Bath times are a necessity when you have dogs.
And it’s great to have a nice-smelling pooch all the time.
But what if your dog shakes and shivers after you give them a bath?
I bet you wonder why they do this.
Keep reading and discover:
- 15 reasons why your dog shivers after a bath.
- The easiest way to acclimate dogs to their bath time.
- 5 essential tips to stop your pooch from shivering after one.
- What to avoid when using flea shampoos to prevent your dog from shivering after a bath.
- And many, many more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog shiver after a bath?
- 15 reasons why dogs shiver after a bath
- #1: “Brrr it’s cold, hooman!”
- #2: They need to go potty
- #3: Your pooch doesn’t like baths
- #4: They’re scared
- #5: Anxiety
- #6: They’re in pain
- #7: Nausea
- #8: Shampoo poisoning
- #9: Excitement
- #10: Coordination-related conditions
- #11: Epilepsy
- #12: Addison’s disease
- #13: Your dog’s getting older
- #14: Distemper
- #15: Generalised tremor syndrome (GTS)
- How do I get my dog to stop shivering after a bath? 5 tips
Why does my dog shiver after a bath?
Your dog shivers after a bath because they’re cold. They may also be stressed, or excited. Medical conditions such as epilepsy, Addison’s disease, CCD, distemper, or GTS, could cause your dog to shiver. Pain and nausea are possible reasons. And it could also be a reaction to poisonous substances.
15 reasons why dogs shiver after a bath
#1: “Brrr it’s cold, hooman!”
This is the main reason why dogs shiver after a dip.
They’re bothered by the cold.
Dogs have higher body temperatures than us. This means that they also have a higher threshold for cold resistance.
But that changes when they’ve had a bath.
And it all has to do with their fur.
It can keep their body heat in. And keep your pooch toasty warm.
But it will also hold water.
Which means that your dog’s body temperature goes down. If they aren’t dried down immediately.
This is why dogs will shake after a bath. And spray everything with water.
Fun fact: Dogs can get most of the water out of their fur with just one shake.
He says that shaking takes away the possibility of hypothermia.
Their bodies will cool down too much if your dog waits for their fur to dry without shaking.
But it doesn’t mean that their fur is 100% dry.
Which is why they shiver. It is a way to keep their temperature up.
#2: They need to go potty
Did you take your dog outside before their bath?
Sometimes dogs shake because they need to do their business.
A bath can be a stressful time for your pooch.
And they can lose control of their bowels.
But some will try to hold it in that they’re shaking from the effort.
Holding it in can be dangerous for your puppy.
“How does it affect my dog?”
Holding it in puts your dog at risk of UTIs.
The bacteria from their urine will get stuck inside causing infections.
You also risk constipation in your doggo. If they hold it in.
The longer their poop stays inside their colon, the more it hardens.
Which makes it more difficult for them to poop.
#3: Your pooch doesn’t like baths
Does your dog shiver before and after a bath?
This is a pretty clear indication that it isn’t their cup of tea.
The cause could be that they’re not used to baths.
Dogs can develop phobias or fears towards bath time. If they aren’t introduced in the right way.
Wanna learn how to help dogs get used to it?
Keep reading for easy tips on how to do this. 🙂
#4: They’re scared
It’s pretty overwhelming for dogs when they’re covered in water.
And sometimes, they have traumatic experiences with bathing.
When you try to get them into a tub, they start to shake.
For other dogs, even the mention of the word “Bath” is enough to let them tremble.
The AKC says that fearful dogs have the following signs:
Fear is a natural response to the unfamiliar or intimidating.
But it can develop into phobias. Especially if the dog doesn’t have a smooth introduction to new experiences.
Phobias are persistent fears that develop due to a traumatic experience. Or several of those over time.
Dogs can develop phobias to:
- Certain situations.
Bath time is a combination of sound and situational phobia. The water, bathing place, or hairdryer are possible triggers for your pooch.
And with fear or phobias, dogs experience anxiety.
This is the response dogs have when they expect something they don’t like is going to happen.
“Why does my dog get anxious?”
