It is very alarming to see your Jack Russell shaking. Occasional shaking can be brushed off as not meaning anything, however, there is a reason why it happens.
Let’s dive into the reasons behind Jack Russell Terrier shaking and what you can do about it.
Jack Russell shaking happens due to several factors which include excitement, anxiety, being cold, underlying health conditions, poisoning, old age, and pain. Shaking is usually not an emergency situation but it should not be ignored because it can be a sign of a serious underlying condition.
Signs of Jack Russell Shaking
The shaking can be in the limbs or the whole body which can also be unpredictable for an unspecified time. The signs include:
- Shaking when they try to move or walk
- Shaking in the limbs while they are resting
- Increased anxiousness when involved in any task that requires movement
- Episodes of the whole body shaking
- Consistent twitching that occurs when sleeping
- Difficulty in completion of simple tasks such as jumping or climbing stairs
Reasons Behind Jack Russell Shaking
The common reasons for Jack Russell shaking are:
Stress and anxiety
Anxiety can make a Jack Russell shake. This is a common body reaction caused by a trigger.
Anxiety can be caused by environmental stimuli such as loud noises, and exposure to new people and animals. When your Jack Russell is exposed to these, they experience extreme anxiety and their body naturally responds by shaking.
Shaking of the body or limbs is also one of the signs of separation anxiety in a Jack Russell.
A Jack Russell will shake due to extreme excitement. Excitement can come about around mealtime when they see food. They can be overjoyed during meal time and you might notice shaking.
Shaking can also occur when they’re excited to see you. This is a normal and natural body reaction when they are filled with joy.
When a Jack Russell feels cold, their body will shake. This is also a natural and normal reaction of the body in response to the cold which helps to regenerate body heat to keep warm.
You will also notice this when your Jack Russell sleeps while temperatures are low. Their body will shake while they’re sleeping.
Old age is a factor that can cause a Jack Russell’s body or limbs to shake. This is because there is atrophy of muscles which is the degeneration of muscles due to aging and reduced physical activity.
Atrophy of muscles is progressive and is common in aging dogs, dogs that don’t get enough exercise as well as sick dogs.
This is noticeable by observation of tremors in their legs, especially the hind legs and hips which affect how they walk.
Diseases such as myositis and degenerative myelopathy can also cause atrophy of muscles causing shaking
Ingestion of poisonous or toxic substances can cause a Jack Russell to have a reaction that leads to shaking in addition to other symptoms.
Toxic substances include household cleaning products, antifreeze, xylitol, and even chocolate.
These are substances that your dog should not have access to because of the risk of poisoning when ingested.
A Jack Russell in pain due to injury or disease will also experience shaking of their body as a physical response.
Injuries such as fractures of the limbs or illness that they may be suffering can cause extreme pain which causes them to shake.
Underlying health condition
An underlying health condition in a Jack Russell can result in shaking as one of the symptoms.
Diseases that can cause shaking of the limbs or the body of a Jack Russell include cerebellar, low blood sugar, ear problems, Addison’s disease, Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS), seizures, distemper, nausea, liver and kidney disease.
Jack Russell shaking while breathing fast
When a Jack Russell is shaking while breathing fast, this indicates that their airway is constricted or there is a tracheal collapse. The shaking happens when a Jack Russell cannot keep their airway open.
This can happen due to injury, or during excessive panting which causes a Jack Russell to be under extreme discomfort, stress, and pain.
Seek medical attention immediately when you notice your Jack Russell is shaking while breathing heavily because this is a serious condition.
What should I do if my Jack Russell is shaking?
When you observe your Jack Russell shaking, take note of their behavior, when the shaking happens, and also if there are other additional symptoms.
This will inform you of the best action to take and also have information that will be helpful when you contact your veterinarian. The following includes the first steps to take:
Remove the environmental stimuli
The shaking of a Jack Russell can sometimes be a normal body reaction due to environmental stimuli which does not require medical attention. The solution is to address the trigger.
The shaking of a Jack Russell can be due to environmental stimuli such as loud noise. To calm your dog and prevent them from physically reacting to this, remove them from exposure to these triggers.
If the home environment has a source of loud noise, move your Jack Russell to an area in your home that is quiet.
Also, limit the interaction of your dog with new people and animals if these are sources of their anxiety.
Keep them warm
Observe your dog for signs that they might be feeling cold. This includes shaking or shivering, being hunched over with tucked tail to keep warm, lifting paws off the ground, and excessive whining or barking.
If your Jack Russell is shaking because of feeling cold, provide a warm environment for them to keep them warm.
Separation anxiety in Jack Russell is a behavior problem that can be managed through dedicated training, desensitization exercises, and behavior modification to help calm them.
Medication may be recommended by your veterinarian in extreme cases.
When to seek help
As a Jack Russell owner, it is important to recognize the reasons behind your dog’s shaking.
Some reasons are not critical compared to others and can be addressed easily, however, being able to differentiate between harmless shaking from an emergency situation is important.
If a Jack Russell’s shaking is not due to excitement, cold or environmental stressors, it’s probably time to see a veterinarian.
Seek medical attention when:
- Shaking is accompanied by other symptoms: Shaking that is accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, excessive panting, drooling, weakness, anxiety, or limping should always be taken seriously. These symptoms indicate that a serious medical condition could be the cause of the shaking and that medical attention is required.
- Poisoning: If the shaking is due to poisoning and you have determined or suspect that your dog has ingested a toxic substance, this needs immediate medical attention. All poisoning cases should be addressed by the nearest pet emergency center or your veterinarian.
- Continuous shaking: Contact your veterinarian immediately when you notice that the shaking lasts for several minutes. Seizures and other serious health conditions have this presentation.
- Frequent episodes occur: If the shaking occurs frequently over a period of time seek medical attention.
- Shaking interferes with your dog’s daily life: Shaking may prevent your dog from engaging in daily activities such as playing, eating, or sleeping. If they also look distressed due to the shaking, seek medical attention.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the shaking, whether behavioral, environmental, or due to medical reasons.
Many of the diseases that cause shaking of the limbs or body are treatable therefore the veterinarian will provide the necessary treatment and at-home management.
Jack Russell shaking might seem normal but also it can be because of a serious underlying health problem.
It is important to monitor your Jack Russell to notice when this happens and also if they have other symptoms in addition to the shaking.
This will inform you on the actions to take and also when to seek medical attention so that your Jack Russell is examined to determine the underlying reason.
The sooner your dog is treated the better for them and the results if an underlying health condition is the cause of the shaking.