It can be scary when you see your Chihuahua shake. But don’t worry. It’s quite common for Chihuahuas to shake, shiver and tremble.
In this guide you’ll discover:
- 16 reasons why Chihuahuas shake, shiver, and tremble.
- Myths about Chihuahuas and shaking (most people don’t know these).
- 9 health conditions that can cause your Chihuahua to shake (+ solutions and tips).
- And more…
Why do Chihuahuas shake so much?
The reasons why Chihuahuas shake so much include high metabolism, low blood sugar, being cold, nervous, upset, excited, or anxious. Shaking could also be caused due to a medical condition such as generalized tremor syndrome (GTS), poisoning, kidney disease, an injury, or an allergy.
Like mentioned above, it’s important that you understand why your Chihuahua shakes, shivers or trembles.
But before we talk about the reasons, it’s important that we we debunk some…
Chihuahua shaking myths
Chihuahuas are often perceived as small balls of nervousness. You should note, however, that not all Chihuahuas shake, shiver, and tremble.
But if yours does, you could easily think ‘My Chihuahua is nervous and this is causing them to shake.’
It’s actually the other way around. If they shake, they could become nervous.
Your Chihuahua could act calm and collected around other dogs and people, as long as you train them to do so from a young age.
Proper training and conditioning could eliminate any shaking issues that your Chihuahua could experience otherwise.
Note: It’s common for Chihuahuas to shake more than other dog breeds. If your Chihuahua shakes, it always happens for a reason and you need to find out what it is.
Ever watched the Beverly Hills Chihuahua movie?
There’s this scene where it’s said:
‘Yes, we Chihuahuas shake but not for the amusement of humans. We shake because we know the power of our inner strength – our bark. Yes – we are tiny but we’re mighty!’
Reasons why Chihuahuas shake
Let’s look closely at each reason that could be causing your Chihuahua to shake:
#1: High metabolism
The fast metabolism Chihuahuas have is due to the small size of their stomachs. This causes them to burn calories three times faster than any larger dog breed.
The high metabolism can make a Chihuahua shake when they’re excited about something. The same goes for situations in which they’re frightened.
Besides that, high metabolism is directly connected to how Chihuahuas regulate their body temperature. What basically happens is that Chihuahuas burn off their body heat quickly. As soon as that happens, your Chihuahua will feel cold.
Remember: Just because you aren’t cold, doesn’t mean your Chihuahua isn’t.
#2: Being cold
Did you know that Chihuahuas are considered to be the smallest dog in the world?
As such, not only do they not have enough body fat to keep them warm but they also don’t handle cold temperatures well. That explains why so many owners buy them jackets, jumpers, and other clothes.
There’s a variety of dog clothes fro Chihuahuas for that reason and although some look quite funny, the most important thing is to do the job.
In colder days, keep an eye on your Chihuahua and whether they shiver when you take them out. When they do, waste no time and secure them with some appropriate clothing.
Here are some tips to keep your Chihuahua warm during spring, fall, and winter:
- Dress up your Chihuahua. Pick a comfortable sweater, jumper, or a jacket, and don’t let them go outside without it.
- Hold your Chihuahua in your arms and warm them with your body temperature.
- Dry your Chihuahua immediately after a rainy walk. You can use a soft warm towel and a hairdryer.
- Use an air-conditioner or a heating system to ensure the temperature in your home is warm enough.
- Provide your Chihuahua with a soft warm bed and extra blankets.
- Place your Chihuahua’s bed further away from doors and windows, so they don’t feel a cold airflow.
#3: Being nervous or upset
Shaking, trembling, and shivering is not at all uncommon for Chihuahuas who haven’t been socialized well.
But how can socialization affect shaking?
When a poorly-socialized Chihuahua is placed among bigger dogs or ones with higher energy levels, the Chihuahua could experience distress.
Shaking is then an indication that the Chihuahua is extremely stressed or anxious. And the more your Chihuahua feels uncomfortable in such situations, the more they will shake.
A way to reduce shaking and make sure your Chihuahua feel on top of their game is to exercise them physically and mentally.
Ever noticed how when you’re overwhelmed and you take a simple walk things begin to clear out? It’s kinda the same for your Chihuahua.
Exercise helps both humans and dogs put their energy into something beneficial which in turn stimulates brain function. What’s more, it makes us feel good :).
And when we feel good, we don’t get in our heads too much and overreact.
Take your Chihuahua out for a longer walk, let it run free in safe areas, and play with other dogs.
Tip: Make sure you let your Chihuahua exercise between 30 minutes and 2 hours a day.
One emotion you can easily recognize in your Chihuahua is excitement. If you’re asked what dog behavior you associate with it, you’d probably say ‘jumping, barking, spinning’.