These are the common causes of anxiety:
- Medical issues.
- Isolation distress.
- Separation anxiety.
- Age-related issues.
Take, for example, fear of storms.
Dogs can sense changes in air pressure and the ozone level. Their sensitive ears pick up the rumbles of thunder. Or the sound of coming rain.
These triggers activate their fear. And the anticipation of the storm causes them to display the following signs:
- Escape behaviors.
Shivering or trembling is a sign of mild anxiety. So look out if your dog displays the other signs.
#6: They’re in pain
Dogs don’t always show pain in an obvious manner.
This is a trait from their wild ancestors. From a time when showing injury in any way means that you’re easy prey for other predators.
Our dogs can’t speak to us and tell us they’re in pain. So it’s up to us to look out for the signs:
- Hunched posture.
- Licking a certain body part.
If your normally relaxed dog is acting scared, they might be in pain.
Warning: Be careful with dogs who display the signs. Dogs in pain can react in aggressive ways. You risk getting bitten.
Observe your dog for the signs above. They might be trying to tell you that something’s wrong.
And don’t self-medicate your dog. Take them to the vet for a check-up.
The most common cause of nausea is digestive and nervous system issues.
Shivering is one of its signs, along with:
- Frequent swallowing.
It can happen because of:
- Intestinal parasites.
- Bacterial infections.
“What do I do if my dog has nausea?”
You need to restrict food 12-24 hours after the last episode, says PetMeds.
This allows your dog’s throat to relax, and it will help rule out causes.
If your dog vomits because of movement during travel, feed them at least 3 hours before the trip.
Warning: Take your dog to the vet if they show signs of nausea for more than 24 hours. Frequent vomiting can cause dehydration. And it signals severe medical conditions.
Take, for example, Hela’s story.
Bacterial infections from rainwater
My friend’s dog was about 3 months old when this happened.
She went on a walk with her dog parent. The morning after a night of heavy rain.
The ground was still wet.
And when Hela came back inside, she started to groom herself.
That night, Hela kept vomiting and vomiting.
It went on for a day.
And when my friend took her to the vet, tests found a bacterial infection.
It wasn’t the parvovirus, but it had the same symptoms.
She had to go through several rounds of IV fluids. Because of the dehydration caused by the vomiting.
Hela took almost 3 weeks to recover.
Today she’s a very energetic dog. It’s hard to believe there was a time when she was so sick. That she barely even moved.
#8: Shampoo poisoning
Does your pooch lick at the shampoo suds at bath time?
This can be a dangerous habit. Especially if you’re using flea shampoos on them. Or other topical pest control products.
Most of these contain pyrethrin and/or organophosphates. Which are very toxic to dogs.
The products are effective if used in the proper way.
If not, MedVet tells us that these will happen to your dog:
- Falling over.
- Small pupils.
- Muscle tremors.
- Excessive drooling.
- Breathing difficulties.
The signs can appear 1 to 12 hours after application.
It’s recommended to wash your dog in dish soap. And dry them thoroughly. Before you take them to the vet.
Warning: Always follow instructions when using flea control products. Consult with your vet. And ensure that what you’re using suits your dog’s age, weight, and breed.
On a lighter note, the shivering could be the result of your dog’s excitement.
It could mean that they see bath time as a personal experience. And they’re looking forward to how it ends.
My friend’s dog, Snow, loves the hairdryer. She tolerates bath time. As a Husky, she’ll be dramatic sometimes.
But when it’s time for drying, she’ll sit down on her towel. And shiver with excitement.
When her dog dad takes a long time to prepare, she’d complain in the usual Husky way.
As if to say,
“Hooman, where is da thing that blows hot air? I needs it now!”
You will often see your dog shiver with excitement when you arrive from work. Or when they see you prepare their food.
According to the PDSA, excited dogs also display other signs such as:
- Floppy ears.
- Relaxed body.
- High and waggy tail.
These are developmental issues that appear in puppies. The shivering is one sign of these conditions.
This condition affects the growth of the cerebellum. Which is the brain region that coordinates voluntary movements.
