Why do Chihuahuas shake? This is one of the first things that many people notice about these dogs and regularly comment about in breed discussions.
Although a shaky Chihuahua might seem somewhat amusing, there are reasons these dogs shake, some of which require attention.
Understanding why your dog is shaking or shivering is necessary, so you know what your dog needs.
Read on to learn more about some of the reasons why your Chihuahua might shake.
When you read about these reasons for the dog’s shaking, you will know how to address the issues behind this behavior.
Is Your Chihuahua Cold?
Being cold is one of the most common reasons for Chihuahuas to shake.
As we know, a Chi is a small dog breed. Their small size, coupled with short coats, make them less able to resist the cold than many other breeds.
Chihuahua shivering or shaking are methods that these dogs use to warm themselves up when they are cold.
Giving your Chihuahua a coat or shirt to wear during cooler or cold weather can keep your dog more comfortable.
You ought to make sure any clothing you get for your dog fits appropriately. Keeping your dog’s level of comfort is just as important as keeping him or her warm.
Make sure a Chihuahua always has access to a bed that feels warm and cozy.
Cushion or pillow-like beds that use fleecy material are favorites with small dogs, particularly a breed like Chis.
You might even consider tent-style beds that give your dog a “hiding place” when something causes stress, keeping them warm and calm.
Always check the bed after your dog has been using it and see whether it is holding heat.
Minimize your Chihuahua’s access to the outdoors during periods of cold weather.
Dog booties worn on your dog’s trips outside will help keep your pet from getting more chilled than is necessary.
Consider paper or pee pad-training your dog to reduce the amount of time that must be spent outside in cold weather.
Why There Might Be a Behavioral Reason for Chihuahuas Shaking
Being cold isn’t the only reason why Chihuahuas might shake.
Behavioral causes can include excitement over an owner returning home or some other stimulus, fearfulness, or, sometimes, what owners might describe as a guilty conscious on the dog’s part.
Let’s look at these behavioral reasons to learn more about how you can address these issues.
Excitement is one of the most common reasons for Chihuahuas to shake, but also the reason that should cause the least concern.
Seeing you or another family member come home, seeing another pet, or offering treats might make your dog get excited.
Shaking from excitement is nothing to worry about unless your dog gets so excited they make themselves sick or don’t calm down.
Some dogs can get so excited that they make themselves vomit. You don’t want to have to clean up a mess all the time.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to make sure your Chihuahua stays well-nourished, which is difficult if they don’t keep food down.
Another disadvantage of having your dog get too excited is that they are less likely to mind your commands.
You want to make sure dogs always listen when you tell them what to do, especially when calling them away from a dangerous situation.
Part of having a good bond with a dog includes making sure they respond when given commands.
Because Chihuahuas bond closely with their family members, they are likely to show a lot of excitement when family members return home.
However, the last thing any Chi parent wants to worry about is their dog getting out or getting underfoot when arriving with purchases.
A treat in exchange for sitting down and patiently waiting when someone comes in the house will eliminate a lot of this behavior.
This is probably easier with a more senior dog.
Other pets, especially if visiting or new to the household, can cause excessive excitement.
Since other dogs might night appreciate your Chihuahua’s overtures, you will need to rein in your pet’s excitement.
Allow other dogs or pets the time to get properly introduced to prevent problems, including fighting.
Some Chis, especially those who enjoy eating at every opportunity, might get excessively excited when you give them treats – encouraging your dog to sit and stay until given a verbal cue will help your Chihuahua stay calm.
Pets who associate good behavior with receiving goodies will be more likely to do as they are told.
Fear and Anxiety
Chihuahuas often shake when they are fearful or anxious.
Although owners often worry about whether they are to blame, in many cases, the cause has nothing to do with the owner.
Some dogs are naturally more sensitive to stress and other stimuli than others.
A reason that dogs of any breed might shake could be past abuse.
If your Chihuahua has an unknown past history, you should consider that there might be abuse in their past.
Allowing your dog time to feel safer in their home setting may help reduce how anxious they are feeling.
Sudden loud noises (thunderstorms/fireworks) can make a dog feel fearful.
One thing to remember is that dogs have very sensitive hearing and loud noises to us are often frighteningly loud to canines.
