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Anxiety in Chihuahuas

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Chill Out! How to Help Your Stressed-Out Chihuahua

Anxiety in Chihuahuas

In today’s world, many of us dog owners have high-stress lifestyles – the demands of work, home, and family can really ramp up our anxiety level. What about our dogs, however – is it possible for our Chihuahuas to experience anxiety like we do?

The simple answer, of course, is yes. It’s true that many breeds are far more unflappable than our little friends. Chihuahuas in particular seem to be known for their nervous tendencies, and just like their human counterparts, our stressed out pups may worry about a number of different things.

Chihuahua anxiety

In some cases, the anxiety is so severe that it can affect our family routines or our relationships with our Chihuahuas; sometimes causing us to be worried, overprotective, upset, angry or even resentful of our pup’s behavior. And just as with people, constant anxiety might even have a worrisome effect on your little friend’s health, increasing their cortisol (stress hormone) levels and making their immune system less effective when they’re fighting illness.

Every dog can show their anxiety in different ways, and it’s up to us to do some detective work if we notice that our Chis are acting differently. Shaking or trembling is a pretty typical behavior trait we notice in our diminutive dogs when they’re uneasy, but there are some other signs that might tip you off to the fact that your Chihuahua is too stressed out such as:

• A change in their appetite – yes, our friends tend to be picky eaters as a rule, but sometimes they’re not eating because they’re actually anxious
• Weight loss or other health issues
• Unusually quiet or even depressed
• Destructive behaviors like chewing on furniture or clothing
• Increased whining, whimpering or barking
• Clinginess
• Reluctance to potty in their normal spot, or peeing and pooping in the house suddenly
• Licking or chewing at themselves – compulsive grooming can often release endorphins (feel-good hormones), so some Chihuahuas may repeatedly lick or chew at their skin and fur to help relieve their anxious feelings
• Aggressive behavior – it’s not unusual for a stressed or fearful dog to lash out in defense, or to physically redirect their feelings onto the closest target if they’re feeling extremely nervous

stress in Chihuahuas

Sometimes, it’s easy for us to see what’s upsetting our dogs, like the presence of scary noises or the fear of being separated from us. At other times, though, we might have no idea what’s causing our pups to quiver in misery – it’s not like they can tell us in words, exactly! Because we know that it’s far from fun to be always stressed out, it is important to get to the bottom of the issue that’s bothering your Chihuahua. To begin with, let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons why many of our little dogs might be stressed:

• Separation from their owner or other animal friend – Chis tend to bond very closely with their families.
• Boredom – Our smart little pooches need lots of interaction and play to give them enough mental stimulation.
• Not enough physical activity – though small, Chis still need lots of exercise!
• Fear – Especially if they’ve been poorly socialized, or have had a traumatic experience previously, Chihuahuas might be stressed out by new people, different environments, loud or unusual noises, and even other dogs or pets.
• Changes in routine – Dogs are creatures of habit, and if we could actually talk to them, most of them would say they prefer a fairly predictable daily routine. This is an instinctual remnant from their wolfish ancestors – consistency in food source and shelter meant a greater rate of survival!
• Health problems or chronic pain – it’s never fun being sick, and a Chi who’s feeling crummy all the time can definitely feel upset and anxious.
• Losing a family member (human or animal) –Chihuahuas are little dogs with big hearts; it’s not uncommon for them to grieve after losing a close companion.

The good news is that there are many ways in which you can lend a helping paw to your anxious pup. To begin with, it’s always a good idea to have them fully examined by their veterinarian to help rule out any medical problems that could be causing their stress. Next, taking steps to enrich your Chihuahua’s day-to-day routine can go a long way towards lowering their stress level! Feeding a high-quality and nutritious diet, providing fresh water, and giving your pup a comfortable and secure place to rest (without fear of interruption) are great ways to keep them physically healthy, but your time and attention is important to your pup too.

Make sure that your Chihuahua is getting lots of exercise from daily walks or backyard playtime, and give their brain a workout as well with interactive toys, obedience training, teaching fun tricks, or even games of ‘hide and seek’ or ‘find the treat’. We already know that our Chis welcome love and affection in large supply, but remember to avoid harsh corrections or punishment too, which can only make anxiety worse.

nervous Chihuahua

For some Chihuahuas, simply giving them more of our time can make a huge difference in how they feel; for others, however, the chronic cycle of stress and anxiety can be impossible to relieve without help, particularly in cases of severe separation anxiety, extreme under-socialization or fear caused by a really dire event. For these dogs, a program of slow and careful behavior modification supervised by a veterinary behaviorist is often the best option for recovery and relief.

Occasionally, veterinarian prescribed anti-anxiety medications are an option for relieving severe anxiety too, which helps with behavior training and conditioning, allowing a dog to become calm enough to be able to experience certain situations without feeling constant stress.