PetMD states that affected pups will display these signs:
- Limb tremors.
- Head bobbing.
- Clumsy, wide-based stance.
- Can’t tell distance or equilibrium.
It’s a hereditary disease that often appears in:
- Bull Terriers.
- Chow Chows.
- Boston Terriers.
According to Carolina Vets, it is not a degenerative disease. Affected dogs will have poor coordination. But they will still be able to live full and happy lives.
And most puppies will often learn how to manage their deficiencies.
This condition affects the nerves in your dog’s body. It means a myelin deficiency.
The substance covers the axons. Which are nerve cell parts that handle the transfer of impulses to other nerve cells.
It’s a congenital disease. And the Merck Vet Manual states that it appears in pups 10-12 days old.
Some dog breeds are more likely to have it than others:
- Chow Chows.
- Bernese Mountain Dogs.
- Welsh Springer Spaniels.
The signs include tremors that disappear when relaxed. And worsen when excited.
Tremor sites are:
The affected dog will also have difficulty standing and moving.
In most dogs, the signs will disappear in the first year of their life.
But in others, it is so severe that euthanasia is the only option.
Warning: Vets tell dog parents not to breed dogs affected with hypomyelination. This is a congenital disease that can pass on to their puppies.
VCA defines epilepsy as a disorder. In which the brain looks normal but functions abnormally.
Dogs will have sudden seizures which manifest as:
On average, seizures last about 30 to 90 seconds. There is often no way of knowing when one will start.
And dogs will likely be on anti-seizure medications for the rest of their life.
The impact of epileptic dogs
Taking care of epileptic dogs isn’t easy. It has a great impact on the dog parents, a study finds.
Dog parents will experience distress when their dogs have seizures. One said:
“I was distraught, I didn’t want to leave him at all…”
Their quality of life also changed because of the effort and commitment needed.
The study also discussed social impacts. For example, extended family members and friends often didn’t understand the owner’s commitments.
Which led to dog parents feeling alone. So they would often reach out for support in online groups. Looking for others in the same situation.
But, most of the 21 dog parents in the study admit that the dog-owner bond is stronger than before.
#12: Addison’s disease
This affects the steroid production of the adrenal glands. As a result, the dog’s body doesn’t supply enough aldosterone and cortisol.
The AKC states that the absence of these steroids will have serious consequences that can result in death.
There are many possible causes for this disease:
- Autoimmune process.
- Destruction of the adrenal gland.
“What are the symptoms for Addison’s?”
The Blue Pearl Vet Hospital tells us that dogs can exhibit symptoms ranging from common to rare.
- Weight loss.
- Loss of apetite.
- Extreme lethargy.
- Muscle weakness.
- Sudden collapses.
- Intermittent weakness.
- Developing a shock-like condition.
But to determine if a dog has the disease or not, vets have to do some tests.
Lab tests will show low blood sodium and high blood potassium. And less cortisol levels result in the absence of a stress leukogram.
In short, your pooch doesn’t have any hormones that regulate the stress they feel.
Then, your dog has to get an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) challenge. Which is a specific test to confirm the presence of Addison’s disease.
“What’s the treatment for this disease?”
WSU Vet Hospital informs us that there are two stages of treatment. These are: in-hospital and long-term.
The first step is hospitalization. To lessen the effects of high blood potassium on the heart.
Next, long-term treatment requires hormone shots (25 days) or pills (every day).
Affected dogs need to stay away from stressful situations. Because their body cannot produce more cortisol.
Note: With the right treatment plans dogs with Addison’s disease can live happy and full lives.
#13: Your dog’s getting older
Do you have a senior dog?
If so, the shivers after their bath may be part of canine cognitive dysfunction or CCD.
It’s also known as doggy dementia. It affects the neurological functions of senior dogs.
And it will often result in confusion and anxiety for your pooch.
Vets use the DISHA acronym to diagnose it:
The pooch will often forget how to get to certain places. For example, they’ll forget that there’s no door on this side of the room. And bang their head on the wall.
