You may have noticed frequent shaking in your Boston Terrier. Why do Boston Terriers shake so much? There are a number of reasons why Boston Terriers shake.
This can include over-excitement, anxiety or fear, cold temperature, or stress. It may also be for a medical reason. If you have any concerns that your Boston Terriers shaking for a health-related reason consult your vet.
What causes shaking in Boston Terriers
The frequent tremors and shaking in Boston Terriers can be caused by behavioral, environmental or medical factors. Some possible reasons your Boston Terrier is shaking include;
- pent up energy
- they are cold
- anxiety and stress
- old age
- nausea and not feeling well
We will examine the three main categories and what you can do if action is required. Some times the shaking is nothing to be concerned about and simply a cute Boston Terrier trait.
Behavioral Causes of shaking in Boston Terriers
By behavioral causes, we are referring to physical behavior as well as emotional and psychological behaviors.
Vending pent up energy
Despite looking like a cute lapdog, the Boston Terrier is a terrier. Like all terriers that were bred to hunt and catch rats and vermin. They are high adrenaline and energetic. They require daily activity and exercise to release energy. For a guide on how to exercise a Boston Terrier see here.
Boston Terriers are also intelligent and need mental stimulation and enrichment to challenge their minds. Releasing mental energy can tire a dog just as much as physical exercise.
In situations where a Boston Terrier has lots of mental and pent up energy in them but lack outlets for it, they may resort to shaking uncontrollably.
Boston Terriers can be very excitable. When they get into a state of high arousal and excitement they often start to shake.
The trick to keeping a Boston Terrier calm is to catch this state early. Once they are highly aroused it becomes more difficult to settle them. For a guide to calm a hyper Boston Terrier see here.
One way to calm a dog is to use what is known as a calm hold technique.
Calm Hold Technique
Simply place your hand on the side of your dog’s shoulder just holding them still. Don’t make eye contact with them and you don’t even need to say anything. You can hold your Boston Terrier by the collar if you wish to hold them in place with your other hand on the shoulder.
If you wish you can say something like “Relax” in a calm monotone unemotional tone. Once your Boston Terrier has relaxed you can remove your hand.
Rub Stop Area
Another calming technique is to gently rub the stop area of your Boston Terrier. The stop is the area on the bridge of the muzzle between the eyes. Rubbing here releases endorphins to the dog’s brain giving them a calming and relaxing feeling. Rubbing where the ear meets the skull is is another spot that has numerous nerve endings and releases endorphins.
Give them a chew toy
Chewing is a natural instinct for dogs and has many benefits. These include keeping your dog occupied and helping with dental health. However, one of the main benefits of chewing for a dog is that it is extremely relaxing.
When a dog chews it releases endorphins to their brain making them feel happy, calm and releases stress. For more on the benefits of chewing and the best chew toys for your Boston Terrier see here.
Anxiety or fear
The quite common cause of anxiety in a Boston Terrier is fear or uncertainty. This may be the result of fireworks, a change in circumstances, or even separation. When a Boston Terrier is anxious they may start to shake.
Some ways to help reduce anxiety in your Boston Terrier include;
This is a diffuser you plug into a power outlet that releases dog appeasing pheromones that give then a calm feeling. To us, these scents are odorless and are only perceived by dogs and provide a strong signal of security and comfort. The diffuser will cover an area of up to 700 sq. ft. It comes with a diffuser head and a vile that lasts up to 30 days. Replacement viles are also available on Amazon
This is a well known homeopathic remedy that has been around for 80 years. It is quite commonly used by humans to feel relaxed, calm and stress-free. As a dog groomer, I have used Rescue remedy with great success when working with highly anxious dogs. Easy to use as you just put a drop or two on the tongue.
Environmental Causes of shaking in Boston Terriers
The most common environmental reason why your Boston Terrier could be shaking and shivering is due to cold conditions. Boston Terriers only has a fine coat and lacks a heavy undercoat like many breeds.
They are also small in size, which means they do not have so much of body fat they can burn during chilly conditions to produce body heat. This explains why winter can easily take a toll on them, necessitating trembling.
Usually, the shaking mechanism is believed to trigger the production of heat in the body. This heat is meant to offset the chilly conditions and regulate the Boston Terriers’ temperature.