As of now, you can add shaking to the agenda as well :).
But if excitement is the reason for your Chihuahua shaking, is that good?
It’s nothing to worry about.
The line ‘I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it!’ is an accurate depiction of how Chihuahuas experience and show excitement.
This means that you don’t need to worry about your Chihuahua when they shake just before you give them their dinner. Or when you’re about to reward them with a treat.
Same goes for when they’re expecting you to throw a ball so they can run after it.
Let your Chihuahua be excited. Embrace it. Knowing that they’re shaking because they’re happy is a comforting thought.
#5: Anxiety (Being frightened)
You can’t blame such a small dog like the Chihuahua for being scared easily.
Most owners have no idea how smart Chihuahuas actually are. If a Chi does something you disapprove of and you scold them, they might begin to shake uncontrollably.
This doesn’t mean you’ve been harsh to them (never punish a Chihuahua physically). But they would recognize a change in your behavior towards them.
They’re able to detect if you’re mad by your tone of voice. If you raise it, don’t be surprised when your Chi starts to shake.
Besides getting frightened because they’ve done something you could get angry about, they could also get frightened in the presence of larger dogs.
Whenever you see your Chihuahua shaking near a larger dog, leash your Chihuahua and take them away from there. Shaking then is a sign that something bad is about to happen.
In such moments, your Chihuahua isn’t thinking straight and might lash out. Supposing the other dog responds, your Chihuahua could get hurt in seconds.
Caution: Try to keep your Chihuahua away from any large dogs it could feel intimidated by.
Whenever anxiety kicks in, your Chihuahua will need some reassurance to get through this state. Your job will be to make them feel secure.
If their anxiety is caused by an environmental factor, change the environment.
Before you leave your Chihuahua home alone, take them for a nice energy-draining walk.
When you’re about to exit the house, don’t act as if it’s a big deal. In other words – don’t shower your Chihuahua with attention. Don’t speak to them hug or pet them. Use the ‘No talk, no touch, no eye contact’ principle.
Also, to avoid separation anxiety episodes of your Chihuahua, start leaving them alone for several minutes each day. Try to build it up when they get used to being 5 minutes alone, 10, and so on.
#6: Low blood sugar (Hypoglycemia)
Low blood sugar (a.k.a hypoglycemia) causes Chihuahuas to get lethargic and shake intensely. When not addressed on time and treated accordingly, it could lead to seizures and even death.
If your Chihuahua’s condition is mild, they could start shaking. But when it’s severe, they could act drowsy, confused, and eventually faint.
Sounds scary so let’s jump to the good news – it’s relatively easy to treat.
What you should do it is distribute your Chihuahua’s meals in smaller portions throughout the day. So, instead of giving one meal in the morning and another in the evening, give 3 to 5 meals per day.
Don’t lower the amount of food you give per day. Just spread it evenly so it can last for this many meals.
Additionally, it’s advisable to keep a dropper filled with sugar water. It will come in handy when you notice your Chihuahua experiencing hypoglycemia symptoms. Just add a few drops to the meal or to their throat.
#7: Old age
It’s not at all uncommon for older Chihuahuas to get tremors in their front or hind legs. Luckily, these tremors do not affect the way your Chihuahua walks.
As your Chihuahua ages, take them regularly to the vet. While old age could be causing the tremors, you shouldn’t exclude the possibility of your Chihuahua being in pain.
To make sure the tremors you see aren’t accompanied by any kind of pain, talk to your vet.
Health conditions causing shaking
Here are the health conditions that your Chihuahua could be suffering from if none of the above match the case:
#8: Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)
Also known as steroid responsive tremor syndrome, GTS can be seen in dogs with all kinds of size and breed.
This one is tricky because you could easily mistake it for anxiety or low body temperature (hypothermia).
The syndrome usually affects the dog between the 9th month and 2 years of their life.
You’ll need to provide your vet with information on your Chihuahua’s physical activity, behavior, and the symptoms you’ve noticed.
Your vet will need to run a complete physical check on your Chihuahua.
Depending on how severe the tremors are, your Chihuahua will receive either inpatient or outpatient care.
Treating your Chihuahua with corticosteroids prescribed by your vet can give results in a week-time. This is the primary method for dealing with the syndrome.
Pay attention to how your Chihuahua is shaking. You can recognize the signs of poisoning if your Chihuahua if they start to shake all of a sudden very intensely.
Poisoning can occur when your Chihuahua ingests certain foods that are toxic to dogs. These could be raisins or chocolate – especially when rich in cocoa.
What could come as a surprise to you is that your Chihuahua can get poisoned by chewing on cigarettes (because they include nicotine).
Xylitol that is a sugar substitute present in chewing gums can also have detrimental effects on the health of your Chihuahua.
