Why Do Chihuahuas Shake?

(Last Updated On: July 7, 2022)

Have you ever noticed that many chihuahuas shake a lot? This might worry you if you have one of these rambunctious little pups, especially since you don’t see other breeds shaking like this. Don’t worry though: there are many common reasons why chihuahuas shake.

Chihuahua floppy ears

Chihuahua bite force

Does your chihuahua have its tongue sticking out?

Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix

Deer Head Chihuahua

Why Do Chihuahuas Shake?

Rest assured that if you see your chihuahua shaking, it really is normal. Now, this does not mean that they’re shaking for no reason though. If you see your chihuahua shaking, take a minute to consider their environment and their behavior so that you can help them relax.

Common Reasons for Shaking

Usually, your chihuahua will shake for any number of common reasons. This might include high metabolism, low blood sugar, or if they are cold, nervous, upset, excited or anxious. These don’t have to be too serious, and can usually be resolved with simple fixes that you can do or that your vet can do.

By keeping an eye on your pet though, you can reduce their shaking and keep them healthy.

High Metabolism

The chihuahua is a breed that has a naturally high metabolism, which can cause them to shiver and shake when they get excited or anxious. This will also affect their body temperature because they will be burning heat quickly and using up their calories.

Just imagine your tiny little chihuahua who is much smaller than you—it’s no wonder that they may feel cold even if you don’t. Even if you have a breed of chihuahua that has a little more hair, they will still need something to help them stay warm especially in the colder months.

Chilly Weather

Thanks to that high metabolism, you already know that your chihuahua is sensitive to the cold and likely to be cold even if you aren’t. It doesn’t help that, regardless of whether your dog has short or long hair, chihuahuas are naturally not great with the cold.

They’re a small breed with low body fat, after all, which is why you will usually see chihuahuas wearing little sweaters or wrapped in a blanket when it’s around 40 degrees outside. If you live in an area that’s this cold, buying a little sweater or blanket is one of the best things you can do to control shaking.

Chihuahua in the snow

Cold Solutions

Considering your chihuahuas sensitivity to cold, you can help reduce their shaking with a few quick tricks. This includes buying a little sweater or jacket for them, which you need to remember to put on them before you let them outside. Clothing on your chihuahua isn’t something done on a whim! While it may help your little pooch look adorable, these sweaters are actually necessary for their health.

You may also want to warm them up quickly by holding them in your arms to heat them with your body temperature. If it rains, don’t let them shake themselves off either. You should instead towel them off to help them warm up more quickly.

It’ll help if you give your dog a warm and soft bed, padded with a few extra warm and soft blankets. They will surely appreciate having a blanket fresh out of the dryer too. Place the bed away from windows and doors so that they won’t get any extra cold air, and of course, if you are able to, shut and insulate windows for them.

Anxiety and Fear

People get anxious all the time—and so does your chihuahua. Now, this doesn’t mean that your chihuahua is just an easily intimidated animal. Actually, despite their size, your little dog isn’t necessarily more prone to be frightened as compared to other dogs. They are actually quite smart and can pick up easily on little social cues or on various situations.

They get scared too, and react physically to how they are treated and to their environment. Like if you scold your dog, they may begin shaking because they know you are unhappy with them. Don’t feel bad about scolding them! Training is necessary, but this may be a reason why your chihuahua shakes, especially if you can’t find another reason.

Chihuahua anxiety

Environment

Pay attention to your environment too. Your dog might be shaking because they’re around a lot of other people or dogs, especially larger dogs. If you notice your pooch shaking around a big dog or around a crowd, you can remove them from the area.

Actually, you should definitely remove them from the situation, and reintroduce them more slowly so that they can acclimate at a more comfortable rate.

Fear Solutions

In the case that your little dog is shaking out of fear and anxiety, you can remove them from that situation if possible. Of course, if you’re disciplining them, you do still need to do that, but if they’re shaking because they’re around a large dog, you can reassure them that it will be okay and remove them from that situation.

If they’re scared because you need to leave the house, you need to help reduce their stress. Take a lengthy walk with them before you leave so that they’re a little tired out, and don’t put too much attention into leaving—don’t make it a whole production when you leave the home.

Socialization

One of the best things you can do to help your little friend is to train them from a young age—which includes socializing them. This will help them adjust to fear situations so that they aren’t shaking out of intense fear for their entire life.

Get them used to being around other people, to being around other dogs, and to exercising and working with you regularly. You will want to get yourself used to exercising daily with your chihuahua and providing them with a lot of mental stimulation, because neglecting their needs can also cause them to shake.

Excitement

Your chihuahua might shake because they’re scared or nervous, or even because they’re cold. But they also might shake because they’re excited! This is completely normal, and may accompany other forms of excited behavior such as jumping, barking, or spinning.

It really isn’t anything to worry about if you see your pooch shaking when they’re excited. They might shake before you give them their dinner, or when their favorite person comes to visit. Let your little dog be excited! The only time you may need to worry is if you notice them shaking for a long time after the event or if they do not calm down. In this case, you should try calming them down yourself.

Allergies

This is a common condition in dogs—to be allergic to some type of food. You might notice this if you change their food to something different and they begin shaking right after you give them their food.

If they continue to shake and display other symptoms as well, you need to go to your vet as soon as possible. Allergies aren’t the type of thing that disappear on their own, which means that they need to be treated quickly. Your veterinarian may possibly be able to assist you with finding food options that work properly for your chihuahua.

Chihuahua Allergies

Old Age

Older chihuahuas may shake for the simple reason that, well, they’re older. This is absolutely normal, although these little tremors shouldn’t affect their actual walking. It may be a sign of a bigger issue if they cannot walk due to their shaking.

