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Why dogs shake and pant?

Why Does My Dog Shake and Pant?

Why Does My Dog Shake and Pant?

As pet owners, we often find ourselves captivated by our furry friends' mysterious ways of communication. Two common behaviors that can leave us puzzled are dog shaking and panting. If you've ever wondered what these behaviors signify, you're not alone.

Shaking and panting are two ways dogs communicate non-verbally, and understanding their meaning can help us become better pet parents. While shaking can indicate a range of emotions such as excitement, fear, or even happiness, panting is primarily used by dogs to cool down. However, it's important to distinguish between normal and excessive shaking or panting, as they may be indicators of underlying health issues.

In this article, we'll delve into the intriguing world of canine communication and discuss the following:

  • Understanding Dog Body Language
  • The Significance of Shaking in Dogs
  • Different Types of Dog Shaking and Their Meanings
  • The Role of Panting in Dog Communication
  • Common Reasons Why Dogs Pant Excessively
  • How to Interpret Dog Shaking and Panting Together
  • Tips for Addressing Shaking and Panting in Dogs
  • Seeking Professional Help for Dog Behavior Issues
  • Role of CBD Oil in Dog Shaking and Panting
  • Building a Strong Bond Through Understanding Canine Communication


Dog shaking off

Understanding Dog Body Language

Dogs have a rich and complex language that they use to communicate with us and other dogs. Understanding their body language is crucial in deciphering their emotions and needs. One aspect of their communication is shaking. When a dog shakes, it can indicate various emotions and states of being.

The first step in understanding dog shaking is to observe the context in which it occurs. Is your dog shaking after a bath or a swim? This type of shaking is usually a natural reaction to get rid of excess water. It helps to keep their fur dry and maintain their body temperature. On the other hand, if your dog shakes when they are scared or anxious, it may be a sign that they are trying to release tension or communicate their discomfort.

It's essential to pay attention to other accompanying body language cues when interpreting your dog's shaking. Are their ears pinned back, tails tucked between their legs, or are they exhibiting other signs of fear or stress? These additional cues can help provide a more comprehensive understanding of their emotional state.

Remember, each dog is unique, and their shaking behavior may vary. By observing and understanding your dog's body language, you can gain valuable insights into their emotions and improve your communication with them.


an excited dog shaking

The Significance of Shaking in Dogs

Shaking is a common behavior in dogs, and it can have different meanings depending on the situation (Fries, W. & Farmer, V., 2023). One of the most common reasons dogs shake is to release excess energy or excitement.

You may notice your dog shaking with anticipation before a walk or when they see their favorite toy. This type of shaking is often accompanied by a wagging tail and a playful demeanor. It's a positive and natural behavior that signals their enthusiasm.

However, not all shaking is related to excitement. Dogs may also shake when they are anxious or fearful. This shaking is usually accompanied by other signs of stress, such as vocalization, excessive pacing, changes in body posture (tucking tail, being rigid, flat ears), aggressiveness, and poor appetite (Montgomery J. & Fontana, L., 2023). It's important to identify the triggers that cause this type of shaking and address them to help your dog feel more secure and relaxed.

In some cases, shaking can be a sign of pain or discomfort (Boldan, M., 2023). If your dog is shaking and exhibiting other signs of distress, such as limping or whining, it's crucial to seek veterinary attention. Pain-related shaking can indicate various health issues, including injuries, arthritis, or even more serious conditions.

Understanding the significance of shaking in dogs can help you respond appropriately to your furry friend's needs and ensure their well-being.


a dog shaking

Different Types of Dog Shaking and Their Meanings

Dog shaking can manifest in different ways, each carrying its meaning. By recognizing the various types of shaking, you can gain a deeper understanding of what your dog is trying to communicate.


The Playful Shake

This type of shaking is often seen during playtime or when your dog is excited. It's characterized by a vigorous, full-body shake, usually accompanied by a wagging tail and a playful demeanor (Grenus, B., 2023). The playful shake is a positive and natural behavior that indicates your dog's happiness and enthusiasm.


The Stress Shake

Dogs may shake when they are stressed, anxious, or fearful. This type of shaking is typically accompanied by other signs of stress, such as pacing, excessive panting, whining, and obsessively licking their lips or paws. The stress shake is a way for dogs to release tension and communicate their discomfort (Stinchcombe, C. & Harrison, B., 2023). If your dog exhibits this type of shaking, it's important to identify the underlying cause and provide them with a safe and calm environment.


The Medical Shake

Shaking can also be a symptom of underlying health issues such as Canine Distemper, Hepatic Encephalopathy, Hypoglycemia, Hypocalcemia, neurological disorders, or toxins (Boldan, M., 2023). If your dog is shaking excessively and shows signs of distress, it's crucial to seek veterinary attention.

The medical shake can be a sign of pain, discomfort, or illness (
Helmer, J. & Sarah J. Wooten, S., 2023). Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose and address any health issues that may be causing your dog's shaking.

