Dog Shaking When Breathing In While Sleeping – Reasons

What exactly does it mean when a dog is shaking when breathing in while sleeping?

Is it dangerous?

Actually, it is a common phenomenon in dogs!

Dog Shaking When Breathing In While Sleeping Causes

There are several reasons dogs shake when breathing in while they sleep.

Assessing and observing the other symptoms your pup is displaying will help better determine the severity of the situation.

Causes Of Dog Shaking When Breathing In While Sleeping

1. Allergy

An allergy is the most common reason your dog shakes when breathing in while sleeping.

Dust mites, pollen, mold spores, animal dander, and food allergies can cause allergies.

Allergens may enter through the nose or eyes into the nasal passages and cause sneezing, coughing, itching, watery eyes, runny nose, and swollen lips.

2. Dog Dreams

Another possible reason for your dog’s behavior could be that he has been dreaming.

Puppies and young dogs tend to have more vivid dreams than adult dogs.

Dogs go through different sleep phases: REM (Rapid Eye Movement), NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement), and deep sleep.

The brain is active during the REM phase, and the body is completely relaxed.

It is where most of your dog’s dreams take place.

Dogs do not dream about the same things that humans do.

Instead, they dream about hunting, chasing, playing with friends, and running around.

Also, shaking or trembling is most common among pups because they sleep more than adult dogs.

Our dogs’ sleep must be taken seriously, especially for puppies because they should get enough sleep for their growth and health.

Lack of sleep can negatively affect well-being, learning, and the immune system.

3. Dental Problems

If your dog has dental issues, he might start shaking when sleeping.

Dental problems could be caused by tooth decay or inflammation and infection of gums.

The pain becomes unbearable, and you will see your dog shaking to calm itself.

If the condition is left untreated, it can spread all over the body, causing severe health complications.

4. Cold Weather

In cold weather, your dog may feel uncomfortable while sleeping.

It may be because the air temperature is too low for a dog to tolerate.

The dog may also begin to shiver and shake due to its cold environment.

Cold mainly affects dogs with thin fur so be especially cautious if it’s humid or rainy which makes dogs feel colder.

It is advisable to keep your dog warm at night.

The best way to do so is by using a heated blanket or bedding, heating pad, or electric blanket.

If your dog’s shaking doesn’t stop once you’ve warmed her up, call your veterinarian immediately to ensure there’s nothing else.

5. Stress

When your dog is stressed out, he may start shaking when sleeping.

Stress can be caused by many factors, including anxiety, fear, pain, illness, hunger, loneliness, or separation from family members.

Make sure that you know what stressors are affecting your dog.

Once you understand how your dog feels, you will provide him with the proper care and attention needed to help relieve his stress.

Dog Shaking When Breathing In While Sleeping

6. Pain

Your dog may shake when breathing in if he is experiencing some pain.

Pain can be physical, emotional, or mental.

If your dog has an injury or illness, he may experience discomfort and pain.

Identifying the source of your dog’s pain and treating it accordingly is crucial.

For instance, if your dog is injured, he needs immediate medical attention.

In addition, if your dog is feeling anxious or depressed, he needs professional help.

7. Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)

It is also known as white dogs’ syndrome because it is common in miniature white breeds, especially chihuahuas and dachshunds.

Shaking or tremoring, seizures, and muscle cramps characterize GTS.

While the causes of GTS are unknown, many theories suggest that the immune system plays a role.

Dogs diagnosed with GTS often have other conditions, such as allergies, ear infections, and skin disorders.

Steroid medications like prednisone can sometimes help reduce symptoms.

However, they don’t cure the problem.

Your vet can prescribe anti-seizure medication to control seizures and muscle relaxants to ease the tremors.

8. Puppy Shakes

Most puppies shake when breathing because they are still developing their nervous system.

Puppies are born without fully developed brains and spinal cords.

They need time to create these systems before moving around and interacting with their surroundings.

During this period, puppies shake to test themselves and explore their new world.

The good news is that most puppies outgrow this behavior.

By about six months old, most puppies have built healthy brain and spinal cord connections to no longer shake when breathing in.

9. Idiopathic shaking

It means “of unknown cause.”

Idiopathic can refer to a condition with no known reason for a dog shaking when breathing while sleeping.

The term can be associated with diseases, injuries, or illnesses that vets cannot be identified.

This kind of shaking can also occur after a traumatic event.

10. Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the possible reasons dogs shake when breathing in during a nap or sleep.

It is part of life, but excessive anxiety can lead to shaking.

When dogs feel anxious, they try to calm down by moving around, licking, panting, yawning, and scratching.

These behaviors are all-natural ways to release stress.

If you notice your dog is constantly trying to relieve its anxiety through these actions, there could be a problem.

11. Psychological Reasons

Dogs may shake when breathing while sleeping due to psychological reasons.

Some people believe dogs shake when breathing in when asleep to communicate with them.

Others think that it is a way for dogs to show affection toward their owners.

Whatever the case, taking your dog’s behavior seriously is best.

Consult your vet if you think your dog might be communicating with you through his shaking.

The vet can determine whether your dog has any underlying health issues causing him to shake.

12. Old Age

Aging does so many changes in someone’s life, including your dog.

What used to be a peaceful sleep may become troubled because of old age.

If you observe that your old dog is shaking when breathing in while sleeping, it could be because it feels cold or simply in pain.

Especially when your dog is already old, you should pay close attention to the changes in its routines and sleeping habits.

When something is odd or off, consult your vet immediately.

13. Seizures

Like humans, dogs can also have seizures, especially when it has problems in its brain.

So if you notice that your dog is shaking or has muscle twitching while breathing in its sleep, it could be experiencing seizures.

Other symptoms accompanying seizures include drooling, foaming at the mouth, and losing consciousness entirely.

14. Distemper

Distemper is a viral infection common in unvaccinated puppies and adolescent dogs.

If you notice your dog shaking, it could be because it caught the virus, commonly accompanied by fever, eye and nose discharges, and cough.

And if these symptoms are present, seek medical attention right away.

Other Causes

If none of the above causes apply to your dog, there might be other reasons why.

You should consult a veterinarian immediately if your dog exhibits signs of respiratory distress.

The vet can perform tests to rule out other possible causes of your dog shaking when breathing in while sleeping, including heart disease, lung problems, kidney failure, liver disease, and cancer.

If your dog exhibits signs of respiratory distress, contact your vet immediately.

Don’t wait until your dog stops breathing.


A dog shaking when breathing is not uncommon behavior among dogs.

It commonly occurs during the first few weeks of life.

Several different things can cause it, but it is essential to rule out all potential causes before assuming that your dog has shaken when breathing in while sleeping because he loves you.