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Dog’s Leg Shaking: Causes and Treatments (Back & Front Legs)

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Environmental, psychological, or medical factors can make your dog’s leg shake. Injuries, muscle cramps, and neurological issues are the most common reasons for leg shaking in dogs.

Dogs shake their bodies occasionally. Most of the time, it is to shake off excess water. 

While shaking the head and body is potentially harmless, leg shaking indicates an underlying issue that requires your attention.

If your dog is shaking its leg uncontrollably, take it to a veterinarian. 

Occasional leg shaking is not something to worry about, but if the trembling continues for a long time, there is an issue.

This article discusses the causes of leg shaking in dogs and the treatments to stop it.

Dog’s Leg Shaking

Leg shaking due to excitement is common among dogs. Severe leg shaking is the result of something more serious. Pain and injuries are the most common causes of leg shaking in younger dogs. Older dogs tend to develop several medical issues, such as Degenerative Myelopathy, which weakens their legs.

It is not uncommon for dog owners to find their dogs shaking their legs. Occasional leg shaking is not a cause for concern, but if the shaking lasts for more than a few hours it can be due to an underlying issue. 

Some of the less harmful reasons for leg shaking include:

  • Excitement
  • Drying off excess water
  • Low body temperature
  • Fear
dog in fear

Other reasons causing leg shaking in dogs are more cause for concern. Degenerative Myelopathy[1] is one such condition that affects older dogs. This leads to the weakening of the hind legs. 

Proper veterinary care is required to ensure permanent damage does not occur.

Dog’s Back Legs Weak and Shaking

Back leg shaking is often caused by weakness in the hind leg muscles. Senile dogs are more prone to developing back-leg weakness. Aging leads to deterioration of muscle strength and joint problems resulting in weakness in the hind legs. 

Young dogs can also develop weakness in their back legs due to several reasons. Arthritis is one of the most common causes of shaking in dog legs. Other medical conditions such as Hip Dysplasia and Slipped Discs can also cause shaking in your dog’s legs. 

Dog’s Front Legs Shaking

A dog’s front legs do not generally shake without a stressor or medical condition. If your dog is experiencing front leg shaking, it is often due to weakness. 

There are several causes of front leg shaking in dogs. Most of them require urgent medical attention and treatment:

  • Illnesses
  • Injuries
  • Nerve diseases
  • Leg cramps
  • Infections

Related: Why Are My Puppy’s Front Legs Shaking?

Symptoms for Weak Hind Legs in Dogs

Hind leg weakness makes dogs slow and lazy. It is important to observe your dog’s behavior and look for signs indicating issues in its hind legs. 

There are various symptoms of weakness in your dog’s hind legs:

  • Difficulty standing up
  • Walking sideways
  • Laziness
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of balance
  • Wobbly walking
  • Stiffness in joints

7 Reasons for Leg Shaking in Dogs

Pain and injuries are one of the most common reasons for leg shaking in dogs. Medical issues such as Shaker Syndrome or Osteoarthritis can also lead to the front and back legs shaking. Identify the key issue to provide prompt veterinary care to your dog.

Dogs shake for a variety of reasons. Some of them are harmless, while others require attention and care. 

It is important to observe your dog’s behavior and look for additional symptoms and signs to identify the exact problem.

Some of the more serious reasons why dogs shake are listed below.

1. Injuries and Pain Can Cause Shaking

puppy Injury

Your dog can be shaking its leg if it is suffering from an injury. Dogs love playing and running around the yard. Many a time, these canines get involved in accidents that lead to injuries.

Dogs are excellent at hiding their pain. Look for signs of a physical injury on your dog’s leg. Constantly shaking legs helps dogs relieve some of the pain. 

If your dog has a wound on its leg, try providing treatment at home. If the injury is big or if there is blood, go straight to a veterinarian to get prompt medical care.

2. Neurological Disorders Behind the Shaking

dog on vet

Injuries are painful and frustrating. It is possible for dogs to sustain injuries to their nervous systems while playing. Neurological disorders are generally genetic but your dog can develop these disorders due to an injury to the brain or spinal cord. These disorders can cause trembling and shaking, which is painful.

Some of these disorders include autoimmune diseases. These are difficult to treat and can lead to several issues:

  • Strokes.
  • Brain and spinal cord issues.
  • Infections.
  • Slipped discs.

One such disorder is Cerebellar Hypoplasia[2] which restricts the proper development of the cerebellum in young dogs. This leads to aggressive tremors and shaking.

3. Shaker Syndrome

Shaker Syndrome

One of the most frustrating conditions that cause shaking in dogs is Idiopathic Cerebellitis, also known as Shaker Syndrome[3]. The most prominent symptom of this condition is uncontrollable shaking. 

Some dog breeds, such as West Highland White Terriers, are more prone to this condition than others.

This condition can be treated with medical care. If your dog is displaying uncontrollable tremors without any physical stressor, take it straight to a veterinarian.

