Many people think that Whippets are scaredy cats… if that’s possible. Perhaps it’s due to their adorable expressions that some people think seem timid. More likely is it’s due to Whippets tendency to shake and tremble.
So why do Whippets shake and shiver? Are Whippets easily scared? Do they need more emotional support than other dog breeds?
Or are there other reasons why Whippets shake?
Table of Contents
- Anxiety (What Makes Whippets Anxious)
- Excitement (What Makes Whippets Excited)
- Biological Reasons Why Whippets Might Shake
- What To Do If You’re Concerned About Your Whippet Shaking
- Summary – Why Do Whippets Shake?
Whippets Are Sighthounds… And Sighthounds Are Primed for Action!
Although I don’t believe that Whippets are scaredy cats, I do feel that they are quite highly strung.
Whippets are sighthounds and as a consequence they’re often alert to the possibility that something moving might deserve their attention!
Sighthounds have the ability to identify and react very quickly to something that catches their attention. Perhaps this natural ability means their twitch muscles have to be ready to launch them into sprint mode as quickly as possible?
Consequently, trembling and shaking is probably a natural way that Whippets warm up their muscles prior to the explosive acceleration and speed they require for a chase!
Whippets Shake Because of Cold Temperatures
Whippets are very slight dogs. Some people have said to me that my Whippet Misty looks undernourished… indeed that’s the view a lot of people have about Whippets.
However, a healthy weight for Whippets should mean that you can see a rib or two.
Healthy Whippets do not have the fat on their bodies that some other breeds have by nature. This layer of fat can provide a degree of insulation in colder temperatures and it’s something that Whippets can’t rely on to stay warm.
Neither do Whippets have thick coats. Whippets are single coated and they have short fur.
The lack of subcutaneous fat combined with a short, single coat means Whippets probably feel the cold more than many other breeds. Hence, a Whippet will shake even in temperatures many dogs would feel fine with.
Shaking and shivering is a natural response to cold temperatures… it’s one way out bodies try to generate heat. Whippets are no different from us in this respect… though they’ll likely start shaking when the temperature drops before we do, given their lack of protection against cold.
In colder times, makes sure your Whippet is properly dressed when you take it outside. An insulated winter coat or a cosy Whippet sweater will help your little friend stay warm and prevent them from shaking.
Whippets Shake Because of Anxiety or Fear
Like any dog breed, Whippets will shake if they are anxious or frightened. Having recently taken my Whippet Misty to see a veterinarian, I can attest to this.
Misty is terrified of vets. The problem is she’s had several visits to our veterinary surgery for unpleasant reasons and I suspect she remembers:
- A bad skin tear.
- Toe amputation due to an infection.
Whenever we visit our vet, Misty is a bag of nerves: she shakes and tucks her tail firmly between her legs!
As soon as we leave the vet, she stops shaking almost immediately.
Whippets Shake Because of Excitement
If your Whippets shakes it doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. Whippets are generally an extremely happy breed, given to excitement and exuberance when at play or when they determine something enjoyable is on the horizon.
In the same way, Whippets can get highly excited on seeing family members when they return home.
Some dog breeds can do a little “pee pee” when they get excited in this way… Whippets often shake and tremble!
Biological Reasons Why Whippets Might Shake
There may be a sound biological or medical reason why your Whippet is shaking.
If a dog is experiencing pain it can start trembling. It may be that without being able to understand pain in the way we humans do, pain makes it fearful and anxious.
However, it may also be that trembling is a dog’s way to “manage” pain. There is a theory that shaking is an automatic reaction that somehow decreases the focus on pain, almost as a distraction.
If a dog suffers from low blood sugar, it’s likely to shake. So if your Whippet skips meals (unlikely!) or it has a medical condition such as diabetes, it’s possible that it will experience shaking as a consequence.
A deficiency of calcium is another reason why your Whippet might shake. Since it’s an important mineral for muscular activity, a deficiency of calcium can result in erratic muscle contractions and shaking.
If your Whippet has recently given birth, it’s possible that feeding her litter might deplete her calcium.
What To Do If You’re Concerned About Your Whippet Shaking
If you’re worried about your Whippet shaking and the potential problem it might indicate, here are some things to consider:
- Is it cold?
If your Whippet is shaking because it’s cold, you can make it more comfortable simply by keeping it warm.
If you’re at home and your Whippet is trembling, give it a warm blanket to cuddle up with.
Whippets need exercise even when it’s cold outside. Invest in warm Whippet sweaters or coats so that when the temperature plummets, you can still take your Whippet out for walkies without them shaking throughout.
- Can you avoid stressful situations?
If you know your Whippet suffers from anxiety or fear in certain situations and they’re not situations they need to overcome, don’t try to get them used to them. As long as that situation does not inhibit your lives, then why out your Whippet through unnecessary stress?
Of course, stressful situations like veterinary visits can’t be avoided.
If your Whippet shakes often and you believe it is exceptionally fearful to the point it inhibits your lives, it might be worth speaking with your vet or an animal behavioural specialist to try to find out why.
- Is there a medical problem?
Conditions such as low blood sugar and low calcium are potentially dangerous. So if your Whippet shakes for prolonged periods without apparent reason, you should visit a veterinary surgery as soon as possible.
Summary – Why Do Whippets Shake?
Whippets shake for a variety of reasons. As with lots of dog breeds, Whippets shake through fear / anxiety, excitement and cold.
However, shaking might also indicate a medical problem. If you have any concerns as to why your Whippet is shaking, visit a veterinary professional at the earliest convenience.
Are you concerned about why your Whippet shakes? Leave a comment / question at the bottom of this page to let me know.
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