If your Boston Terrier is feeling the cold you can put a dog jacket on them or keep them inside unless they are active and running around. Exercise will naturally increase their body temperature.
Medical Causes of shaking in Boston Terriers
If your Boston Terriers shaking seems out of the ordinary or is continuous there may be a medical reason for it. If you have any doubts that your Boston Terriers shaking is more than a natural behavior such as a response to excitement or being cold consult your vet.
These are some of the potential medical causes that shaking may be a symptom off.
The first health-related cause of Boston Terriers’ shaking is a condition known as hypoglycemia. Basically, hypoglycemia is a condition characterized by a low blood sugar level. As you probably already know, intense physical exercise is linked to a drop in blood sugar.
Though you want your Boston Terrier to maintain its active, playful nature, it is important to remember they might suffer from hypoglycemia as a result. The case is often worsened when your Boston Terrier also has irregular eating habits, as this means there are no clear mechanisms of replenishing the depleted blood sugar. Most hypoglycemic shaking episodes last 15 to 20 minutes but could be longer for smaller and/or younger dogs.
Nausea and not feeling well is also a common cause for Boston Terrier tremors. Your dog could be feeling nauseated from eating something his body does not agree with. However, many cases of nausea may be a symptom of a medical condition.
This is an autoimmune common medical condition causing trembling in your dog. Shaker Syndrome is also known as idiopathic cerebellitis, which means it is an inflammation of the cerebellum [the part of your dog’s brain in charge of the coordination of all voluntary muscular movements].
The condition is characterized by generalized head and full body tremors. Shaker syndrome is also marked by involuntary rhythmic and repetitive tremors. The tremors could range from very feeble to potentially incapacitating.
You will also notice that tremors improve with eating and rest, but worsen with excitement and exercise. If not diagnosed and treated in time, the shaking could progress to vision problems such as nystagmus, a condition marked by rhythmic back-and-forth eye movement.
Basically, Addison’s disease manifests itself in canines nearly the same way it does in humans. Also known as adrenal insufficiency, the disorder occurs due to a deficiency in certain hormone
In most cases, the disease leads to an under-secretion of cortisol and aldosterone by your Boston Terriers’ adrenal glands. Apart from shaking, other symptoms of Addison’s disease include irritability, generalized fatigue, weight loss, muscle or joint pains as well as gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Addison’s disease is normally characterized by extremely low blood pressure, hyperkalemia [high level of blood potassium] and hyponatremia [low levels of sodium in blood]. The disease often gets worse when the dog is exposed to further stressful situations such as panic, intense activity, and other medical conditions.
Myokymia is an involuntary and spontaneous shaking condition that affects certain muscles or bundles of muscles. It is often localized, to mean it normally targets specific muscles at a time.
It could affect any muscles in your Boston Terrier; from the leg muscles to the neck and even the eye muscles. The condition is commonly caused by too much anxiety, dehydration, fatigue, lack of sleep and too much exercise.
Apart from these major conditions, the following are some more medical causes of trembling in your Yorkie.
Scotty cramp – These are muscle cramps that are triggered by intense exercise or excitement.
Myelodysplasia – Poor brain development causing coordination issues.
Epileptic seizures – Seizures resulting from recurrent brain injury, but could also be idiopathic.
Hydrocephalus – The accumulation of fluid inside the brain.
Congenital Myasthenia Gravis – Very severe weakness and degeneration of muscles.
If you are concerned that your Boston Terrier has any of these medical conditions it is best not to try to self diagnose. Consult your vet.
Summary – Why do Boston Terriers shake
There are a number of reasons why Boston Terriers shake. These reasons can be classified into behavioral, environmental, and medical. This can include over-excitement, anxiety or fear, cold temperature, or stress. It may also be for a medical reason
Evidently, there are so many possible causes of trembling in Boston Terriers. If you have any doubts about what is causing your Boston Terrier to shake you should consult a vet as soon as possible. Though you may want to diagnose the cause and apply remedies on your own, it is always wiser to consult a veterinary expert.
They will not only treat the symptoms but also diagnose any underlying medical conditions and prescribe the right treatment plan.
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