My dog is staring at nothing and shaking; Why?

My Dog Is Staring At Nothing And Shaking; Why? Reasons + Tips

As a dog owner, I discover something new daily regarding dog parenting, which makes me realize how challenging and responsible raising a pet dog is. Whether you are a new dog parent or a well-experienced one, you usually will not find it hard to bond with your dog; however, at some points, you will face certain obstacles raising them.

Especially if you have limited experience raising dogs, the slightest unusual behavior of your dog will make you question if everything is alright with your canine. I recently faced a similar encounter with my pet dog, he is staring at nothing and shaking for a while, and it confused me as I didn’t have a clear understanding of the situation.

Luckily, with professional help, I could not only address this issue but also could learn important facts regarding this problem. Moreover, this condition could happen in many dogs, which confuses many dog owners.

Why are dogs staring at nothing and shaking? There are several reasons for dogs to shake, staring at nothing. Sometimes the reason behind it could be critical, but it could also be harmless. So if your dog is shaking or shivering without specifically staring at anything, it could be due to pain, illnesses, over-excitement, or old age.

If your dog is experiencing a health condition such as distemper, hypoglycemia, or hypoadrenocorticism, shaking could easily occur. Typical health conditions such as nausea or upset stomach could also be a reason for this. In some cases, aging or excitement can also lead a dog to shake. 

As mentioned earlier, any dog owner would get panicked if their pet dog started acting strange. Shaking, trembling, and shivering is not usual in their daily behavior.

You cannot precisely say that they shake due to a severe medical issue; sometimes, it could be a minor issue; however, if you notice your dog shaking, or staring nowhere, do not neglect it.

Observe and try to determine the cause and take action before it’s too late. 

Why is my dog staring at nothing and shaking?

When I noticed my dog was staring at nothing and shaking, it worried me because I wasn’t sure what was going on with my pet.

My first prediction was that my dog was sick because he had also lost his appetite. I took the dog to a vet as soon as I noticed these signs, and luckily it was nothing severe; he just had an upset stomach.

The medication helped my dog to get better soon. However, I learned that an upset stomach does not solely cause this behavior; plenty of other things could also make your dog tremble. So let’s have a look at them. 

  • Health issues 

Health issues are a common concern that makes dogs shake, staring at nothing. When we say health issues, this covers a broad area. As mentioned earlier, dogs could tremble if they eat something wrong and get a sour stomach or nausea.

Sometimes they might be experiencing something severe, for instance, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), adrenocortical hormone insufficiency (hypoadrenocorticism), inflammatory brain disease, seizure disorders, or generalized tremor syndrome.

These illnesses have other symptoms apart from shaking. Overall observe whether your dog is vomiting, lethargic, drinking less water, significantly decreasing their appetite, and losing weight.

If you see these signs along with shaking, the dog might be experiencing a severe health concern. So the smartest thing is to take the dog to a vet and get professional help to find out the exact issue. 

Shaking in dogs is not only caused by physical illnesses; it may be caused by a mental condition such as stress or anxiety.

How dogs respond to mental health issues might differ from one dog to the other. Nevertheless, many tend to shake to express their stressful emotions. 

  • Old age 

The bodies of dogs, just like any other living being, change as they grow old. Dogs age differently than humans, so no matter how healthy a dog is, their usual life expectancy is around 10-12 years old.

Therefore dogs above the age of 8 are usually considered senior dogs; by this time, you might see clear changes in their bodies and behavior. The shaking condition in dogs is typically known as tremors which can be seen in many senior dogs.

As they age, their muscles, joints, and cartilage become weak, and they could develop joint issues such as canine arthritis, which lead them to shake.

Moreover, aged dogs could be highly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, so if the temperature is too cold, they shake without staring at anything specific. 

  • Excitement 

Do all dogs shake when they are excited? The answer would be no. The way dogs express their emotions is different. Still, they usually run around and wag their tails when they are excited.

However, when some dogs are excited, they can tremble, which is somewhat common among puppies.

When dogs are overwhelmed with feelings shaking could be one of the ways they respond to it. 

Why is my dog acting like he is seeing things?

Health professionals explain that hallucination is a perception of a nonexisting object or an event. Simply put, a condition where we sense things that are not happening or existing in real-time.

Sometimes you might notice that your dog acts like they see something that doesn’t exist in reality; does that mean dogs hallucinate? Well, there are certain times when dogs hallucinate, especially if they are experiencing a health concern.

However, remember that sometimes a dog may act that way not because they hallucinate but because they sense a threat or danger. Let’s further look at these reasons.

Health conditions, specifically neurological disorders, have the potency to make dogs act like they see something. Illnesses such as epilepsy and seizures could easily make dogs behave in a paranoid way.

Be attentive and see if you notice whether the dog indicates other signs accompanying the hallucination, such as collapsing, stiffening, foaming at the mouth, or salivation. If you spot them, there is a high chance that your dog is experiencing a neurological issue.

What if the dog doesn’t show any other signs but only acts like they see things suddenly? If this frantic behavior only occurred once and if it goes away after a bit of time, that could be because the dog sensed something dangerous or strange.

You might already know that dogs have extremely powerful senses and are usually aware of things happening around them. If they hear a strange sound or smell something unusual, they could act as if they are hallucinating. 

Why is my dog staring at the ceiling and shaking?

Sometimes dogs stare at nothing and shake, and as mentioned previously, that could be due to a health issue, old age, or even over-excitement.

In some cases, dogs shake while staring somewhere to make this clearer as they see something scary. What could be the reason for this? 

As dogs have strong senses, they can hear and sniff things better. If they sense an animal is on the side walls or the ceiling, they’ll keep staring at it.

Sometimes if they get scared from it or feel strange, they’ll also shake. This condition is not necessarily a health issue; it is only a physical response to a strange occurrence; therefore, it will go away after a while, but if the dog keeps repeating this behavior, the reason could be something else.

Seizures could also make dogs react this way. How seizures affect dogs is different; some can be minor while others are more severe. Earlier, we discussed that when dogs are experiencing seizures, they shake without staring anywhere.

Still, sometimes they stare too, so if this unusual behavior happens frequently, it is advisable to take them to a vet and find the correct diagnosis. 

Another possibility is phobias. Phobias and fears are subjective, meaning something that makes one scared or uncomfortable will not make others feel that way, and vice versa.

Some dogs could get anxious due to something they see on the ceiling, for instance, a working ceiling fan. When the blades spin around fast, it could make some dogs uncomfortable, so they’ll keep staring at it and tremble if it bothers them.

Remember, this will not happen to all dogs; some dogs could react that way while others don’t. 

Final thoughts 

Here we have come to the end of this article. When you raise a dog, you have to face different challenges throughout your dog parenting journey.

The best advice I can give is that if you take the correct action at the proper time without panicking, you can overcome any issue and ensure your pet dog stays happy and healthy.

Through this article, we looked at the reasons why dogs shake or tremble. This can result from different reasons, including sickness, aging, or excitement.

However, if you feel things are wrong, take your dog to a vet as soon as possible. Hope you find this article helpful.

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts about your favorite dog breed. Cheers


  • Dominic Parker

    Dominic P. is a dog behavioral researcher who graduated from the University of Surrey and holds BVMsi (Hons) in Veterinary Medicine and Science. He has been around dogs since childhood and has unconditional love for dogs. It makes him become a researcher instead of practicing as a veterinarian. Dominic enjoys his work and likes to share his findings with dog parents to give them a better understanding of dogs’ behaviors.

    [email protected]

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