Most dogs are voracious eaters, willing to eat whatever is served and whenever offered. Therefore, it comes as a surprise for pet owners when suddenly their dogs start shaking after finishing their meal. After all, shaking is perceived as a red flag.
Dog shakes after eating – why and what to do? Dogs can shake after eating due to an array of reasons, from cold ambient temperatures and cold dog food to strong feelings to medical issues such as dental problems, intoxications, and systemic conditions. If your dog is shaking after eating, it is best to call the vet and schedule a visit.
In this article, we will talk about dogs shaking after eating. We will go into the detail of the possible underlying issues and explain when it is time to call the vet. We will also give tips on what to do and how to evaluate the situation.
Why Does My Dog Shake After Eating?
There are many reasons dogs might shake after eating. Some are normal and quite expected, while others are considered problematic. The second group can be divided into two categories – behavioral and physical. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons dogs shake after having a tasty meal.
Reason number 1: Cold temperatures
Cold ambient temperatures will make dogs shake. For example, if feeding the dog outside during colder months, it is expected for the dog to shake after eating. Plus, immediately after meals, the blood concentrates in the GI tract to focus on digestion leading to a slight body temperature drop. Eating cold dog food can also makes dogs shake (especially toy and small dog breeds).
Reason number 2: Excitement, fear, and anxiety
Another reason for shaking after eating is strong emotions such as excitement, fear, and anxiety. Excitement is usually linked with the mealtime itself as most dogs are food-motivated. As for fear and anxiety, a lot of stressors can make the dog uncomfortable during eating. As a result, the dog may start shaking once the meal is over and its mind is taken away from the food.
Reason number 3: Dental issues
A dog with dental issues is likely to shake after eating because of the pain. Dogs are prone to several dental conditions, from broken teeth to tartar buildup to gingivitis. Since dogs are voracious eaters, they will try to ignore the pain and eat but shake afterward. Also, it is not uncommon for dogs with dental issues to whine all of a sudden while eating and then leave the food bowl half-fool.
Reason number 4: Nausea
A dog that overeats or eats too fast may feel nauseated once the meal is finished. In such cases, the shaking is a sign of the overall feeling of nausea. Luckily, this is easy to solve – just start serving smaller portions or use slow feeding bowls for the dog. A nauseated dog may vomit and attempt to eat the vomit once again.
Reason number 5: Intoxication
Eating toxic things (human foods, medications, or household products) results in intoxications. Shaking is one of the telltale signs of intoxication. Other signs would include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, trouble walking, loss of balance, and even seizures. A dog with food intoxication is considered an emergency and requires immediate veterinary attention.
Reason number 6: Generalized tremor syndrome
Also known as shaker syndrome, generalized tremor syndrome (GTS) in dogs causes sudden shaking episodes. The condition is typical for small white dogs such as Maltese dogs, West Highland Terriers, and Poodles. The exact cause of the syndrome is unknown but based on recent theories; it is postulated that it has an autoimmune origin. Dogs with GTS respond positively to corticosteroids.
Reason number 7: Canine distemper
Canine distemper is a viral, highly contagious disease usually affecting puppies but also unvaccinated adults. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and nervous systems. Shaking is one of the telltale signs of canine distemper. A dog with canine distemper may shake regardless of the mealtime and will show additional signs and symptoms.
Reason number 8: Seizure disorder
When someone says seizures, we imagine a dog falling to one side and shaking vigorously. However, some seizure episodes are more subtle and manifest with nothing but mild shaking. Therefore, if your dog is shaking after eating, seizures are a possible scenario that needs to be considered. Usually, seizures are triggered by strong emotions, and mealtime is a strong emotion for many dogs.
Reason number 9: Kidney issues
Dogs with kidney issues may shake after eating. They can also start shaking unexpectedly, but the chances of noticing the shaking are greater after the meal as you are close to the dog and picking up the food bowls. Dogs, especially certain breeds, are particularly prone to kidney diseases. If left untreated, they can lead to permanent damage and kidney failure.
Reason number 10: Underactive adrenal glands
The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys, and their main role is the production of adrenal hormones. If the adrenal glands fail to produce adequate amounts of adrenal hormones, they become underactive. Sudden shivering episodes are one of the symptoms of underactive adrenal glands. It is not unusual for the episodes to kick in just after eating.
Should I Be Worried if My Dog Is Shaking After Eating?
Yes, shivering is a red flag. Although not always indicative of a serious underlying problem, more often than not, shivering is a worrisome sign that requires further investigation.
The general rule of the thumb would be to call your trusted veterinarian and seek help. Best-case scenario, everything will be fine with the dog. Worst-case scenario, the vet will reach a prompt diagnosis, thus increasing the chances of a positive outcome.
What Can I Do if My Dog Is Shaking After Eating?
If your dog is shaking after eating, you need to consult with the vet. However, before calling the vet, it is advisable to evaluate the situation – that way, you will be able to provide more information and make the diagnostic process easier.
For example, you should pay attention to things like:
- Does the dog shake after all meals or after eating specific foods
- Is the shaking universal or occurring at particular times of the day
- Whether the shaking intensity is always the same or varies
- If it varies, what is different
- Does the dog show any other worrisome signs and symptoms
- When did the shaking start
- How long do the shaking episodes last?
Once you have answers to these questions, you will be able to have an educated conversation with the vet. It is also helpful if you can record a shaking session. Watching how the dog shakes can help the vet evaluate the situation. Plus, the vet’s trained eyes are better at picking up subtle cues you might be missing.
Summing Up: Dog Shakes After Eating
All in all, a dog shaking after eating is not an unusual scenario. In some cases, a dog shaking is even expected and normal. However, more often than not, it is indicative of an underlying problem.
The sooner you seek veterinary help and get to the bottom of the problem, the better. The management of the issue depends on the exact underlying problem and is something you should thoroughly discuss with your trusted veterinarian.