If possible, put your Chi in a quiet room with blankets to burrow under during thunderstorms or when people are shooting off fireworks.
Keeping things in your home as peaceful and quiet as possible can help your Chihuahua feel more at ease about their surroundings.
As tempted as you might be, avoid needlessly fussing over or coddling your dog when something frightens them.
Your pet needs to feel confident, and your behavior can influence their confidence level.
Try to act in a matter-of-fact way when your dog hears sounds that cause fear or distress.
If your Chihuahua is crying at night and having difficulty overcoming their fears, consider some training sessions that can help sensitize your pet to stressful situations.
Professional training can provide better results, as well as provide your dog with better socialization.
Sometimes, chihuahuas might lick a lot while experiencing anxiety.
A Guilty Conscience?
Sometimes, dogs will act nervous because they are picking up on their owner’s frustration when they misbehave.
Small dogs like Chihuahuas are particularly sensitive to their owners’ emotions, and they will respond when their negative behavior is getting a response from the owner.
Even negative attention can reward a shivering dog with a nervous temperament that thrives on getting its owner’s attention.
One of the things that anyone who shares their home with dogs needs to remember is that they are pack animals, regardless of their size.
A well-adjusted pack animal needs leadership from its owner that includes gentle but firm correction.
Your Chi will need to see calm, assertive leadership on your part to learn what is and is not acceptable behavior. This is also true for older dogs.
Learn How to Calm Your Dog
Chihuahuas may be somewhat more prone to anxiety than some other breeds.
However, there are steps you can take to calm your pet, regardless of the anxiety’s severity.
The sooner you start addressing your dog’s anxiety, the sooner your pet will be calm and well-adjusted.
Different environmental factors, including family stress, can cause anxiety for your Chi. When your dog becomes anxious, their cortisol, or stress hormone, levels can increase.
Increased cortisol can affect your pet’s immune system and leave them more vulnerable to illness.
Trembling or shaking is one of the signs that a Chihuahua might be experiencing anxiety issues.
If your dog shows a lot of stress or fear on a regular basis, e.g. during regular car rides, you might want to make sure your vet has ruled out medical causes.
If their distress is environmental, you can take a few steps to make things less stressful.
Regular backyard play and walks can help keep Chihuahuas mentally balanced.
Interactive toys and treat-hiding games also help keep these dogs mentally stimulated and calmer.
Dogs that have plenty of activity in their lives are less likely to act out in undesirable ways, including showing anxiety.
If your Chi has experienced trauma, is poorly-socialized, or has severe separation anxiety, shaking, and other stress issues might require a little professional help.
Veterinary behaviorists can devise a behavior modification program that addresses these issues.
Attempting to deal with your dog’s fear issues by yourself could have unsatisfactory results.
Chihuahuas with severe fear issues may benefit from anti-anxiety medications.
Although these medications are not a complete cure for anxiety, they will keep your dog calmer when you are working on their training issues.
As a Chihuahua owner, you’ll soon realize that the calmer your dog is during training; the more effective these sessions will be.
What About Medical Reasons for a Chihuahua Shaking?
There are also medical reasons for Chihuahuas to shake that may require some further investigation.
Some of these reasons include low blood sugar, allergies, or some kind of injury.
The good thing for owners to know is that all of these circumstances involve treatable or manageable issues. Read on to learn about these conditions.
Low Blood Sugar
Chihuahuas, like other dog breeds, are unfortunately prone to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
Although low blood sugar levels is a concern among puppies, Chis of all ages can have issues with this.
Hypoglycemia can be life-threatening if it isn’t treated promptly, so you need to be able to recognize the signs.
Because low blood sugar affects a dog’s neurological function, trembling and tremors are common.
Some of the signs of hypoglycemia that you might also see include skin and gum discoloration, appetite loss, muscle twitching and trembling, lethargy, lack of coordination, and seizures.
Refusing to drink or eat might be common during a low blood sugar episode.
Some of the things that might contribute to hypoglycemia in a Chihuahua include insufficient food before exercising or going too long in between meals.
Puppies are somewhat more vulnerable because their bodies have not learned to regulate glucose properly.
Other factors that might impact puppies include cold weather, intestinal parasites, malnutrition, and stress.