Understanding the different types of dog shaking can help you interpret your dog's behavior and respond accordingly. By recognizing the underlying emotions and needs behind the shaking, you can provide the appropriate care and support for your furry friend.


a dog panting

The Role of Panting in Dog Communication

Panting is another common behavior in dogs and plays a vital role in their communication. While humans primarily sweat to cool down, dogs don't have sweat glands all over their bodies (LaMon, V., 2023). Instead, they regulate their body temperature through panting.

Panting helps dogs dissipate heat and maintain their body temperature within a safe range. It's a natural cooling mechanism that allows them to release excess body heat through evaporation. Dogs pant when they are hot, after physical exertion, or when they are excited or anxious.

Panting can also be a sign of stress or discomfort (Fries, W. & Farmer, V., 2023). If your dog is panting excessively and shows signs of distress, such as noisy open-mouth breathing, tongue hanging out, rapid and shallow breathing, and pale or blue gums, it's important to address the underlying cause (MacMillan, R., 2021).

Excessive panting can indicate heatstroke, respiratory issues, pain, or anxiety, and it's crucial to seek veterinary attention if you're concerned about your dog's well-being.

By understanding the role of panting in dog communication, you can better interpret your dog's needs and ensure their comfort and safety.


Drooling dogs panting in a hot summer

Common Reasons Why Dogs Pant Excessively

Excessive panting in dogs can be a cause for concern and may indicate an underlying health issue or environmental stressor. While panting is a normal behavior, persistent or excessive panting should not be ignored. Here are some common reasons why dogs pant excessively:


Heat and Overexertion

Dogs rely on panting to cool down, especially in hot weather or after physical exertion. Excessive panting in these situations is usually a natural response to regulate their body temperature (Montgomery J. & Fontana, L., 2024). However, it's important to ensure that your dog has access to shade, fresh water, and a cool environment to prevent overheating.


Anxiety and Stress

Dogs may pant excessively when they are anxious or stressed. This can occur in response to loud noises, unfamiliar environments, separation anxiety, or other triggers that cause emotional distress (Grzyb, K., 2022). If your dog's panting is accompanied by other signs of anxiety, such as trembling, pacing, or drooling, it's important to address the underlying cause and provide them with a calm and secure environment.


Respiratory Issues 

Some dogs may pant excessively due to respiratory problems. Conditions such as laryngeal paralysis, tracheal collapse, or Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) can make it difficult for dogs to breathe properly, leading to increased panting (MacMillan, R., 2021). If you notice persistent or labored panting in your dog, it's essential to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.


Pain and Discomfort

Dogs may pant excessively when they are in pain or discomfort. This can be caused by injuries, arthritis, dental issues, or other underlying health conditions (Montgomery J. & Fontana, L., 2024). If your dog's panting is accompanied by signs of distress, such as limping, whining, or changes in appetite or behavior, it's crucial to seek veterinary attention to identify and address the source of their discomfort.


Medications and Medical Conditions

Certain medications or medical conditions can cause dogs to pant excessively. For example, panting is a side effect of steroids (Catalano, S., 2020). Additionally, medical conditions such as Cushing's disease or heart problems can contribute to excessive panting. If you suspect that medication or a medical condition is causing your dog's panting, consult with your veterinarian for guidance.

By understanding the common reasons for excessive panting in dogs, you can better assess your dog's well-being and take appropriate action when needed.


Dog Shaking and Panting Together

How to Interpret Dog Shaking and Panting Together

Dog shaking and panting often occur together and can provide valuable insights into your dog's emotional state. 

When your dog is shaking and panting simultaneously, it's essential to consider the context and accompanying body language cues. If your dog is shaking and panting after physical exertion or during playtime, it's likely a natural response to release excess energy and cool down.

However, if your dog's shaking and panting are accompanied by signs of distress, such as a tense body posture, wide eyes, or other signs of anxiety, it may indicate fear or discomfort.

Distinguishing between normal and excessive shaking and panting is crucial. If your dog's shaking or panting seems excessive or out of the ordinary, it's important to monitor their behavior and consult with a veterinarian if you have concerns.

Additionally, consider the overall context and your dog's usual behavior. If your dog is shaking and panting in situations where they have previously shown signs of fear or discomfort, it's important to address the underlying cause and provide them with the support they need.

By interpreting your dog's shaking and panting together and considering the broader context, you can better understand their emotions and needs, enabling you to respond appropriately and ensure their well-being.


dog sleeping under blanket on soft bed

Tips for Addressing Shaking and Panting in Dogs

If your dog's shaking or panting is causing concern, there are several steps you can take to address their needs and enhance their well-being:


Create a Safe and Calm Environment 

Provide your dog with a safe and calm environment where they can feel secure and relaxed. Avoid exposing them to triggers that cause fear or anxiety and ensure they have a quiet place to retreat to when needed.