Your Chihuahua could also poison themselves if they get their tongue on surfaces sprayed with insecticides. Do not underestimate the influence insecticides can have on your small dog.
Take it from me – my long-haired Chihuahua mix got intoxicated by licking the floor of our home after it has been sprayed against ticks…
3 hours have passed before we entered our home after it’s been sprayed. I washed the floor two times before we let Lissa in, as I was instructed.
Despite following the instructions and my efforts, she licked the floor a few times and we had to get her checked out at our nearby veterinary clinic.
To a tiny dog, even a small but concentrated amount of insecticide could be fatal.
Typical signs of poisoning include:
- A swollen face.
- Blood coughing.
If you notice your Chihuahua shaking severely and showing any of the above mentioned signs, head to the vet before it’s too late.
#10: Kidney disease
Kidney disease could cause shaking but can also be recognized by a lot of other signs such as:
- Pale gums.
- Bloody eyes.
- Weight loss.
- Lack of balance.
- Ulcers in the mouth.
- Deteriorated breathing.
#11: Ear infections
Ear infections are one of the most common reasons for vet visits. But what causes them?
Just like humans, Chihuahuas could have excessive ear wax production. When the ear wax isn’t regularly cleaned, it can cause an infection.
Other causes are allergies and moisture in the ears.
When it comes to ear infections, your Chihuahua will most probably not shake their body but their head instead.
A big indication that something inside the ears of your Chihuahua could be off, is when they often try to rub their head against a wall, the floor, the couch, or tilt their head.
Although that alone could not be considered a factor, there are some other symptoms to guide you along the way. They are:
- Ear odor.
- Ear scratching.
- Red or swollen ear canal.
- Dark or yellowish discharge.
Take your Chihuahua to the vet for ear examination. That way they can tell you what type of bacteria has caused the ear infection.
Your vet will likely prescribe a treatment you have to apply at home.
Don’t miss out on: How often should you clean your Chihuahuas’ ears?
#12: Internal injury
Chihuahuas could easily have a traumatic experience if they’re not monitored at all times. Their small size makes them prone to be stepped on, dropped, or attacked by bigger dogs.
Even though on the outside everything might seem fine, your Chihuahua could have an internal injury.
If so, your Chihuahua will likely communicate they’re hurt by shaking, whining, yelping, or limping.
Other symptoms to look out for if you suspect an internal injury are:
- Glazed eyes.
- Black diarrhea.
- Whimpering when touched.
- Coughing or vomiting blood.
- Fast heartbeat (early indication).
- Changed gum color (pale or blue indicates a serious issue).
Treatment can vary depending on the type of internal injury. Trauma caused by a vehicle could require hospitalization.
In such cases, medication helps relieve pain. This could be antibiotics, antiarrhythmic drugs because of the fast-beating heart.
In some instances, surgery is necessary. That applies to Chihuahuas that have broken bones (spinal and neck ones).
Last but not least, your Chihuahua could have an allergic reaction and thus shiver.
Have you recently changed their food?
If your Chihuahua begins shivering after they’ve just eaten, they could be reacting towards an ingredient in the new type of food.
In case they do not stop shaking and other symptoms start to appear in the meantime, go to your vet asap.
Allergic reactions need to be treated because it’s unlikely they’ll pass on their own. And if they’re not treated accordingly, they could cost your Chihuahua’s life.
What you can do to find out if your Chihuahua has an allergy towards something, is run them through an allergy test. First, turn to your vet for more advice on how to proceed with this step in your Chihuahua’s case.
The possible causes of nausea are many. Your Chihuahua could get nauseous due to mediation, overeating, or eating something toxic.
Kidney and liver disease could also cause nausea.
Symptoms of nausea are:
- Excessive drooling.
Poisoning could lead to nausea. If you spot your Chihuahua vomiting, having diarrhea, or being nauseous, inform your vet immediately.
It will be helpful if you’re aware of what your Chihuahua has ingested prior to showing symptoms.
Shaking could be a sign of a neurological disorder such as epilepsy. This heal condition includes:
- Mouth foaming.
- Muscle twitching.
- Loss of consciousness.
You can treat the seizures by using medications that control them. Some examples of such medications are potassium bromide, Keppra, and phenobarbital.
Canine distemper is caused by a virus. It’s a very dangerous disease that often affects puppies and adult dogs that haven’t had all of their vaccines.
It’s one of the causes of tremors in Chihuahuas.
Distemper is usually categorized by:
- Eye discharge (tip: Read this article to discover more reasons why Chihuahuas have watery eyes. And learn how you can remove tear stains.
- Nose discharge.
To treat distemper, you might have to give your Chihuahua antibiotics, physical therapy, and airway dilators. It’s also likely that you’ll have to ensure the intake of fluids to prevent dehydration.