Why Is My Yorkie Shaking? Tell the Difference Between Normal Shaking and Serious Health Warning Signs

🔄 Updated on November 25th, 2022

veterinarian-examining-yorkshire-terrier-that-is-shaking

Yorkie owners ask a common question: “Why is my Yorkie shaking?”

My Yorkie shakes a lot, and after I got her, I panicked at how often she trembled. I thought her constant shaking meant that something was wrong with her. I was used to having bigger dogs that didn’t shake.

The smaller dog breeds tend to shake more often, but I didn’t know that. I thought things like “my Yorkie is shaking, so she must be sick” and “why does my Yorkie shake if she’s healthy?”

The vet explained that she was a high-strung dog who trembled when she was excited and happy to see me.

Let’s look at the possible reasons and answer, “Why do Yorkies shake?”

Why Is My Yorkie Shaking? Common Reasons

The good news is that Yorkshire Terrier shaking is usually normal. You don’t need to assume that something is wrong with your dog if it’s shaking. 

If your Yorkie shakes and doesn’t show any other symptoms, your dog is probably happy to see you or cold. When shaking means something more, other signs are usually evident and hard to miss. 

Here are some of the most common reasons your Yorkie shakes. 

Your Yorkie Is Cold

Dogs, just like people, will tremble if they get too chilly. Yorkies are small dogs that don’t have very much body fat to fend off the cold, and they don’t have as much fur to keep them warm as many other breeds.

Yorkshire Terriers don’t have an undercoat, so they naturally have less insulation against colder temperatures than dogs that do. No undercoat makes them easier to brush and keep tangle-free, but they don’t tolerate cold very well without it. 

Shivering helps warm them up the same as it does us. You might consider buying a sweater or coat for your dog when you take it outside in the wintertime to help keep it warmer.

My Yorkie loves to snuggle under my lap under a blanket to keep warm, so provide places your dog can curl up in blankets or lie near heaters or fireplaces. 

Stress and Excitement

Yorkies often tremble when they get excited or stressed. The only way to tell whether they’re shaking from excitement, nervousness, or fear is by understanding the situation and knowing your dog.

Smaller dogs are more high-strung and get nervous in new situations or around new people. You can help prevent this by socializing your dog and introducing them to new situations, particularly as a puppy.

If your dog is trembling because a new person is nearby or there are children around, and they’re not used to kids, make sure the dog can escape the situation if it becomes too much for them.

If you think your dog is nervous or afraid, hold it until the trembling passes and try to figure out what might have triggered the behavior.

A Yorkshire Terrier shivering every time you walk in the door is happy and excited to see you. The shaking should pass as the dog calms down and realizes you’re staying for a while. 

Digestive Issues

Has your Yorkie been vomiting? How long has it been since your dog went outside to do its business? 

If your dog’s constipated, it could feel nauseous, triggering shaking. Or diarrhea and the slight dehydration it might cause could be the problem. Knowing your dog and paying attention to its elimination habits so you know whether it’s passing solid stools or liquid can help.

If your dog’s stomach is upset, it will usually yawn frequently, throw up, and maybe drool and slobber. Yorkies aren’t a slobbery breed, so if your dog is drooling, that’s a sign that something might be wrong.

Many issues can cause diarrhea, from a virus to serious health issues. Constipation has multiple causes too, but it can be severe in the case of a bowel obstruction. If your dog’s eating and elimination habits change along with the shaking, call the vet to rule out serious causes. 

Illness

While it’s impossible to diagnose every minor illness that could make you ask, “Why is my Yorkie shaking?” the more serious ones are usually difficult to miss. 

Shaking, coughing, discharge from the mucous membranes like the nose and eyes, urination in the house for a potty-trained dog, or shaking badly enough to interfere with its gait could be signs of a serious illness like canine distemper or another condition.

Any time other symptoms accompany the shaking, it could be pointing to a deeper problem and is worth a call to your veterinarian. 

Low Blood Sugar

In cases where your dog hasn’t eaten in a long time, it could have low blood sugar. If you know your dog has diabetes or blood sugar issues, the shaking could signify that the dog needs to eat immediately.

