to worry about. You can monitor them for any other symptoms at home. If you are concerned, you can give your vet a call. 

Frequent Shaking

If your puppy shakes frequently, you should get them checked out by the vet. It’s possible that it’s simply a normal part of their growth, but it can also indicate a serious condition. 


If your puppy is lethargic, this is another sign they need to be seen by their vet. Lethargy can indicate a number of health problems, and is concerning when accompanied by shaking. 

Loss of Coordination 

Loss of coordination is another concerning symptom. If your puppy is shaking and has a loss of coordination, they may  be experiencing a nervous system disorder. Loss of coordination can occur due to many things, including hypoglycemia, salt toxicity, and shaking puppy syndrome. 

 Signs of Pain 

If your puppy seems to be in pain, this is also a reason to take them to the vet. This can be caused by injury or a leg deformation. These issues require veterinary treatment. These issues can get worse without treatment. 


If your puppy has signs of dehydration, this also requires veterinary attention. This can occur during hot weather, or due to vomiting or diarrhea. Severe dehydration can be fatal if not treated. 


Fever can indicate an infection. If an infection is causing your puppy to shake, it is serious, and should be considered a veterinary emergency.