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Dog Shaking After Surgery: What Does It Mean?

Your dog is shaking after surgery due to the side effects of anesthesia. The shaking should go away after a day or two. If it doesn’t, there can be an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed.

You recently had surgery for your dog. Your dog seems comfortable, but you notice slight changes in its behavior. 

Shaking is one of the most common post-surgery conditions in dogs. 

If your dog is shaking after surgery, it is not due to cold or fear but due to the side effects of anesthesia.

This article discusses why dogs shake after surgery and provide details to stop this behavior.

Why is My Dog Shaking After Surgery?

Your dog can be shaking due to anesthesia. The shaking is usually not caused by cold or discomfort but by the side effects of anesthesia.

There are several reasons why dogs shake. Most of them are harmless, while some require immediate medical attention. If your dog is shaking after surgery, it is likely the result of the anesthesia wearing off.

Having surgery is not a pleasant experience for anyone. The experience of going into the clinic and getting anesthesia is something that one tends to avoid. Under extreme circumstances, surgeries are required to ensure your dog’s survival and well-being.

Anesthesia is a vital part of any major surgery. It allows the patient to receive safe surgical treatment while making it painless.

Your dog can also be shivering due to low body temperature or stress after receiving surgical treatment. These circumstances are less likely to be the root cause of shaking.

Notice how long the shaking lasts. In the case of anesthesia, your dog should return to its normal self within a day or two. 

Anesthesia also results in other signs and symptoms you should look out for:

  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting

Longer periods of shivering can indicate a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention.

Why is My Dog Shaking After Surgery

What Makes Dogs Shake After Surgery?

Anesthesia can make dogs shake after surgery. It is one of the most common side effects of anesthesia post-surgery. Anxiety, stress, low body temperature, fear, and pain can also cause shaking after surgery.

Postanesthetic shaking is one of the most common conditions after surgery. Dogs can start shaking when the effects of anesthesia start to wear off. Anesthesia inhibits the body’s thermoregulation capabilities.[1]

It takes a while for the anesthesia to exit the body completely. Your dog may behave unusually for a day or two and should get back to its normal self afterward.

There are various other reasons why your dog is shaking. Some have nothing to do with the surgery itself.

1. Anxiety

Separation Anxiety

Dogs can develop anxiety due to several environmental factors. If your dog feels uncomfortable when visiting the doctor’s office, it is likely to be anxious when the time arrives for its checkup. Some dogs can develop post-surgical anxiety, which results in involuntary shaking.

You can try reducing your dog’s levels of anxiety by calming it down and making it feel safe. Doing their favorite activity can also help curb their anxiety.

2. Stress

Returning from surgery can be an uncomfortable experience for humans and dogs alike. Some dogs become stressed post-surgery which can cause them to shake.

Related: Dog Shaking After Vaccine Shots

3. Low body temperature

Low Body Temperature on dogs

It is possible that your dog is feeling cold after having surgery. Low body temperature can cause shivering in dogs which can sometimes be mistaken for fear.

If your dog is shivering due to the cold, cover them with a blanket and try to warm them up.

4. Fear

One of the most common reasons for shaking in dogs is fear. When a dog is afraid of something, it shakes uncontrollably and randomly. It is possible that your dog is scared of a particular thing or person, which is causing it to exhibit such behavior.

Your dog can also be frightened due to the surgery. Seeing a lot of different people at once can make dogs scared.

Identify the stressor that is scaring your dog and try to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

5. Pain

dog in fear

Your dog can be shaking due to discomfort or pain. Ear infections can make dogs shake their heads. Other than that, the Generalized Tremor Syndrome[2] can also cause pain for dogs which makes them shake their bodies.

If the shaking continues throughout the course of a week, you should consult a veterinarian. Consistent shaking can be the result of something severe that requires immediate medical attention.

Related: Dog Whining After Surgery

Is It Normal for Dogs to Shake After Surgery?

Yes, it is normal for dogs to shake after having surgery. Shaking is a sign of the body getting rid of the anesthesia. If your dog is shivering post-surgery, it is likely reacting to the anesthesia present in its body.

