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Why does my dog shake and not eat?

Why does my dog shake and not eat?

If you have a dog, you know how worrisome it can be when it won’t eat; these fears are compounded when your dog is also shivering or shaking, and it could warrant an emergency trip to the vet. If this behavior persists longer than a couple of hours, consider seeing your vet. This is the only way to rule out a serious medical issue when your dog is shaking and not eating.

Why does my dog shake and not eat?

There are numerous common causes of shaking or trembling among dogs- especially smaller breeds. Some significant medical issues often manifest symptoms that include shivering or tremors, so while it could be something as simple and benign as a chill, do not underestimate what could be going on with your pet.

If your dog has not been vaccinated, shaking or trembling may be a sign of distemper. Usually, this is more common among younger puppies. If left untreated, the condition may worsen to the point where your dog may not be feeling well enough to eat.

Some other reasons why dogs shake, tremble,  and will not eat include:


Just like people, when dogs get older, they can become shaky. That is, they can adopt tremors when they become geriatric. In humans, this may affect the hands or face primarily; in dogs, it will likely initially impact the front and hind legs first.


Shakiness or trembling may also be a sign that your pet is in pain. If your pet is older, it could be arthritis pain which may make it uncomfortable to walk. Some pets may become shaky due to dental pain, which is a very common problem for dogs- especially those that are not vigilant or cooperative with dental care. See a vet across the span of your pet’s life to address chronic pain issues throughout the aging process.


Is it possible that your pet got into something toxic, like chocolate, tobacco, or alcohol? Artificial sweeteners, like xylitol, are also dangerously poisonous for dogs. If you treat your yard or garden for pests, this could also be an issue.

Know that snail traps and bait can cause your dog to experience seizures. Some other symptoms to look out for include drooling, vomiting, lethargy, confusion, and diarrhea. Poisoning can be fatal; seek veterinary help immediately.


Seizures can also cause shakiness, and shaky dogs can be diagnosed with Epilepsy. When a dog has an epileptic seizure, typically they fall on their side and appear to paddle their limbs. They may also foam at the mouth and twitch. If you believe your dog has had a seizure, contact your vet for further advice and instructions.

Some other medical conditions earmarked by shakiness include kidney disease, liver disease, and tremor syndrome. A couple of less common and very serious causes of shaking in dogs include neurological conditions and brain diseases. Again, seek out veterinary advice if you are concerned about your pet’s wellbeing.

What should I do about my dog shaking and not eating?

When you first notice that your dog appears to be shaking, take time out to warm them up in case it is just due to being cold. Smaller breeds especially can easily catch a chill that causes them to quiver, shiver, and quake- try giving them a snuggle with a warm blanket and see if this helps.

If your dog is shaking and not eating much of anything, try to tempt your pooch with a treat or something that they normally really enjoy eating. You can also try foods that may have appeal to pets with little to no appetite, like cooked pumpkin or sweet potato. These are good for relieving an upset stomach and full of fiber to aid in digestion, which can make sick pets feel better quickly.

Boiled chicken and rice are another option for dogs that don’t feel up to par. It will be tough for them to resist, and it is gentle on their belly. Baby foods are another way to lure pets into eating and a sneaky way to conceal any prescribed meds that the veterinarian has ordered.

Give your pet supervised (leashed or fenced-in) access to the outdoors when they don’t feel well, as sometimes chewing on grass can help.

If your dog is shaking and not eating for a prolonged period, it is time to take action. See a veterinarian to rule out a serious issue. If you believe that your dog is nauseous, it is possible that it has eaten something toxic.

Why is my dog shaking before eating?

Shivering or shaking is typically a sign of stress, so what if your dog is shaking before they eat a meal? It could be a sign of fearfulness if the shaking is accompanied by flat ears, tucked tail, or avoidant eye contact. This could be an issue related to the pack if you have other dogs in the household.

Perhaps your dog is being submissive to the pack leader at mealtime; take time to observe and get to know the distinct personality traits of each one of your pets. It can be very enlightening and informative as an owner caring for the dogs, but it can also be quite fascinating to see how the pecking order works in the animal kingdom.

If your dog is shaking and will not eat the food in front of her, or is shaking following a meal, it could be stomach upset or discomfort that is causing the issue. Perhaps the dog ate too much or the food simply did not agree with them.

Shaking in these instances could be a sign of nausea. There is also the possibility of a food allergy or sensitivity that is leading to these uncharacteristic behaviors, like shaking and not eating. The only way to figure out a food allergy is to try a restrictive diet- talk to your veterinary provider to learn more about this.