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Why Do Dachshunds Shake?

Dachshund’s popularity has been increasing over the last few years. They are small, cute, and lovable. Like any breed of dog, dachshund’s will shake for a variety of reasons.

A dachshund may shake because they’re cold, wet, scared, or from the sheer excitement and joy of seeing you. More serious reasons your dachshund might shake could be neurological, such as Addison’s disease, or medical, such as arthritis. Dachshunds are also prone to stress and may contract Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

To help you distinguish benign shaking from more harmful variants, we will discuss how to diagnose why your dachshund shakes so you can understand when you might want to consult a vet and when to relax.

Get to Know Your Hound

What do we picture when someone says hound dog? Typically one may imagine a beagle, basset hound, maybe even a bloodhound among a few others, but not a dachshund. However, they rightfully belong to this category.

Dachshunds are hunting dogs. Their job — to dig and wriggle into a badger’s den and rid the area of the pesky little beast, which is why dachshunds are low to the ground, long, and have short legs (source).

Unlike some more substantial breeds, dachshunds come in two sizes: standard and miniature. Standard-size dachshunds are approximately 8 inches tall and can weigh up to 40 pounds. Miniature Dachshunds are about 6 inches tall and typically weigh no more than 11 pounds.

Dachshunds also come in three coat textures: smooth-coated, wire-coated, and long-coated. Each coat type hunted in very different hunting grounds, so the kind of coat your dachshund sports correlates to where they hunted.

Typical Reasons Your Dachshund Shakes

The most typical and least concerning reasons your dachshund may shake include that they may be cold, wet, excited, or stressed.

They are Cold

Dachshunds and dogs, in general, will shake from the cold, especially if they have shorter cats.

As your dachshund shakes or shivers, they are raising their core temperature. The shaking moves the skeletal muscles, which, in turn, produces heat, which will help to warm them.

Long-haired Dachshunds are not as susceptible to cold as the wire and smooth-coated dachshunds are. They lived and hunted in the cold regions of Germany and are thus bred to withstand the colder temperatures (source).

They might be especially cold if their fur is wet. Of course, you would assume that towel drying them would be enough to rid their coat of excess water. However, there is more water than a towel can get.

When a Dachshund is wet, they will shake, which efficiently rids their coats of 70 percent of the water. While you may still want to towel or blow dry them, you will only need to finish the drying process (source).

Image by SUNNY8WIND via Pixabay

They Are Excited

Dachshunds love their humans, and when they anticipate something special is coming their way, they will shake, shiver, and wriggle. Dachshunds are emotional beings, and they may even shake in anticipation of a new toy or treat.

When you leave the house, your dachshund will miss you, even if you only go to the mailbox. Their shaking is pure love and joy that you are back with them.

Stress-Related Reasons

Dachshunds, like humans, experience stress and anxiety. Unlike humans, your dachshund has no way to let you know they are stressed or scared other than shaking.

What could stress your dachshund so much that they shake? Thunderstorms, fireworks, or even the vacuum cleaner, are everyday canine stressors. Your dachshund, unable to discern the noise is not a threat, goes into fight-or-flight mode. Shaking is the physiological response to fear both in dogs and humans.

There are many ways to handle your dachshund’s anxiety. If loud noises are a trigger, try to reduce your dog’s exposure to them, such as vacuuming when they are playing outside.

If storms are an issue, whenever they are calm, reward them and give them a safe space. A snug pressure wrap available at pet stores and online tends to help some dogs. Also, dog-appeasing pheromones have shown promise.

Dachshunds, like other breeds, are emotionally tied to humans, especially their owners. While there are many skeptics, a study reported in Psychology Today by Stanley Coren, PhD., DSc., and FRSC proved that dogs have the empathy and understanding of human toddlers and will seek comfort and give it as well (source).

If you are with your dachshund and feel fearful, anxious, or scared, your dog will feel the same. Never underestimate the power of your dachshund’s connection with you.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is another common stressor frequently seen in dachshunds. Dachshunds do not like to be alone and can develop this condition even as adults.

Signs of separation anxiety include obnoxious barking and destructive behavior. They become restless and concerned you will not return home. Many couches have not survived a dachshund who was not happy at being alone.