Imagine having a surgery that requires you to be under general anesthesia. It is an uncomfortable situation to be in. The same goes for dogs. 

Not only that, but some dogs also feel stress and anxiety when visiting a veterinarian for their checkups.

Post-surgery, your dog can be shaking due to heightened levels of stress or fear. It is possible that your dog is feeling discomfort or is in pain which is causing them to shiver.

The most likely reason why dogs shake is the side effects of general anesthesia.

Is It Normal for Dogs to Shake After Surgery

How to Stop Dogs from Shaking After Surgery

To stop dogs from shaking after surgery, feed them small amounts of food frequently. Hugging and gently patting your pooch can also help make them calm. Limit your dog’s movements after surgery to not cause any mishaps.

There can be several reasons why your dog is shaking after surgery. The most common one is the effect of anesthesia. Fear, low body temperature, and anxiety are some other factors contributing to the shaking behavior in dogs after surgery.

While these go again, you need to know how to stop your dog from shaking. This can be tricky and depends on the dog.

You should make your dog feel comfortable after surgery. If your dog is shaking due to anxiety or fear, try calming them down to relieve their shaking.

How to Comfort Your Dog After Surgery

Provide your dog with the prescribed medication to provide them relief post-surgery. Antibiotics and pain relievers are the most common type of medication given after surgeries. They help fight infections and provide comfort to the dogs.

Avoid making your dog exercise or stretch. Your dog can get a tear or bleed from the surgical area, which can worsen the situation. 

Some steps you can take to provide relief to your dog are:

  • Carry them to and from steps so as not to exert pressure on the bodies
  • Put them on a leash, so they don’t run
  • Avoid playtimes and walks
  • Give them a room with a view
  • Communicate with them
  • Some stressed dogs also require a sedative to calm down
How to Comfort Your Dog After Surgery

How to Calm Your Dog After Surgery

Anesthesia can have unwanted several side effects:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

These are some of the most common side effects of anesthesia. If your dog is shaking uncontrollably, you can take some steps to make them calm. 

Here’s how to calm down your dog:

  • Gently pat or cuddle with them
  • Massage their bodies as a surgical procedure can be exhausting
  • Put on some music to help divert their attention away from the affected site
  • Feed them small chunks of food frequently to cater to their lost appetite
  • Try not to give them harmful treats which affect their healing and health

Anesthesia can also cause dysphoria, which can result in whining. Communicate with your dog and help them feel comfortable by touching them affectionately. 

In case the shaking does not stop, you should take your dog to a veterinarian to get it checked for any health issues.


Whether general or local, anesthesia is an integral part of any surgery. Without proper anesthesia, the surgical process can be extremely painful and traumatizing. Anesthesia can have several side effects on dogs which are evident a few hours after the surgery.

Shaking is one of those side effects. You should reassure your dog and let them deal with the anesthesia. You can also hug them and give them small pieces of food to help their body expel the anesthesia faster.


Why is My Dog Shivering After Surgery?

Shivering can be a sign of low body temperature. If your dog is feeling cold, shaking can be a natural reflex of the body. Anesthesia can also cause some side effects post-surgery which include shivering and trembling.

Why is My Dog Shaking After Anesthesia?

Anesthesia inhibits the body’s thermoregulatory system and numbs the brain signals to make surgeries painless and safe. One of the side effects of anesthesia is random involuntary shaking in dogs. This shaking usually goes away in a day or two.

Why is My Dog Panting After Spay Surgery?

Spaying is a difficult process for dogs and can cause panting after surgery. Some dogs become traumatized after the surgery. The stress and anxiety developed from the experience increase the adrenaline levels of dogs which causes them to breathe heavily. You should try to calm them down and reassure them.

How Long Does Anesthesia Remain in Dogs’ System?

The side effects of anesthesia usually wear off within 24-48 hours. A dog’s breed also plays a huge role in the duration of shaking due to anesthesia. Large dog breeds tend to overcome the side effects of anesthesia faster than small dog breeds. If the shaking doesn’t go away, you should consult a veterinarian to get proper treatment for your dog. 

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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