Does shaking mean my dog is in pain?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – My dog is a 17-year-old Shih Tzu and for the past week we have noticed that her appetite has decreased and today is Friday and she has not eaten any food, she has an appointment with the vet tomorrow and she is now shaking more than she has in the past. Our other dog like her died last year started with these same symptoms but this one seems to have lost weight quickly. Does her shaking continuously mean she is in pain?


Betty Jones


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote that your 17-year-old Shih Tzu is not eating and shaking. I'd recommend that you have your dog evaluated as soon as possible. I'd call your vet to determine if there is a cancellation and you get her in quicker. If not – you can always consider using an emergency or after-hours clinic.

Your question was – does the shaking mean she is in pain. The answer is – it could. Some dogs shake for different reasons. Some dogs will shake if they are cold, they have a fever, they are in pain, nervous, don't feel good, are injured, etc. I'm not sure why your dog is shaking but if she is not eating, obviously something is wrong.

I'd recommend that you have her examined as soon as possible. If she is in pain, we don't want her to suffer needlessly. In the meantime, encourage her to eat and drink. Offer some fresh food or even canned food and water. Monitor all her bodily functions such as urine, bowel movements, any vomiting or other abnormalities.

Articles that might be helpful to you are:

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Ill
Tips on Getting Sick Dogs to Eat
Anorexia (Loss of Appetite) in Dogs

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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