Misfit Animals is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn More.

My Dog is Shaking and Limping: 5 Reasons Why & What It Means

Shaking and limping can be the result of bone fractures, muscle strains, or joint problems. Pain is the most common cause of shaking in dogs. 

Dogs love playing around and interacting with their owners. They use their body language to communicate. A dog’s body can reveal a lot about its emotional and physical well-being.

Sometimes, dogs exhibit behaviors that are tricky to comprehend. Shaking and limping are some of these behaviors. 

There are several reasons why limping and shaking occur in dogs. Some pose no threat, while others require prompt veterinary care.

Learn about the causes of shaking and limping in dogs and how to solve this issue.

My Dog is Shaking and Limping

Dogs can experience shaking and limping for several reasons. Pain, low body temperature, stress, anxiety, and fear are the major causes of shaking in dogs. Limping is usually the sign of pain, fracture, or loss of function.

Some dogs exhibit strange and unusual behaviors that can indicate various problems. Dog owners must identify their pet’s discomforts and take the necessary steps to treat them. 

If your dog is limping and shaking simultaneously, chances are that it is experiencing pain in one or more of its limbs.

Limping can manifest in several ways. It can lift its leg up and walk on the other three or drag the affected limb behind. Limping in dogs is a common sight but is not normal or regular behavior.

In some cases, shaking and limping are insignificant, and your dog can return to its normal state after a short while. Mild shaking and mild limping do not indicate something severe. 

Seek veterinary care if the shaking and limping persist for a long time.

dog Shaking and Limping

5 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Shaking and Limping

There are several reasons why dogs shake and limp. The most common cause is pain. Shaking and limping can be the result of a bone fracture, muscle strain, ligament rupture, joint dislocation, or an insect bite.

Seeing your dog limp is not a pretty sight. You can feel the frustration and the pain of your dog when you see it limping its way across the room. 

Limping can be the result of a fracture or muscle tear which makes it difficult for your dog to walk properly, among other causes.

Here are the five most common reasons why dogs shake and limp.

1. Bone Fractures

dog Bone Fracture

Bone fractures are among the most common causes of limping in dogs[1]. A bone fracture causes immense pain at the affected site. Moving the impacted site sends jolts of pain throughout the body.

Fractures are mainly of two types – open and closed. 

Open fractures are easy to identify, as you can clearly see the affected site and get your dog proper treatment as soon as possible. In the case of a closed fracture, things get more challenging.

A closed fracture is not visible to the naked eye. Examine your dog thoroughly to look for signs of injury. If you feel a bone is out of place or the shape of the limb is strange, there is a possible fracture.

2. Muscle Strains

Bone fractures can be painful, but so are muscle strains. A muscle strain occurs when the tendons attached to the bones stretch more than their limit. This is more common in active and energetic dogs. A slip, jump, or fall can cause this.[2]

If your dog is keeping its leg in the air or becomes lame, it can be suffering from a muscle sprain. Muscle sprains typically go away after a few days. Take your dog to a veterinarian to get them checked if the issue persists.

3. Ligament Ruptures or Strains

Dog Ligament Ruptures or Strains

Ligaments are fibrous tissues that connect bones together. Dogs can damage or rupture their ligaments which can cause severe pain and discomfort for them. The cruciate ligaments located in the knee joint are the most vulnerable to rupture or strains.[3]

The major cause of ligament tears is obesity. Obese or overweight dogs are prone to damaging their joints and ligaments. Wrong landing or excessive running can also cause damage to ligaments.

Some dog breeds are more susceptible to developing ligament issues:

  • Rottweilers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Staffordshire Terriers
  • Newfoundlands

Consult a veterinarian to identify if and where a ligament tear is located.

4. Joint Dislocations

Joint Dislocations

Joint dislocations can cause pain in your dog which makes it shake. Falling, bumping into other dogs, or slipping can cause joint dislocations. The shoulder joint, or the Glenohumeral joint, is the most at risk of dislocation. This is a ball and socket joint that can fall out of place more easily than other joints.

Hip joints, kneecaps, and tail joints are the other major affected joints in your dog’s body. Treating joint dislocations is important as they can be painful. Take your dog to a vet to resolve the issue and place the joint back in its place.

5. Insect Stings and Bites

The sting of a bee or wasp can be extremely painful. Humans and dogs both feel the striking pain after being stung. If your dog is lifting its leg in the air and shaking, it is possible that an insect bite is affecting its ability to walk normally.

Look for signs of an insect bite and apply the required ointment to relieve some of the pain your dog is experiencing.

Is Shaking and Limping Normal for Dogs?

No, shaking and limping are not normal behaviors for dogs. Limping is a common sight among dogs, but it is not normal. If your dog is shaking along with limping, it can be suffering from an immense pain that must be addressed.

Some dogs occasionally shake without reason. Shaking is also caused by other external and internal factors:

  • Low body temperature.
  • Anxiety.
  • Stress.
  • Fear.
  • Excitement.

Limping is never normal, even in mild forms. Shaking and limping often go together, as limping often causes pain, and pain can cause shaking.

Related: Why is my dog shaking?

Is Shaking and Limping Normal for Dogs

How to Stop Dogs from Shaking and Limping

To stop your dog from shaking and limping, look for signs of injury or physical damage. If you are unable to find any, visit a veterinarian for a checkup.

It is not a pretty sight for a dog owner to see their pet limp around the house. Even a slight limp can be cause for concern. 

Here’s what to do if your dog is shaking and limping continuously:

  • Physically examine your dog for signs of a bone fracture.
  • If a bone is sticking out, or your feel that your pooch’s limb is shaped oddly, there can be a fracture.
  • Stop touching your dog once you have figured out the cause behind it.
  • Keep your dog’s limb straight and try not to move it much.
  • If you find an insect wound, gently cover it with an ointment to help provide some relief to your dog.
  • If you detect a fracture or a tendon and ligament break, visit a veterinarian as soon as possible to get the required treatment for your pooch.

Conclusion

Dogs shake due for several reasons. Shaking coupled with limping often indicates that your dog is experiencing high-intensity pain, which then causes it to tremble. Look for signs of bodily damage on the affected limb or limbs.

In the case of a broken bone or damaged tendons and ligaments, a visit to the doctor is vital to get your dog proper treatment. Insect bites can be treated at home and are generally nothing to worry about.

Take your dog to a veterinarian if the shaking and limping persists without any reason.

FAQs

Why is My Dog Limping and Shaking?

Your dog can be limping due to pain from an injury. Dogs communicate with their owners via their body language. Limping indicates a problem with your dog’s limb. Check for signs of damage or tears. If the cause remains invisible to you, consult a veterinarian for proper guidance.

Why is My Dog Not Eating or Drinking and Shaking?

Loss of appetite and shaking can be the result of sickness. Canine distemper, liver and kidney diseases, and generalized tremor syndrome are some of the most common diseases that cause shaking and loss of appetite in dogs.

Why is My Dog Having Constipation Symptoms and Shaking?

Shaking is your dog’s way of dealing with pain. If your dog is shaking and showing signs of constipation, there is a possibility that it is suffering from constipation. You should make your dog drink lots of water and add fibers to its diet to make its digestive system healthy and allow the poop to pass through easily.

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.