It’s true that there’s often no quick and easy solution to treating your Chihuahua’s anxiety, but that doesn’t mean it should merely be brushed off as ‘just a Chihuahua thing’. Emotional stress is a serious problem for many of our pups, and as their loving owners, we need to step forward and help them through it. After all, aren’t they always there for us?

So, is your Chihuahua stressed out and anxious? Do you know why? Have you tried anything to to help your Chi with his/her stress? Did it work? Let us know in the comments!

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Jim Gedmin

Saturday 6th of June 2020

We got our Chi from a rescue shelter. She is very nervous at times, and when calling her name, she drags her back legs on the floor and is timid in coming to me. Only after a long period of time she will eventually let you touch her. I don't know if this is normal Chi behavior, or maybe she had been abused prior to our ownership?

She also clings to my mother during the day usually buried under her covers. But at night she strangely will come and sit by me, as if she is afraid of my mom. The only thing I can think of is that I let her sleep in my bed a few times, and she usually sleeps in a cage in my mother's room.

Is it possible she is traumatized by the cage? I don't like the idea of her being caged, but my mother worries about her getting rolled on while I sleep with her.

Any ideas or suggestions to help her would be appreciated. Thanks

Cathy

Saturday 6th of June 2020

Some dogs are just naturally timid but it does sound like something traumatic may have happened to her before you got her. The cage very well could traumatize her. Most dogs prefer to sleep with their pack and that may be why she prefers you at night. You could do what I do and put your dog's bed in your bed and let her sleep there. Then you probably wouldn't roll over on her. Of course that's no guarantee that she will stay in that bed. Mine will sometimes get right next to me or under the covers with me if they are afraid or cold. But they usually stay in their beds.

Karen Itterman

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

My female 12 year old Chihuahua cross is very nervous I suspect from not being properly socialized. I have her on CBD oil twice a day as well as an adaption atomizer. The adapil is a pheromone like the mother would emit and promotes calm. The difference in her is amazing with the use of these 2aids.

Cathy

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

Very interesting Karen. Is adapil something you can buy over the counter or do you need a prescription for it?

Kathy

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

we have 2 chi's, Riley is 13, and Jazzy is 11. We rescued Riley 11 years ago, we think someone dumped him out of a car window in the dessert, we were going home, some guy pulled up to the gas station we were at, asked if we lost a small dog, he was driving on a backroad, thought he saw a jackrabbit, slowed down, ended rolling Riley under his car because he was to weak to move. We took Riley home not knowing if he would live or die, he lived, has separation issues, we got Jazzy for Riley to help with that as we both work, they go bananas if they don't know where each other is at. Riley will go after other dogs, doesn't matter the size, so have to be careful when taking them for a walk. Love them both to pieces.

Cathy

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

Poor little Riley! No wonder he has separation issues! Glad he has a good life now with you all.

Karla

Thursday 9th of April 2020

Our 8 year old Chi Cleo came to us from a local breeder when she was 10 weeks old. When we need to pick her up off the floor, she has always just comes close to us and just lies down on her legs trembling. She has always done this since likelihood and we don't know why. Is this an indication that something happened to her as a puppy? Also, lately her chin has started trembling frequently now. Does this indicate nervousness or should I have her vet examine her?

Cathy

Thursday 9th of April 2020

When she comes to you with her legs trembling, she is she is showing you respect as the alpha.It doesn't mean she was mis-treated. The chin trembling thing, I think I would mention that to the vet. It's probably nothing but there are some neurological conditions that could cause that.

Claire

Sunday 22nd of March 2020

Hello, we are a retired couple and we adopted from Pet Rescue a beautiful little Chihuahua girl. She will be turning three years old this July.

1st concern; she is such a picky eater, I give her Royal Canin dry food with adult canned food for small dogs. I'm worried that she does not eat enough, she eats when she feels like it. We do not give table food but I make her dog cookies for treats.

2nd the other concern she does not like going in the car.

3rd she's a very nervous little girl, we don't understand why we give her so much love and affection she's always on our laps cuddling, playing.

Do you have any suggestions that can help?

thanks Claire

Cathy

Sunday 22nd of March 2020

Hi Claire, For the eating thing, chis really don't need much. As long as she's getting 1/2 cup of food a day, she's getting enough.

For the car thing, some dogs are just never going to like riding in them. I have one that still hates it, no matter what we do. For other dogs I have had that didn't like riding in a car, they eventually got to liking it when we made sure the car rides were associated with something good. I would get them a puppichino at Starbacks drive thru or take them to the beach or to the park or to PetSmart. We also did the car rides often, at least everyday or every other day.

For the nervous thing, many chihuahuas tend to be kind of nervous. Sometimes it's due to what they have gone through but sometimes they are just that way from the time they are born. The only thing I can suggest that may help is CBD oil. That tends to relax them somewhat.