A Yorkshire Terrier with low blood sugar will usually appear lethargic and disinterested in its surroundings. Make sure the dog eats immediately and consider a trip to the vet if you suspect this is the case. Low blood sugar can be a sign of diabetes. Diabetes that goes untreated can lead to organ damage, seizures, coma, and death.

Your dog doesn’t have to be diabetic to be suffering from low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, though. It can happen if your dog hasn’t eaten enough food. Your Yorkie should be eating at least twice a day.

Intense stress can affect blood sugar levels. Common triggers for major stress in small dogs are big changes like:

  • Moving to a new house.
  • Absent owners, such as during a vacation.
  • Adding a new pet.
  • Bringing home a new baby or member of the family.

Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog is lethargic and won’t eat. 

Your vet may have to administer glucose through an IV to quickly bring the dog’s blood sugar level to normal and avoid damage. They might advise you to rub honey on your dog’s gums to introduce sugar quickly. 

Poisoning

If your Yorkie is shaking and you’ve recently brought in new house plants or given your dog food it hasn’t had before, especially table scraps or foods you eat, your dog might be reacting to a toxic substance.

Because Yorkshire Terriers only weigh a couple of pounds, it doesn’t take much of a poisonous compound to affect them significantly.

Foods like chocolate, grapes and many others are dangerous foods for dogs. Many cleaning chemicals and products like bleach and ammonia can make dogs (and people) sick.

Common popular houseplants like ivy can make dogs sick if they ingest the leaves, stems, or flowers, and some outdoor plants are poisonous, too. 

If you suspect that your dog might have ingested a poisonous substance, you need to contact your vet immediately. 

Age

Puppies and senior dogs have much less tolerance for cold and stress than younger adult dogs. But a shaking puppy is usually just an excited one.

An older Yorkie shaking usually means they’re cold or tired, so warm your dog up and let it rest to see if it resolves. Age makes it harder to tolerate cold and changes in the environment. 

When to Contact a Vet About Yorkie Shivering

Usually, Yorkie shivering is a normal response to cold or excitement and nothing to worry about. Sometimes it’s a sign you should contact the vet to figure out the cause. 

My Yorkie Is Shaking and Won’t Eat

If your Yorkshire Terrier is shaking because of excitement, it might not want to eat because it’s too distracted by whatever is exciting. If it won’t eat for an extended period and shows no interest in food, you should monitor the situation carefully. 

If your dog doesn’t start eating within a few hours or misses more than one meal in a day, you should let the vet know for further advice.

Don’t wait if the lack of appetite comes with vomiting, diarrhea, or other symptoms like lethargy, whining, panting, or breathlessness. 

FAQ About Why Is My Yorkie Shaking?

These are some of the most common questions people ask about Yorkie’s shivering from stress.

How Do I Calm a Stressed, Shaking Yorkie?

If your dog is shaking because of stress, physical contact with you will often do the trick. Hold your dog, pet it, and let it snuggle as close as it wants. A short walk or other forms of exercise like playing fetch can also help relieve your dog’s stress. 

Why Doesn’t My Stressed Yorkie Want to be Held?

If the stress is extreme enough, your dog might prefer to hide away from people for a while. This reaction is self-protection, so let your dog go where it wants to feel safe until the stressful situation passes. 

So, Why Is My Yorkie Shaking?

If you’re concerned about your Yorkie shaking anytime, you can contact a vet and ask questions. Most vets are happy to set you at ease and let you know what is and isn’t normal behavior for your little Yorkie. 

The good news is that in the absence of other symptoms, Yorkshire Terrier shivering is harmless and solved by warming them up and giving them your attention. 

Your Yorkie’s shaking almost always means that your dog is cold, excited, or happy to see you. 

Recommended Gear for Yorkies

Sarah Alward | Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Sarah Alward | Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Our resident DVM helps review every article to ensure we always provide scientifically accurate, up-to-date information. She’s proud to help provide pet parents everywhere with the info they need to keep their pets safe, healthy, and comfortable.