They’ll also forget how to navigate certain stuff.
Dogs who are normally happy to see other people might not like it anymore.
Meeting new people will confuse them. And they might even react in aggressive ways.
Sleep-Wake cycle changes
The disorientation will change the way dogs sleep. Often they’ll pace around at night and sleep in the morning.
All the training and learning the dog did before goes out the window. They will no longer recognize or obey commands.
And will even forget that they’re not supposed to poop or pee inside.
Activity level changes
Active dogs might become lethargic. And just want to lay down. Even their favorite toy or person will not interest them anymore.
This study finds that there are several factors that will mean higher chances of CCD. Such as low activity levels. Or a history of neurological, eye, or ear disorders.
And with every additional year, older dogs increase the odds of CCD by 52%.
This is a viral disease that affects the following systems in dogs:
Dogs of all ages can contract it through airborne exposure. Or contact with contaminated surfaces.
Our pooches can also get it from contact with wild animals that carry the disease.
“What are the symptoms of distemper?”
According to the AVMA, dogs will first have a watery/pus-like eye discharge.
Then these will follow:
- Nasal discharge.
- Reduced appetite.
When it affects the nervous system, the dog will display:
- Head tilt.
- Muscle twitches.
- Circling behavior.
- Jaw chewing movements.
“How do vets confirm if it’s distemper?”
Examination and lab tests will be the only things that will determine if a dog has the disease.
There’s no cure for distemper. And many cases often result in death.
At most, dog parents can only give their pooch supportive care. And treatments to prevent secondary infections.
Note: Vaccines prevent many diseases and viruses. Be up to date on your dog’s vaccine shots.
#15: Generalised tremor syndrome (GTS)
This is a condition that causes a dog’s whole body to shake.
It’s mostly observed in white-coated small dogs such as:
- West Highland Terrier.
Which is the reason for its nickname: little white shaker syndrome.
It’s not an untreatable condition. Most affected dogs will recover. And have full and happy lives.
But vets need to do other tests to confirm. As it can look like the shaking from hypothermia. Or anxiety.
There may also be underlying medical conditions that cause the shaking.
“How does treatment for GTS go?”
According to PetMD, the primary treatment is giving steroids such as prednisone.
Within 1 to 2 weeks, symptoms will disappear in most cases. And the vet will prescribe lower and lower doses of the steroid.
Some dogs will completely heal. While others will need to use the low steroid dose for maintenance.
How do I get my dog to stop shivering after a bath? 5 tips
#1: Use warm water
Dog fur can hold a lot of water. And giving cold baths, traps all that water near your dog’s skin.
They will have a hard time regulating their internal temperature. Which is why they shiver.
It’s also one way of helping your dog love their bath.
#2: Use a hairdryer
A towel is great for taking off excess water from your dog’s fur. But it doesn’t completely dry it.
Using a hairdryer or a grooming blow-dryer will slick off the remaining water. Leaving you with a dry pooch.
It also prevents skin diseases. Because bacteria won’t have warm wet places to thrive in.
You can also keep the musty dog smell away with a hairdryer.
Pro tip: Spray your dog with a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water before blow-drying. You’ll have a nice smelling pooch for longer.
#3: Lick mats
These are great toys to distract your pooch. Or to help them make positive associations with bath time.
You can put yummy treats on it such as:
- Peanut butter.
- Cream cheese.
Buy the lick mats with suction cups. So you can stick it on your bathroom wall. And let your pooch go at it while bathing them.
#4: Acclimate your pooch
Most phobias and fears of bath time often happen because the dogs didn’t have a good introduction to bath time.
Remember that baths can become overwhelming experiences. Especially for young pups.
Let them get used to the sensations and the sounds of bath time. It might take a while but it will help your dog love being in the water.
Watch this video for tips and tricks when acclimating your pooch:
#5: Have everything ready
Prepare everything in advance so your dog doesn’t have to stay for long in the water.
This is especially useful with dogs who have anxiety around bath time.
You can put their stuff in an easy-to-carry basket. Or if you’re using a tub, set all their bath stuff near it.