11 Reasons Why Schnauzers Shake, Shiver & Tremble So Much


When you notice your schnauzer shake, shiver or tremble, it can be very concerning. Sometimes it can be rather harmless for a schnauzer to shiver but in other situations it’s quite serious.

Why Do Schnauzers Shiver:

Schnauzers can shiver for harmless reasons as well as serious reasons. Some of the less serious reasons for your schnauzer to shiver are over excitement, they’re nervous, or they’re cold. More serious reasons are canine distemper, generalized tremor syndrome or excessive pain.

In this post you’ll discover 11 of the more common reasons for a schnauzer to shiver, some less serious, some quite serious as well as helpful tips to help your schnauzer stop shivering.

Let’s jump right in.

Common Reasons Why a Schnauzer Would Shake

1) Cold

Just like when you’ve spent too much time out in the cold and start to shiver, so will your schnauzer.

If you live in an area where the temperature gets dramatically lower at night or certain months of the year, you may find your schnauzer shaking often.

The main reason for this is they have no protection from the freezing ground.

Since they don’t wear shoes like you and I do, their paws are constantly in contact with the cold ground… Which then gives them a chill.

Not only this, but their entire body is closer to the ground as well which gives them a higher chance of being cold.

Their shaking is a natural response in an attempt to warm them up.

If you notice that quite often your pup shivers due to the cold, it might be worth getting them some little booties or a jacket.

Regardless of how you feel these look on animals, your schnauzer may really appreciate having them.

2) Old Age

When your schnauzer starts to get into their senior years you may start to notice them shake and tremble more.

This is largely to do with the fact that they aren’t as strong as they once were. Their muscles start to become weaker and simple things become more challenging for them.

And weak muscles are a big reason for a senior dog to shiver.

When a muscle is weak and is struggling to hold whatever weight it’s holding, it will shake.

Also, it’s not terribly uncommon for an older schnauzer to have some unknown injuries or underlying health issues.

If they do have something negatively affecting them, it will take a lot of their body’s energy to fight it off and heal them.

This then leaves them with less energy for ordinary activities which results in their body shivering.

As your pup moves into their senior years it’s a good idea to start taking them to the vet regularly.

A couple times a year can make a big difference in spotting anything unusual before it gets serious.

3) Overly Excited

It’s entirely possible that your schnauzer is shivering because they’re overly excited.

In this case, there’s really nothing to worry about. It’s actually quite cute that they can be so excited about something.

Much like a young child, your schnauzer may not be able to hide their excitement and shakes as a result.

If you notice that they’re shaking right before you feed them, right before they get a treat, when they’re about to go for a car ride, or anything they absolutely love, there’s a good chance they’re shaking out of excitement.

If you don’t notice them shaking or shivering at any other times, there’s likely nothing to be worried about.

A trip to the vet is never a bad idea to be 100% sure. But if they confirm nothing’s wrong you can simply embrace their adorable over-the-top excitement.

4) Nervous/Scared

If your schnauzer is feeling frightened or nervous, their body will produce more adrenaline as a response and naturally tense up.

Your pup isn’t able to control this response, it’s hardwired into their brain.

And when muscles are contracted for an extended period of time, once the contraction stops, the muscles shake/shiver due to fatigue.

Not to mention that when more adrenaline is produced in their body it makes their heart rate go up as well as their blood pressure.

If you notice your schnauzer start to shiver out of the blue, take a quick look at your surroundings. Do your best to find what is triggering their fear.

Is it a loud noise? A potentially threatening dog? A stranger approaching or already approached them?

If you can find the trigger you can help train them to cope with similar situations or avoid putting them in situations where their trigger is.

5) Anxious

When a schnauzer is anxious, their body has a similar reaction to when they’re scared/nervous.

The major difference between anxiousness and nervousness is that anxiety is typically caused by an emotional feeling. Whereas being scared will generally come from a potential physical threat.

Regardless, both situations will make your schnauzer tense up as well as produce a rush of adrenaline to help them survive their situation.

Separation anxiety is generally the most common form of anxiety that dog’s face.

If you adopted your schnauzer later in their life and they’ve been anxious for as long as you’ve had them, they likely have traumatic experiences when they were a pup.