Of course, you should also still take your older chihuahua to the vet regularly, especially if you notice them shaking. You will want to check that they aren’t shaking for any other reason and that they aren’t in any pain.

Old chihuahua

Shaking Myths

Most people think that chihuahuas shake just because they’re little. Which, as we know when we think about their size and metabolism, isn’t entirely untrue. But actually, your chihuahua won’t just be shaking because they’re nervous.

They actually might become nervous because they’re shaking. While it’s common for your chihuahua to shake in certain situations, if they are shaking around lots of other people or dogs, they may actually become nervous.

Uncommon Reasons for Shaking

With all this being said, there are some uncommon and more serious reasons that your pooch might be shaking. If you have taken a minute to take stock of your environment and cannot find a reason why they might be shaking, like being cold or nervous, you may want to consider some of these more uncommon reasons.

Your little pooch might be shaking due to a medical condition like generalized tremor syndrome, poisoning, kidney disease, an injury, or an allergy.

Injury

Your chihuahua is a small dog. This makes it easy for someone to accidentally step on them or bump into them. Or if you take them to the dog park, a larger dog might not even see them there!

Your little pooch might end up with an injury then. Now, this might be obvious like if they’re walking oddly, but this also might not be so obvious—and so they may try to communicate their condition by shaking or yelping.

Check if they have any other symptoms like dizziness that may coincide with injury, and take them to your vet if you don’t notice anything like fear motivating their shaking. Your vet will be able to check whether it’s something truly serious and prescribe them with any possible medication or treatment for pain.

Low Blood Sugar

Just like people can struggle with low blood sugar, so can your chihuahua. You might already know that hypoglycemia is a serious condition, and can cause your dog to be lethargic and shake intensely. This is the type of condition which needs to be addressed and treated quickly or it may lead to seizures and even death.

Take a breath—it’s definitely scary, but you can keep an eye on the signs. Check that there is nothing wrong in their environment and keep an eye on their condition. In severe cases, you will notice drowsiness, confusion, and possible fainting.

This is easy to treat though. You only need to distribute your chihuahua’s meals throughout the day in smaller portions. Try separating meals in 3 to 5 meals per day rather than one in the morning and one in the evening, but don’t reduce the amount of food you’re giving them. You may even keep a little dropper filled with sugar water. If you notice some symptoms, drop some in your pooch’s food or directly in their mouth.

Generalized Tremor Syndrome

GTS is not something which is unique to just a small breed like the chihuahua. You might notice this shaking in any dog, although it can be difficult to diagnose in chihuahuas because this might look like anxiety or hypothermia.

First off, take a second to consider your dog’s age. This syndrome will usually only affect dogs younger than 2 years but older than 9 months.

Then, take your pooch to the vet. Tell the vet about any and all symptoms and let them do a physical check on your chihuahua. There’s an easy treatment for this, including possible corticosteroids which will resolve the issue in about a week. Your vet will inform you of their recommendations.

Poisoning

This is definitely an uncommon situation, but you can’t watch your chihuahua at all times. They may have eaten raisins or chocolate, both of which are toxic to dogs. They may have even licked something outside that they weren’t supposed to, or were too close to a surface with insecticides. 

Be very careful, because even if you use something like a spray to handle bugs in your home, and even if you wash the areas down where you sprayed, even a small concentration can still be dangerous for your chihuahua. They’re a small breed, after all.

The signs of this type of poisoning are something that should be easy to notice. They will simply start shaking suddenly and very intensely. You may also notice drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, weakness, dehydration, swelling, or blood in their mouth. Take them to the vet immediately in this case.

Kidney Disease

Shaking is one of the symptoms of kidney disease as well. If you only notice shaking, your chihuahua likely does not have kidney issues, but if they are also weak, have pale gums and bloody eyes, are losing weight quickly, are lacking in balance, or are having trouble breathing, you will want to get your dog checked out with the vet. This may be an uncommon situation, but it’s still completely serious.

Ear Infections

In this case, your chihuahua will likely be shaking only their head rather than their body, so you should be able to differentiate this from other forms of shaking.

You might be able to check for this yourself by looking in your dog’s ear—and seeing a build up of ear wax. This can cause an actual ear infection. Even allergies or having water in the ears might mean your pooch has an ear infection.

Keep an eye on their behavior to see if they’re rubbing their head against a wall, floor, or couch, and if they’re tilting their head more than usual. You can even do something as simple as smell their ear to ensure that there isn’t any odd smell.

Your vet may do this too when you take them to get checked out. Luckily, an ear infection is a problem that can be resolved with a prescription, and can be prevented by cleaning out your dog’s ears regularly.

Seizures

This is a serious condition, and will likely look a little bit different compared to your usual shaking. You will see other conditions along with a seizure, like drooling, stiffening, collapsing, mouth foaming, muscle twitching, and even loss of consciousness. Consult your vet if you doubt that your chihuahua’s shaking is caused by a seizure, or if you notice that the shaking is different than normal shaking you would see with fear or anxiety.

Go to the Vet

If you have checked on your chihuahua’s environment, you’ve bundled them up, and you’ve kept an eye on them and don’t notice any external factors that may be causing them to shake, this is when it would be a good idea to take them to the vet. It’s important to leave any legitimate diagnoses to your vet so that you can check to see if your dog is in good health and gets the right treatment for any condition they may have.

If you notice your dog shaking excessively too, even if it might be from something simple like anxiety or cold, you might still talk to your vet to get more information. They can suggest methods to help treat your pup and to help socialize them properly.

Conclusion

Your chihuahua might just be shaking for a relatively normal reason, such as them being cold, but they also might potentially be struggling with something more serious. Check their environment and remember to bundle them up in something cute to keep them warm, and if this doesn’t work, always talk to your vet. 

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