Why Is My Dog Panting And Shaking?

What could be behind your dog's recent panting and shaking? Does it indicate a health problem? This article will let you in on some answers.

dog panting and shaking

Has your generally healthy dog been panting and shaking recently?

Naturally, this worries you, as you want nothing but the best for your dog. Furthermore, it’s worse when you don’t know what’s causing something, right?

So, what could be behind this behavior?

Just like people, dogs too can suddenly change behavior due to many reasons. This is especially concerning for the dog owner when the behavior is new and there doesn’t seem to be any apparent reason. Not knowing why something occurred or what to do next isn’t an ideal situation, we know!

As always, we’re here to help you. Read further and find out more about panting and shaking in combination and what could be behind it.

What Can Panting And Shaking Indicate?

Separately, the reason behind panting and shaking is usually pretty clear. Panting, or fast breathing, is normal and helps the dog cool off and get back to a normal temperature. Shaking can also be a way of regulating the temperature. But what does it mean when they’re combined?

Unfortunately, panting and shaking in combination can indicate various health conditions, so we’re going to take a look at some of the most common reasons behind this.

Heat Stroke

Heat stokes occur when the dog’s body has overheated more than normally, for example when part-taking in high energy exercise on a hot day without cooling down properly. This condition is typically associated with temperature of 106°F (41°C) or higher and it can lead to multiple organ dysfunction.

Panting and shaking are the most common symptoms of a heat stroke. This is also the most common reason behind panting and shaking. Other symptoms are excessive salivation, seizures or sudden collapse.

This is a very serious condition and should be treated as such, as it can quickly escalate to emergency status. Some breeds tend to get hot easier than others, which makes them more prone to heat stroke.

Read more on how to treat heat stroke and how to prevent them in this article and check out the video below.

Fever And Infection

Sometimes, a dog can have a high fever after an infection. As a result, this hyperthermia can cause panting and shaking. This is the body’s way of lowering its temperature and a sign for you to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. If the infection has gotten to the stage where it’s causing shaking and panting, it shouldn’t be ignored.

Heart Problems

A heart problem could be behind this combination of panting and shaking. Dogs, just like humans, can experience various heart problems. For instance, the heart can be enlarged and press on the lungs.

As a result, the breathing becomes difficult and leads to panting. Additionally, the dog can also begin shaking as not enough oxygen can get to the blood and properly aerate the important organs.

Imbalance In Blood Sugar

Another reason behind the panting and shaking can be low blood sugar, that is hypoglycemia. These symptoms are one of the main signs of low blood sugar in diabetic dogs. This, however, doesn’t mean that only diabetic dogs have low blood sugar. Some breeds are particularly prone to it,for instance the Chihuahua and the Italian greyhound – both small, delicate breeds.

Fortunately, this isn’t a serious condition and can be solved by honey or maple syrup. If you place one of these sugars under the dog’s tongue, it will get to the blood flow much faster than the regular way. 1 tablespoon every 6 hours is enough, while keeping the dog warm.


If your dog has ingested something toxic, for example a toxic mushroom, the early symptoms can be panting and shaking. This is the body’s way of dealing with the attack. Other symptoms can be vomiting, seizures or collapse.

As you know, a lot of materials and food are bad for dogs and can even be poisonous. Some of them are chocolate, onion, various plants etc. If you suspect or know that your dog has ingested something toxic, take him or her to the vet at once – don’t wait for all the symptoms to appear.

Internal Injuries

Sometimes, the reason behind panting and shaking could be somewhere on the inside. That means that internal injuries or some illness could be the reason why your dog suddenly started shivering and breathing heavily. Whatever it is, it’s causing pain and discomfort and a general weakness. Pale gums could also be a symptom of something being wrong.

The only way to determine the exact cause is to take your pet to the vet who will run tests in order to discover what’s wrong.


If your dog is experiencing severe pain, it could have various consequences on its behavior. Some of them are panting and shaking. Try to discover if your dog is ill or injured, as well as look for other symptoms. Take your dog to the vet who will help you locate the source of pain.

Also, read more on what are the best pain medications for dogs.

Fear, Stress Or Trauma

A frightened dog may experience all kinds of side-effects caused by the fear, panting and shivering included. Other signs are defensive aggression, hiding or running away.

Try to find out where the fear is coming from and eliminate it if possible. Is your dog afraid of fireworks or has something stressful happened recently? Once you’ve determined the cause, it will be easier to deal with the fear.

Shock can lead to panting and tremors as well. Various reasons could be behind it, such as an accident or trauma of some kind. Same rule applies here – find out the cause and try eliminating it.

These were some of the most common reasons behind panting and trembling. But something else could also be behind it – age.

Panting And Trembling In Senior Dogs

Many things change as dogs grow older, nothing new there. They may get arthritis, the hearing isn’t as sharp as before or they may urinate more frequently. They may also pant and shiver more while aging. But why is that?

Why Do Older Dogs Pant And Tremble More?

There is no simple answer to this question. However, the good news is that while these two symptoms usually indicate some health problems in younger dogs, they’re usually benign in older dogs, as long as it’s not excessive.

When it comes to panting, it can be explained by the fact that the diaphragm and intercostal muscles become weaker. As a result, the senior dog may find panting to be an easier solution, as it involves less use of the diaphragm and muscles.

Trembling in older dogs seems to be linked to weakening of muscles and the mild degeneration of the nervous system. Something similar happens with elderly people as well – they tend to tremble more. This kind of shivering usually affects the limbs and jaws.

Additionally, older dogs are more sensitive to excitement and adrenaline. Therefore, it’s not surprising that older dogs tend to shiver and pant more in exciting or scary situations.

Finally, panting can occur due to obesity, which is more common in older dogs. Even though panting itself isn’t dangerous, obesity can lead to other, various problems.

Is Panting And Shaking In Older Dogs Dangerous?

Fortunately, this is rather normal in older dogs. However, it can be dangerous and indicate different medical problems. So, just because it’s usually harmless, don’t overlook other signs that could indicate something being wrong.

Older dogs too can have a heart problem, low blood sugar, heat stroke and other medical conditions. If you notice that something is wrong, take you dog to the vet at once and try dealing with the situation. Just because the reasons behind panting and shaking in older dogs are usually benign, it doesn’t exclude the possibility of something more serious.


Unfortunately, panting and shaking usually indicate a health problem of some kind. They could also be a result of an emotional distress, a fear or shock. However, if you have a senior dog who recently started shaking and panting more than usual, it could just be a sign of him or her getting older.

The most common problem behind this behavior is heat stroke. The first signs of this condition are panting and shivering, which can be followed by more serious symptoms if not treated in time. Other medical conditions that could be the reason are low blood sugar, heart problems, intoxication, pain or internal injuries.

If your dog has been showing these symptoms lately, take your dog to the vet in order to establish what’s behind it. Some conditions, like heat stroke, are rather easy to discover and require immediate action. Others, like some internal injuries, can’t be discovered on your own and veterinary assistance is necessary when determining the cause.

To sum it up – don’t panic, try to remain your calm and think about what could have lead to the panting and shaking your dog is experiencing. Together with your vet you will be able to determine a proper treatment plan and make sure your best friend feels fine again.

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1 comment

  • Ramesh

    My senior dog is a jack Russell n suddenly started to pant n shiver with stiffness . I brought her to the vet- test shows she is fine but glucose high due to stress and she is overweight.
    I’m not sure if food had been the trigger 
    Yesterday she had a pain killer shot n she is fine n at night it started again
    Please help as I’m really concerned