If you got your schnauzer from puppyhood and their shivering is quite new, some changes to their life could cause their anxiety.

A few sudden changes that can affect your pup are having new people in your home, a change in routine/schedule, grieving over the loss of a loved one, or change in where they live.

6) Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is the medical term for low blood sugar.

If your schnauzer has a high metabolism, they might be burning through their food too quickly.

When this happens, they may develop hypoglycemia because their body isn’t getting enough calories due to their high metabolism.

This can then result in muscle tremors or even seizures.

To avoid this it’s important to feed your schnauzer calorie dense meals a few times a day.

It’s a good idea to consult with a vet about your pups dietary needs to ensure you’re giving them enough of what they need.

A simple formula you can use in the meantime that can help you know roughly how many calories they should be eating is:

Their weight in kilograms (weight in pounds divided by 2.2)

Multiplied by 30.

Add 70.

For example, if your schnauzer weighs 41 pounds it would look like this.

41 / 2.2 = 18.64

18.64 x 30 = 559.2

559.2 + 70 = 629.2 daily calories

7) Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a virus that could potentially be fatal to any dog that has it.

Of course the earlier that it’s diagnosed, the better.

If your schnauzer isn’t fully up to date on their vaccinations their shivering could be symptoms of the second stage of canine distemper.

Muscle twitching and seizures can also happen in the second stage.

If your schnauzer is missing some vaccinations and is shivering it’s important to take them to the vet to be looked at.

8) Generalized Tremor Syndrome

Generalized tremor syndrome (GTS) most commonly comes from a mild form of central nervous system disease.

PetMD says that GTS is easily mistaken for anxiety or being cold.

This is why it’s never a bad idea to take your pup to the vet when you notice unusual behavior.

Especially if it’s not super cold outside or if your schnauzer hasn’t shown signs of anxiety in the past.

9) Seizure

Many people are aware that when a dog is having a seizure that their body shakes excessively.

But what you might also notice after their seizure is that their body is still shivering a little bit.

This is because a seizure is an extremely tiring experience. Their whole body is fully tensed up for however long their seizure was.

Not only does it take a lot out of them but it’s a complete shock to their system.

If your schnauzer has recently had a seizure it’s important to take them to the vet.

10) Extreme Pain

If your schnauzer is in an extreme amount of pain, they may shake or shiver as a result.

Whether it’s an internal or external wound, if there’s enough pain it could cause a shock to their system.

And what happens when their body is in shock? It tenses up.

Similar to anxiety and being afraid, their body will produce more adrenaline when they’re in a lot of pain and tighten up.

This is an attempt to help them cope with whatevers hurting them.

Once their body loosens up, it’ll likely start to shiver.

If you didn’t think their wound was very serious, or didn’t even know they were in pain, it’s important to take them to the vet.

11) Upset Stomach

If your schnauzer ate something that didn’t agree with them, are taking medication that’s not sitting well or they have a bug/parasite, this could be why they’re shivering.

In any of these situations you might also notice they’re unable to keep their food down or have consistent diarrhoea.

And since their body isn’t able to hold on to any of their food they’re lacking nutrients and likely in a calorie deficit.

When your pup is lacking energy like any animal does when they can’t retain their food, they’ll shake because they feel weak.

Certain human foods that should absolutely be stayed away from are grapes, raisins or chocolate. Each of these are very bad for your dog to eat.

If your schnauzer is throwing up often and hasn’t had a solid poop for too many days in a row they should be taken to the vet. 

Other posts you might find interesting:

9 Reasons Why Your Schnauzer Grunts & Groans + 3 Tips

8x Why Schnauzers Are So Aggressive + 11 Tips To Stop It

7 Reasons Why Your Schnauzer Eats Everything + 5 Tips

9 Reasons Why Schnauzers Dig + 7 Tips To Reduce It

Citations:

Shaker Syndrome in Dogs

Nutritional Differences for Small, Toy, and Large Breed Dogs

Nutrition – General Feeding Guidelines for Dogs

Distemper in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Separation Anxiety

Alec Littlejohn

Founder and Reviewer at Pawscessories. He is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! He grew up in a family of vets and to this day he helps out around the family clinic and shares his learnings on Pawscessories. Learn more about Alec's story here

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