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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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Pauline Smit

Thursday 10th of September 2020

I have a JackChi who is now 1 year old. We have had her since she was 8 weeks old and since day 1 she has been nervous and scared, but only at home with us. She wont let us pick her up or cuddle with her unless she initiates it first. She has just started allowing us to stroke her on her back while we are sitting down. We are experienced dog owners and give her her space and are very patient with her, don't raise our voices or reprimand her at all. We spend a lot of time walking her and playing with her and spoiling her. However, she will freely go to strangers who are visiting and when on a walk will let everyone else pick her up or pat her. She loves other dogs and has never been aggressive at all. She is very submissive to other dogs and people. She adores the cat and they spend hours preening each other. We do not have kids or kids visiting or have many guests over. She does sleep on the bed but does not snuggle at all unless she feels like it - which is not very often. She has improved a little since she was a pup, but it is such a slow process. Why will she go to strangers but be so scared with us? It makes me very sad as we love her so much! If there is something that we are not doing and should be any advice would be appreciated.

Cathy

Tuesday 15th of September 2020

That's a good question and don't think I have come across a situation quite like this. I unfortunately don't have any answers for you. I wonder what she would do if you just ignore her for awhile. Try it for a few hours and see how she reacts.

Mary Dilda

Thursday 27th of August 2020

Our 5 lb. Teacup intimates our 100lb. German Shepherd. He goes after him for no reason.

Cathy

Thursday 27th of August 2020

He's showing the shepherd that he's the Alpha. In his mind, he's as big and tough as the shepherd.

Dee Dee

Thursday 27th of August 2020

My little girl Angel is pregnant and very nervous. She always is, but especially now. I use lavender oil in my difusser but I would like to know what else I can do for my little 5 pound gal without complicating her pregnancy.

Cathy

Thursday 27th of August 2020

Good question Dee Dee. Normally I would suggest CBD oil but not sure it would be a good idea with her being pregnant. Maybe soft music?

Aimee Berube

Tuesday 18th of August 2020

I have a chipin, she is stressed because we got a boston Terrier puppy. He loves to play but doesnt realize she has had enough. Should I take her to another room where she can relax? Should I put her on a medication? I dont know what to do. Please help.

Cathy

Tuesday 18th of August 2020

They usually work it out themselves and when your chipin has had enough she will probably put him in his place. But you could give her a little canine CBD oil to keep her calm and hold her away from him when he gets too rambunctious.

Tessa Hughes

Monday 3rd of August 2020

My apple head Peanut I think is depressed. Hes usually happy tail wagging always sits in my lap, sleeps in our bed, he sits up on his hind legs and paws at me when he needs to potty, he's a very vocal Chi (sort of whines at me when he's hungry or also needs to go out, hes got a huge personality for such a little guy. Well we are full time rvers and we work all over the country building wind farms so hes very accustomed to road trips and new places every 6-10 mos depending on each Project Completion. So we took a vacation a couple weeks ago to visit my family in Louisiana and she has a dog named River (boxer mix) who IS HIS FAVORITE DOGGY FRIEND (YOU MIGHT SAY HIS BEST FRIEND) they lived together when we stayed at my moms a couple years. When we left Louisiana he obviously had to be separated from River again. Then a day after we got back to Missouri we got transferred to another project in Kansas. We haven't moved the 5th wheel here just yet so we're staying in an old hotel (historic hotel in Chanute KS) well he started acting a little different every day, now he's sleeping more often than normal, barking alot, he doesn't get excited or happy when he knows were going outside usually hell spin in a circle a couple times and jump up and down. He hasn't done that in a few days, and for some reason he's been hiding under the bed, and at night instead of whining to get in our bed hes been going in the bathroom and sleeping in this small corner on the floor. I'm taking him to the vet to get checked out but I'm so afraid that something serious is going to be wrong with him even though I'm a helicopter dog mom and very protective of him, he's well taken care of SPOILED ROTTEN EVEN. I pray that hes just got anxiety or hes missing his buddy Rver.

Cathy

Monday 3rd of August 2020

I'm glad you are getting checked by a vet because that would have been my first suggestion. Let us know what the vet says. It very well could be he's missing his friend. And then going to the hotel instead of the usual RV could be making him feel scared too.