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Why is My 2-Year-Old Border Collie-Lab Mix Shaking His Front Legs but Still Active?


Dear VetBabble,

I’ve noticed that my 2-year-old Border Collie x Labrador has been shaking his front legs quite a bit, although he still seems active, wants to play, and doesn’t seem distressed. How concerned should I be about this? Is it just a one-time thing, or should I be worried and contact my vet if it continues?

Understanding Your Dog’s Shaking

Shaking in dogs can be due to various reasons, ranging from normal behavior to a sign of an underlying health issue. It is important to carefully observe the circumstances and any accompanying symptoms to determine whether it is a cause for concern or just a temporary occurrence. If your dog is showing no signs of discomfort or distress and continues to be active, playful, and engaging, chances are it might just be a normal behavior or an isolated event. But if the leg shaking persists or becomes more frequent, it is always a good idea to contact your vet and have them thoroughly examine your dog to rule out any medical concerns.

Common Reasons for Leg Shaking in Dogs

Here are a few general reasons that your dog may be shaking its legs:

  1. Muscle fatigue or overexertion: Just like humans, dogs can experience muscle fatigue or after-effects of vigorous exercise, particularly in young and active breeds. Rest and appropriate exercise should help alleviate the issue.
  2. Injury or pain: A dog may shake its leg when it is experiencing pain or discomfort due to an injury, an inflamed muscle or joint, or other health concerns. In such cases, it is essential to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. For help determining the cause of your dog’s discomfort, check out Why Is My Dog Limping? When to Worry and What to Do.
  3. Anxiety or stress: Dogs can manifest anxiety or stress by shaking their legs or exhibiting some other similar behavior. Identifying and addressing the underlying causes of anxiety in your dog can help solve this issue.
  4. Parasites: Fleas, ticks, or mites may cause dogs to shake their legs due to the itching or irritation that these pests may cause. Regular grooming, treatments, and preventive measures can help keep your dog free from parasites.
  5. Gastrointestinal issues: In some cases, dogs may shake their legs to alleviate discomfort from a stomach ache or other gastrointestinal upset. If your dog is also experiencing diarrhea, consult Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea? for more information.

When to Contact Your Vet

It is always a good idea to monitor your dog’s health and behavior closely, especially if you notice any sudden or unusual changes. Be sure to contact your veterinarian if:

  1. Your dog’s leg shaking is accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, limping, or loss of appetite. For more details on identifying tiredness or lethargy, read Is My Puppy Tired or Lethargic?.
  2. The shaking becomes more frequent, worsens over time, or appears to cause distress to your dog.
  3. Your dog exhibits any signs of pain, discomfort, or illness.

In conclusion, while occasional leg shaking in an otherwise healthy and active dog may not be a cause for alarm, it is crucial to keep a close eye on our canines and seek veterinary advice whenever necessary. And as a fun bonus, once you better understand your dog’s leg shaking, why not teach them a new trick? Visit How do I Teach My Dog to Shake? for some guidance.

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