Try to give your dog a special toy to distract them while you are not there and play the radio, preferably relaxing instrumental music. Teach your puppy that your leaving is not a big deal and that you are returning using behavior modification techniques. A professional trainer can be an excellent resource here.

Helping your dog cope with separation anxiety is part of keeping them healthy. Consult your vet if other methods are unsuccessful. Your vet can fully evaluate your dog and prescribe medication if they feel it is warranted (source).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), while challenging to diagnose in dogs, is a possible diagnosis for your dachshund. Your vet will ask if your dog acts depressed, is trembling consistently, or always hiding (source).

Other symptoms include persistent barking, panting for no reason, ears are back, their mouth is in a submissive grin, destructiveness, and freezing in place.

If you suspect your dachshund may have this disorder, contact your vet, and they will help your dog through the use of medication and behavioral interventions.

Medical Issues That Cause Shaking

Several medical issues cause shaking in dachshunds such as age-related conditions, exposure to toxins, neurological disorders, distemper, Addison’s Syndrome, and epilepsy.

Age-Related Conditions

While not uncommon or life-threatening, as dachshunds age, they may develop tremors in their hind legs, front legs, or both.

Age-related atrophy of the muscles in the legs will cause your dog to shake and will not significantly impact their mobility. However, it may be a sign of pain, such as arthritis, also commonly seen in aging dogs.

Consult your vet when your dog seems in pain or uncomfortable. There are medications to ease their pain once diagnosed.

Exposure to Toxins

Image by Arek Socha via Pixabay

When exposed to toxins, dogs will shake, drool, vomit, etc. Many everyday household items are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, xylitol, even closed ant traps — your dachshund can chew them.

If your dachshund has been outside and begins shaking, they may have ingested something poisonous such as antifreeze. Immediately call your vet or a poison control center (source).

Neurological Disorders

Diseases of the nervous system will cause shaking, trembling, and even seizures. If the more common reasons are not the cause for your dog’s shaking, your vet may look for neurological diseases.

Diseases the vet may look for include distemper, Addison’s disease, and brain disease.

Distemper

Distemper is rarely seen today as there is a vaccine to prevent it. However, it has nothing to do with your dog’s temperament, as the name suggests. It is an infection that weakens a dog’s immune system.

Symptoms include shaking, sneezing, coughing, mucus from the nose and eyes, and if it travels to the brain, shaking, and seizures are possible.

Only a vet can diagnose distemper, and if you suspect your dog has it, bring them to the vet immediately. However, keep your dog’s vaccines up to date, and you should never have to worry about this potentially fatal disease (source).

Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease is a condition that affects a dog’s adrenal glands, which produce cortisol, thus limiting their ability to deal with stress. Cortisol is the stress hormone. If your dachshund is in a situation they usually handle well and begin to shake, Addison’s is a possible cause.

Once diagnosed, your vet will prescribe hormone replacement therapy to treat your dachshund. Addison’s is a disease your dog will have for life. As a result, your vet will need to closely monitor your dog throughout life as hormone levels can change, and medication will most likely need adjustments.

Epilepsy

A severe condition affecting the brain of dachshunds and other breeds is epilepsy. The cerebellum begins to degenerate, and they may shake, tremor, have seizures, or any combination of the three. Brain trauma, such as a fall off the couch or hitting their head, could lead to epilepsy.

You must bring your dachshund to the vet. Epilepsy is a treatable condition, and your dog can still live a good life with very few seizures once on medication. Your vet will also give you information on what to do for your dog to make them comfortable until the seizure passes.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons your beloved dachshund may shake or tremble and, for the most part, are not a concern. These include being wet, cold, anxious, full of anticipation, or sheer joy.

There are times when consulting your vet may be critical. Separation anxiety, while not life-threatening, is one reason owners abandon their pets. This form of stress is a treatable condition, and your vet has the necessary resources to help your dachshund feel calm.

Other reasons to consult your vet would be if you suspect poisoning, brain trauma, or other neurological issues. Make sure you understand the reasons your dog is shaking so you can both relax and spend many healthy years together.