There are many things that can cause a dog to tremble or shiver; But elderly dog tremors can be especially disturbing to you as a dog owner because often the cause isn’t obvious. Sure, most dogs shake and tremble when they’re cold or frightened, such as during a thunderstorm. But when your aging canine baby starts to shiver and shake for no apparent reason, it’s doubly distressing because although you want to give comfort, you just don’t know why it’s happening.
When elderly dog tremors started with my beloved “Toni” (she lived to the ripe old age of 18), I knew she was suffering in some way. The fact that I didn’t know what to do about it made me anxious and she picked up on that, which made the situation even worse. Our dogs are very in tune with our emotional states.
So I consulted Toni’s vet, Dr. Roger, and did some research on my own. Here’s what I came up with:
It Could Be The Cold
Your geriatric baby could be shivering because she is cold. Aging bodies (both human and canine) become more sensitive to colder temperatures due to a decrease in metabolic rate. You’ve probably also noticed that your precious pooch doesn’t get nearly as much exercise as she used to and so produces less body heat.
Of course if temperature is the issue, you can simply adjust the thermostat indoors or invest in some doggie apparel for indoors or outdoors. There is an amazing array of coats, sweaters, jerseys, even jammies available for cold natured senior dogs. This is a simple, easy and fun solution if your faithful friend is just chilly; And of course make sure her bed is soft and warm and situated in a warm area.
Old Dog Anxiety – It’s a Real Thing
Even if your old canine buddy has always been a fun-loving, fearless and confidently happy pooch, it’s not unusual for him to begin to exhibit anxious behavior when he reaches his senior years. Unfortunately, this is due to his aging brain and there’s not much you can do about that, but you can help him through the stressful times when you’re around.
Senior dogs like predictability in their environment and daily routines. Your precious pet is set in his ways and anything different or new can seem threatening to him. Keep his exercise and feeding schedules the same, and avoid moving any of “his things,” like his bed, food and water bowl, and toys. Even moving the furniture around can be confusing and stressful for him.
A predictable routine gives your dog stability, something he definitely needs in his later years. Stability in itself is a great antidote to anxiety.
Perhaps most important of all, never underestimate the calming powers of your own soothing voice and your own gentle touch. You may get a bit stressed out yourself when you see elderly dog tremors in your dog, but believe me, your old boy will pick up on those feelings and become even more anxious. A tender cuddle, gentle petting and speaking to him in a calm voice can go a long way in alleviating his anxiety.
When Toni would have episodes of trembling, I’d sit her on my lap, give her a gentle brushing with her favorite grooming brush and sing to her.
Separation Anxiety: Relieving your dog’s distress when you’re not around.
Separation anxiety is a biggie for your fabulous old friend because he depends on you for everything. You are his everything, and although he may not understand why you have to leave him sometimes, you still have to go to work or go shopping and have a social life.
There are ways to manage his separation anxiety while you are away and make his ‘home alone’ time less stressful. What you want to do is make the house feel less empty for him. You can leave the television or the radio on or leave a favorite CD playing. If it’s going to get dark before you come home, leave a light or two on, especially where he’ll most likely be hanging out.
Of course make sure he has easy access to his toys, food and water bowl. You can also leave a “security blanket”; not necessarily a blanket, but a piece of old clothing or shoe with your scent on it can give him much comfort while you’re gone.
There are also great products available for treating anxiety in your canine companion such as dog calming vests, canine relaxation CDs, and very effective natural calming dog treats. One of the highest rated is Zesty Paws Stress and Anxiety Calming Bites.
There is a great Clickbank offer (discounted right now!) of nine hours of downloadable music specifically designed to soothe, calm and relax the restless, anxious pet. This is a wonderful alternative to pet owners who are reluctant to give tranquilizers, and it also comes with a ‘Dog Anxiety Solved Forever!’ ebook. You can check out this Relaxing Dog Music offer here.
A recent veterinary study found that a canine diet supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids alleviated anxious behavior in most of the dogs tested by up to 50%! That’s impressive!
Pain Can Cause Your Dog To Tremble
Your dog’s trembling and shaking could be her reaction to pain. Just like humans, as dogs age, they tend to become arthritic. The term Arthritis means inflammation of one or more joints. It is one of the most common ailments seen in elderly dogs, and although any dog can suffer from arthritis, it occurs more often in the larger breeds.
Arthritis causes pain and stiffness in your dog’s joints and sometimes even swelling. You may notice her limping or favoring one leg, or walking with a stiff gait. Sometimes the limping or stiffness will be more noticeable when she first rises, then will improve as she moves around. Your dog may be reluctant to go up or down stairs, or jump on the bed or into the car. These are all signs of arthritis. A trip to the vet is the next step.
There are a number of different treatments for arthritis in dogs and your veterinarian will be able to recommend the right one specific to your dog’s age, breed, lifestyle and general health. Most are very affordable and effective.
Elderly Dog Tremors Could Mean Serious Illness
Unfortunately, frequent trembling in your senior dog could be a symptom of a more serious condition. If you’ve tried to alleviate his tremors by using some above methods to no avail and ruled out those causes, your dog could be facing a more critical disease.
For instance, frequent tremors is a symptom of Addison’s disease in dogs and certain cancers. If this is the case, a comprehensive health screening by your veterinarian is in order.
Clearing Up The Mystery Eases Your Stress Too
It’s fairly obvious to anyone who owns a senior dog that trembles and shakes, that the dog is in distress when it’s happening. Knowing why it happens and the different things you can do to help your dog alleviates your worry too. This can only improve the whole situation because your dog takes his cues from you and depends on you for stability and tranquility.
Of course the various causes for your older dog’s “shiver and shake” are not always so cut and dried and often the reason your precious pet is trembling is a combination of factors. For instance, he may be cold, but cold temperatures also worsen his arthritis. He may be in pain, and that causes him to be more anxious.
You are the one who knows your dog best and with the help of your veterinarian, you can ease the elderly dog tremors in your elderly baby.
Thanks for visiting My Geriatric Dog and reading about the causes of elderly dog tremors. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them for me in the comment section below.