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Lisa, Certified Vet Tech
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16554
Experience:  AAS Vet Tech. Bully breed rehab & Behavior modification
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My dog intermittantly shivers when he inhales. this can happen

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My dog intermittantly shivers when he inhales. this can happen both when he is asleep or awake. He is a found dog and I believe that he is about 5 years old
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Lisa replied 7 years ago.



Dogs shiver for a variety of reasons.


First and the most obvious to most people is the fact that they are indeed cold. Shivering contracts the muscles to stimulate heat. Since I assume you have already addressed this issue--lets explore other possibilities.


The next two are medical and behavior issues.


Medically based:

Trembling and shivering are also indicators that a dog is in pain. If your dog is shivering on a constant basis you should rule out any medical conditions. You need to give your pup a complete body check to see if there are any sensitive or painful areas. Touch the whole body gently and carefully. Run your fingers down the back and legs gently, check under the tail. Check between toes and check the pads of the feet. Look at the face, cup it in your hands and slide your hands down the chest. Check eyes, ears, and mouth. Look on the belly and rub it gently. Even if your pup does not appear to be sensitive to your physical touch, there are still many metabolic problems that could cause pain. Make sure our dog is medically cleared by your veterinarian before assuming that the shivering is not medically based. (Especially if you notice anything else abnormal--not eating, listless, vomiting, diarrhea, limping, reluctant to run or jump, etc.)


Behavior based:

Good signs that the shivering is behavior based is that it is NOT constant. If your pup doesn't shake when eating, playing, interested in walks or "gets to go for a ride," etc. Shivering can be a symptom of stress, separation anxiety, and or fear. See this site for more info: ?


Dogs can also use shivering as an attention getting behavior. Remember, dogs will repeat a behavior that gets a positive response. That's the whole premise of positive rewarded--based dog training. So just like sitting politely (dog's behavior) brings forth a cookie (positive reinforcement), some dogs have found that shivering (dog's behavior) brings forth mom's concern in the form of attention (positive reinforcement.)


If you think this may be the problem you will need to determine what initiates this behavior and how you may be unconsciously rewarding the behavior. For example-- if your pup only starts to shiver when you start to leave the house and you notice the shivering and come back to pet and "reassure your dog that its ok" then you are rewarding the shivering behavior. As long as the shivering is rewarded the behavior will continue! To extinguish this behavior you will need to start ignoring the shivering and reward and pay attention to the dog when NOT shivering. You can also try distraction by playing games with working with and reinforcing basic obedience skills. Remember NO positive reinforcement when your pup is shivering!


In short, make sure there are no medical reasons for the shivering and if not, then address the behavior issues. You also might find it helpful to enlist a good trainer to help you with her behavior issues if needed. Just make sure the trainer is a positive, reward based trainer!

I hope this helps!!

Lisa and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Some additional information - about 1.5 months ago my dog would let out a yelp of pain for no apparent reason. Went to several vets and were referred to a couple of specialists. The suggestions ranged from two foxtails in the right ear, bladder infection, to a cervical (or lumbar) lesion (tumor, herniated disc, pinched nerve, etc). It was during this period that he started the tremor on inhalation. it was so pronounced that at times, if he was laying on his side,the tremor would lift his back legs off the floor. one time he was asleep and the vet woke him up and they still continued. There was a short period of remadyl and antibotics that was shifted to a different antibiotic, prednisone, and gabapentin. He has been off all the drugs for a period of about two weeks +/-. During and after the Prednisone he was prone to urinate where ever he was (office, bedroom, etc)

He has also developed what they have diaganosed as Horner's Syndrom in his right eye. i understand that this is due to neurological trauma (?) and will typically go away with time.

Also, he seems to have aged 10 years, has become fearful and apprehensive, and at times is very listless. On the other hand at times I will take him for a short walk (on a harness) and he exhibits the alertness, presence, and bounce that I typically associate with him. his appetite is for the most part good and his thirst is still somewhat elevated (prednisone??)

The vet is recommending an MRI or CT scan.

What is your suggestion regarding the general situation and would you recommend that I pursue one of the tests?

Please respond

Thank you - Gary

Expert:  Lisa replied 7 years ago.

Hi again~


I actually think the first thing I'd do is ask your vet for a 4DX test...this is a test that looks for both Lyme Disease and Anaplasma...both of which are tick-borne diseases that can present with symptoms much like your dog is showing (listlessness, pain that comes and goes, ect). Since he was a 'found' dog, and there's really no way to know his background and whether he was protected against ticks and their diseases, this is where I'd start.


If the 4DX is negative, then having the MRI or the CT scan might not be a bad idea, just to make sure there's not something more going on.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thank you for your follow up!!!


As to "found" that was four years ago.


Your suggestion made me check my records and on 9/27/09, when this all started, they ran a Canine Snap 4DX test which came up negative for heartworm, Phagocytophilum, Burgdorferi, and Canis antibodies.


Which would you recommend (MRI or CT) and why???


I really do thank you - Gary