When low blood sugar episodes occur regularly, veterinarians will want to rule out glycogen storage diseases, liver disease, kidney failure, pancreatic tumors, or Addison’s disease.
Some of the tests that vets might use include an ultrasound, complete blood count, blood insulin or blood glucose concentration, routine biochemistry, and urinalysis.
Chihuahuas showing symptoms of hypoglycemia should have sugar water, corn syrup, or Nutri-Cal administered under their tongue.
If your Chi continues to show signs of low blood sugar or their condition worsens, seek treatment from a vet.
Many Chihuahua owners don’t make the connection that readily; allergic reactions can also cause shaking in Chihuahuas.
If you notice the dog shaking after introducing a new food or treats, there is a good chance that an allergic reaction is at the root of the problem.
Allergic reactions are a situation where you probably want to err on the side of caution.
Although most allergic reactions are relatively mild without lasting effects, some dogs might have life-threatening symptoms.
An allergy test might be a good idea to confirm a suspected allergy. You can easily exclude the offending foods or treats if you know the cause.
If your Chi shakes a lot after eating and you have ruled out other reasons, you need to keep an allergic reaction in mind.
Injuries can be a reason why Chihuahuas shake. In the case of injuries, look for cuts or scrapes or signs of your dog limping on its front or hind leg.
Dogs have strong survival instincts that encourage them to hide the fact that they are in pain.
If you’ve seen your dog do something that could have caused an injury, take a minute to check for signs of damage.
Handle your dog calmly and carefully because a dog that has gotten hurt might become snappish.
When you are unable to find an injury or your Chi is still acting like something’s wrong, checking in with your vet might be a good idea.
You don’t want to allow a possible injury to go without care for long and risk having the injury worsen.
Watch for Medical Issues
Even though it is impossible to see all possible situations (e.g. ear infection or neurological disorder) that might arise with your Chihuahua, there are some steps you can take to help ensure that the risk of medical problems is minimized.
Taking these steps can help keep your dog healthier and ensure that shaking is less likely to be a sign of anything serious.
If you have a Chihuahua puppy less than three months old, make sure they receive dewormer and eat a portion of balanced puppy food.
Parasites and poor-quality food can jeopardize a puppy’s health. Taking care of both these issues can prevent low blood sugar incidents, especially in younger dogs.
Consider splitting your dog’s feedings up into several smaller meals throughout the day.
You will prevent hypoglycemia, as well as digestive upsets. Chihuahuas that get the right amount of food at the correct times are healthier overall.
Regular checkups with your veterinarian can help you spot any problems before they become difficult to manage.
Your veterinarian will usually do labwork yearly so that you are aware of any issues while they are still manageable.
Be careful about the foods your Chihuahua eats, including occasional treats. If you see signs of allergies or sensitivities, stop feeding that food or treats.
Although allergic reactions with severe symptoms are rare, you want to prevent this situation if possible.
Make sure you supervise your Chihuahua’s interactions, including play, with other dogs or children.
A larger dog or a child might inadvertently injure a Chi, especially a pup.
When you are careful about the situations that your old or young dog gets into, there is less of a chance of your dog shaking because of an injury.
Final Thoughts On Chihuahua Shaking
It’s very sad to see a dog shivering or in pain. In most cases, the reasons why a Chihuahua shakes are benign and easily resolved.
Keeping your dog warm and in the house during inclement weather will preserve body heat and resolve one of the most common reasons for a dog shaking.
Behavioral management techniques can help combat excessive shaking that is due to behavior problems.
However, even though shaking often has its basis on your dog being cold or a behavioral reason, you still need to watch for medical causes e.g. kidney disease.
Low blood sugar or chronic conditions may cause shaking or pain, so you want to be proactive about regular veterinarian care.
Even though Chihuahuas often shake a lot, and this is a known fact, many owners feel relief knowing that this situation is not one they must worry about a lot.
It’s often not likely that the Chi is having a seizure, although it can sometimes look like that, especially to new Chi parents.
Pet owner parents care about their dogs and want to make sure they are always well.
Pet insurance is something to think about, especially if you foresee expensive vet bills down the line.
When you know all the reasons your little dog might shake, you can deal with any problems more effectively.