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Why do Dogs Shake Their Bodies?

 
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. May 27, 2019
Why do Dogs Shake Their Bodies?

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As a dog lover, you’ve probably noticed that your dog shakes itself a lot, but why? Dogs shake themselves for many different reasons, some being shaking to relieve stress, tension or irritation and or as a symptom of a health problem. If you’re wondering why do dogs shake when they get up and more, this article is for you!

For more about why do dogs shake their bodies, keep reading here at AnimalWised where we analyze this behavior in depth.

You may also be interested in: Why Does my Greyhound Shake?

Why do dogs shake?

There is no one single reason that can explain why dogs shake. Canine body language is incredibly complex and the same behavior, depending on context, may differ largely in meaning.

If you want to know why your dog shakes, you need to also consider your dog’s general behavior, overall body language and environment. It’s also important to identify whether these jolts are sudden or recurring, for example, do they only happen when your dog is wet or all the time?

If you’re wanting to better understand your pup, we recommend reading our article where we analyze dog body language and calming signs.

And for more about ‘‘Why dogs shake themselves.’’ Keep reading below:

Why do dogs shake off?

You’ve probably noticed that your dog shakes after a bath or swim, which is normal dog after bath behavior. Dogs shake when they get wet because, by reproducing this movement quickly and intensely, they can eliminate water that has accumulated on the mantle and on the skin. Shaking acts as a natural drying method for dogs, helping them avoid cold and discomfort.

However, if you notice that your dog isn’t managing to dry itself fully by shaking, we suggest that you help with a towel. The accumulation of moisture on a dog’s skin and hair favors the proliferation of pathogenic microorganisms and this needs to be avoided.

For more, we suggest taking a look at our article where we discuss how to bathe a dog at home.

Why do Dogs Shake Their Bodies? - Why do dogs shake off?

Dog shaking off stress

Many dog lovers wonder why their dogs are shaking even when completely dry. The main cause for this type of dog shaking is due to stress or boredom.

Boredom and stress in dogs are commonly associated with a sedentary routine and/or a negative environment. When dogs do not receive adequate physical and mental stimulation or are not offered an enriched environment, they tend to find other ways to relieve accumulated tension and energy.

Shaking in dogs is one of the most common symptoms of stress in dogs. A dog shaking can help reduce muscle tension, offering it a sense of relief. In the event that this boring and/or stressful routine continues, a dog may suffer from additional behavioral problems, such as destructiveness.

In more serious cases, when stress in dogs becomes chronic, a dog can even present stereotypies. The stereotypies are characterized by the incessant repetition of certain behaviors or actions, such as shaking. Therefore, if you notice that your dog is shaking excessively, we recommend that you consult an ethologist or veterinarian. For more, we recommend taking a look at our article where we discuss everything you need to know about compulsive behavior in dogs.

Why do dogs shake when they wake up?

When getting up or waking up, it’s normal for dogs to shake. This shaking helps wake a dog up, preparing its body for the new day. It’s also very common for dogs to shake when they leave the home, especially during the winter. In this case, shaking helps alleviate the strange sensation generated by a sudden change in temperature. This is especially common when a dog leaves a heated environment for a cold one.

For this reason, it’s very important to remember that not only do dogs feel the cold, but low temperatures can also seriously damage a dog’s health. In winter, dogs are more vulnerable to suffering from colds and the flu. For this reason, it is essential to protect your dog from the cold. For more, read about colds in dogs.

Why do Dogs Shake Their Bodies? - Why do dogs shake when they wake up?

Dog shaking and parasites

If your dog tends to spend a lot of time outside, it’s very likely that it will come into contact with dirt, twigs, leaves, dirt and grass. In this case, it’s normal that a dog will shake to remove leftover residues from the coat and skin, preventing these objects from causing itching, discomfort or disease.

Is your dog shaking and scratching constantly or excessively? In this case, your dog may be suffering from fleas, mites or ticks. The bites of these ectoparasites can cause discomfort and itching, which could explain why a dog is shaking excessively. Dogs need to follow an appropriate deworming schedule strictly in order to prevent parasite infestation.

In summer, it’s very common to see dogs shake to scare off mosquitoes and other insects. In addition to being incredibly annoying, there are several diseases that mosquitoes can transmit to dogs, such as canine leishmaniasis and heartworm (also known as "heartworm"). For more about these, we suggest taking a look at our article where we list the most common mosquito-borne diseases in dogs.

Why do dogs shake their heads?

Have you noticed that your dog is shaking its head and scratching its ears? These are both common symptoms of canine otitis or the the presence of a foreign body in the ear canal.

Check your dog’s ears to identify whether there are any signs of inflammation or infection, such as reddened skin or an unpleasant odor.

Otitis in dogs

Otitis in dogs is one of the most common dog diseases and is characterized by an inflammation of the ear canal usually associated with an infection. Otitis in dogs symptoms may appear suddenly or manifest gradually, depending a dog’s health status and ear hygiene. The most common symptoms of otitis in dogs include:

  • Unpleasant smell in the ear region
  • Inflammation of the auditory canal, which usually causes the external skin to appear reddened and thick
  • Constant ear and or head shaking in dogs
  • Scratching of the head, especially close to the ears
  • Sensitivity or pain in the ears
  • A cocked head
  • Secretion in the ear canal
  • Excessive formation of wax
  • Loss of balance
  • Walking in circles
  • Partial or total loss of hearing
  • Alterations in behavior: your dog may appear sadder than usual or irritated

How to clean my dog’s ears?

One of the best ways to prevent otitis in dogs is by regularly cleaning your dog’s ears. Proper hygiene measure are essential to avoid the accumulation of dirt and moisture in the ears, helping to prevent infections. Dog breeds that have a natural predisposition to developing otitis include Labrador retrievers, Cocker spaniels, Beagles and Shar Peis.

Many guardians are afraid to clean their dogs' ears for fear of hurting them. For more about how to clean a dog’s ears safely, we recommend reading our article where we offer a step by step to cleaning a dog’s ears.

In all of the above mentioned causes of dogs shaking, we recommend consulting a veterinarian in order to diagnose the condition correctly and treat it accordingly.

Why do Dogs Shake Their Bodies? - Why do dogs shake their heads?

Why do dogs shake their bodies: additional causes

Two additional possible causes behind why a dog shakes include:

  • Anal gland problems in dogs: a dog that has problems emptying its anal glands will drag its bum on the ground as well as shake to relieve discomfort. If you believe that your dog is suffering from anal gland problems, you should consult your veterinarian in order to check whether or not your dog’s anal glands are inflamed. To help you, we suggest taking a look at our article where we discuss why does my dog drag his bum on the ground?
  • After a grooming or petting: if your thinking, ‘‘My dog keeps shaking his whole body after being groomed,’’ It’s likely because most dogs feel restrained when we try to hug them or groom them for too long. Therefore, it’s normal for a dog to shake after such sessions to relieve tension.

For more about dog shaking and canine behavior, we suggest reading:

If you want to read similar articles to Why do Dogs Shake Their Bodies?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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