Manage Temperature and Hydration 

Ensure that your dog has access to shade, fresh water, and a cool environment, especially during hot weather or after physical exertion. This can help prevent overheating and excessive panting.


Address Underlying Health Issues

If your dog's shaking or panting is accompanied by signs of distress or discomfort, it's important to seek veterinary attention. A thorough examination and appropriate diagnostic tests can help identify any underlying health issues and guide the appropriate treatment.


Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation 

Engage your dog in regular mental and physical activities to help them release excess energy, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being. This can include daily walks, interactive toys, training sessions, or puzzle games.


Consider Behavioral Training

If your dog's shaking or panting is related to anxiety or fear, consider seeking professional help from a certified dog trainer or animal behaviorist. They can provide guidance and techniques to help your dog overcome their fears and build confidence.

Remember, each dog is unique, and their needs may vary. By addressing your dog's shaking and panting with patience, understanding, and appropriate care, you can help them lead a happy and healthy life.


Veterinarian Checking a German Shepherd

Seeking Professional Help for Dog Behavior Issues

If your dog's shaking or panting is persistent, excessive, or accompanied by other concerning behaviors, it's crucial to seek professional help (Farricelli, A., 2023). A certified dog trainer or animal behaviorist can assess your dog's behavior, identify any underlying issues, and provide guidance and training techniques to address them.

Additionally, consulting with a veterinarian is essential to rule out any medical conditions that may be contributing to your dog's shaking or panting. A thorough examination and appropriate diagnostic tests can help identify and address any health issues.

By seeking professional help, you can ensure that your dog receives the proper support and care to address their behavior issues and improve their overall well-being.


Senior Dog Panting

Role of CBD Oil in Dog Shaking and Panting

When it comes to dog shaking and panting, Cannabidiol (CBD) oil may offer some benefits, although it's important to note that it's not a cure-all and should be used as part of a comprehensive approach to addressing your dog's health issues. Here's how CBD oil may play a role:


Anxiety and Stress Reduction

Dogs can experience anxiety and stress for various reasons, such as separation anxiety, loud noises, or changes in their environment. Shaking and panting are common symptoms of anxiety in dogs.

CBD oil has been suggested to have anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate mood and stress responses (
Corsetti, et al, 2021). By promoting relaxation, CBD oil may help alleviate these symptoms in dogs. Read “Addressing Canine Anxiety: The Finest CBD Solutions for Your Dog


Pain Management

Shaking and panting can also be signs of pain or discomfort in dogs. CBD oil has shown promise as a natural pain reliever due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It may help alleviate pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, injuries, or post-surgery recovery (Brioschi, et al, 2020). By reducing pain levels, CBD oil could potentially reduce shaking and panting in dogs. Read “CBD Oil For Dogs With Joint Pains


Seizure Management

In some cases, shaking and panting in dogs could be related to seizures or epilepsy. CBD oil has garnered attention for its anticonvulsant properties, which may help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in epileptic dogs (McGrath, et al, 2019).

While more research is needed in this area, some pet owners have reported positive outcomes when using CBD oil as an adjunctive treatment for epilepsy in their dogs. Read “
Seizure Support: Exploring the Most Effective CBD Oil for Canine Epilepsy


Nausea and Digestive Issues

Dogs may shake and pant due to nausea or digestive issues. CBD oil has been studied for its antiemetic (anti-nausea) and gastrointestinal-calming effects (Parker, Rock, and Limebeer, 2011). It may help alleviate nausea, vomiting, and digestive discomfort in dogs, potentially reducing shaking and panting associated with these issues. Read more about "CBD for your Dog's Upset Stomach".


Overall Wellness Support

Even if your dog doesn't have a specific health condition, CBD oil may still benefit their overall well-being. It has antioxidant properties and can support the immune system, which may help maintain your dog's health and vitality. By promoting balance within the body, CBD oil could contribute to reducing shaking and panting episodes in dogs. Here are 4 Ways CBD Can Help Improve Your Dog's Health Within Days!

It's crucial to consult with your veterinarian before using CBD oil for your dog.  


a dog and owner bonding

Building a Strong Bond Through Understanding Canine Communication

Decoding canine communication is an ongoing process that requires observation, patience, and a deep understanding of your dog's unique language. Shaking and panting are two non-verbal ways dogs communicate with us and other dogs, providing valuable insights into their emotions and needs.

By understanding the significance of dog shaking and panting, recognizing the different types of shaking, interpreting these behaviors together, and addressing any underlying issues, you can enhance your bond with your furry companion and ensure their well-being.

Remember to create a safe and calm environment, manage temperature and hydration, address any underlying health issues, provide mental and physical stimulation, and seek professional help when needed. By doing so, you can navigate the mysterious world of canine communication and build a strong and fulfilling relationship with your beloved dog.