4. Hypoglycemia and Leg Shaking

Hypoglycemia and Leg Shaking

Low blood glucose levels can be detrimental to your dog’s health. This can lead to tremors in the legs as well as lethargy. Too much insulin can also lead to leg shaking in diabetic dogs.

If your dog is diabetic and is eating less, do not give it insulin without consulting with a veterinarian. Take your dog straight to the clinic if you believe it is suffering from Hypoglycemia.[4]

5. Shaking Due to Osteoarthritis

An Old Dog Heart Disease

Older dogs are prone to weaknesses and bone issues. When a dog’s cartilage deteriorates with time, it leads to inflammation of joints resulting in Osteoarthritis in the affected area. Large breeds are more likely to develop this condition than small breeds. 

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis:

  • Slowness when standing up.
  • Reluctance to jump, run, or move up or down the stairs.
  • Lameness in the leg(s).
  • Licking joints.
  • Swelling in the affected area.
  • Muscle atrophy.

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog, consult a vet immediately to provide proper treatment to your dog.

6. Muscle Cramps and Leg Trembling

Muscle Cramps and Leg Trembling

Over-exertion and continuous running can cause muscle spasms or muscle cramps, causing shaking. Cramps occur when nerves become hyperactive due to extensive exercise or running. This condition isn’t long-lasting, as the cramps usually go away after a few minutes.

If you notice your dog limping or shaking after an intensive session of exercise, it is probably due to muscle cramps. Simple massages and cold baths can help get rid of these involuntary spasms

7. Trembling From Stress or Anxiety

Anxiety Can Cause Shivering

Dogs communicate with their owners via their body language. A wagging tail, droopy ears, and heavy breathing can indicate stress or anxiety. These are both common among dogs.

There are numerous signs of stress in dogs:

Many things can cause anxiety and stress in dogs. It is important to identify the main stressor which is causing leg shaking in your dog. Some dogs are afraid of loud noises such as firetruck alarms, thunderstorms, or drilling. Car rides and trips to the veterinarian can also cause anxiety in some dogs.

A veterinarian can prescribe anxiety medication to calm your dog down and help it stop shaking its leg.

Is It Normal for Dog’s Leg to Shake?

No, it is not normal for dogs to shake their legs uncontrollably. Leg shaking due to cold, pain, and stress is common but must be treated quickly. Different medical conditions can cause leg shaking in dogs, such as Osteoarthritis and Shaker Syndrome.

Dogs shake their legs to remove excess water after a swim or a bath. Leg shaking due to pain is common among dogs. Dogs exhibit this behavior to let their owners know about their condition.

Dog owners must identify the key issue behind their dog’s uncontrollable leg shaking and provide proper veterinary care as soon as possible to avoid any complications.

Treatments for Dog’s Leg Shaking

Leg shaking can be stopped by treating injuries or other underlying issues. Medication can be administered by a vet if necessary. Take your dog to a vet if the leg shaking becomes violent or if you are unable to identify the issue.

Properly identifying the issue is key to stopping involuntary leg shaking in your dog. This includes medication, mental stimulation, hydration, and warmth, depending on the issue.

There are some steps you can take to stop leg shaking in your dog:

  • Look for signs of injuries and treat them with home remedies, if applicable.
  • Get rid of any stressors that are developing anxiety and stress in your dog.
  • Cover your dog with a blanket if it is shaking due to low body temperature.
  • Gently massage your dog’s legs to stop any muscle cramps after a hard workout.
  • Get your dog trained for separation, so it does not develop separation anxiety and becomes destructive.

Consult a veterinarian if you don’t know the possible issue with your dog. A proper checkup will reveal the medical issue behind the excessive leg shaking.

Treatments for Dog’s Leg Shaking

Treatments for Weak Back Legs

Back leg weakness is not common among young dogs. Senior dogs are less likely to recover from leg weakness than young pups. The treatment also depends on the primary cause of weakness. 

There are certain steps you can take to treat back leg weakness in your dog.

  • Ensure your dog gets enough exercise.
  • Feed your dog a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Give proper vaccination to your dog on time.
  • Regular veterinary checkups help diagnose any medical issues before they become serious.

Conclusion

Dogs shake their legs for several reasons. Some of them do not pose any danger, while others require veterinary care and treatment. Pain is one of the most common causes of shaking in dogs. If your dog is senile, leg shaking is a natural behavior due to the deterioration of bones and cartilage.

Identify the key issue and take the necessary steps to ensure that your dog remains healthy and stops shaking its leg.

FAQs

Why are My Dog’s Hind Legs Shaking?

Hind leg shaking can be caused by temporary muscle spasms, nerve disorders, neurological disorders, infections, injuries, and more. If your dog is old, its hind legs can be shaking due to Degenerative Myelopathy, which is a condition that affects the hind legs of senile dogs.

What Should I Do If My Dog’s Leg is Shaking?

Look for signs of injuries if your dog is shaking due to pain. If there are no visible injuries, contact a veterinarian to identify the key stressor for uncontrollable leg shaking. 

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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