It seems to be such a cliché, doesn’t it? The tiny, shivering Chihuahua. So why do Chihuahuas shake? This post will detail the most common reasons and ways to help your shaking Chihuahua.
Why Does My Chihuahua Shake?
The most common causes of shivering or trembling in dogs include being cold, anxiety, low blood sugar, poisoning, and various diseases. Sometimes the shaking is easy to remedy. But if your Chihuahua suddenly starts trembling or shivering, it’s important to take note of other signs such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping and take him/her to vet immediately.
Shivering is a mechanism of thermal regulation. Chihuahuas need to be in a warm place since they do not have much hair or body fat to protect them from the cold weather.
This dog breed has been adapted over the years from a hot climate, and that is what they are more comfortable with. Do give them snuggly blankets to cuddle under and have them wear a sweater when it’s cold outside. Many chis need to wear a sweater, or at least a shirt, year around.
Chihuahuas also have a naturally high metabolism. This affects how their small body regulates its temperature, and can make them shiver if they become anxious or excited. Dogs with higher metabolisms tend to burn off body heat much more quickly, so even if you don’t feel at all cold, your Chihuahua may be.
Anxiety or Excitement
Chihuahuas, like other small dogs, are very prone to stress and anxiety. This is the most common cause of shivering in this dog breed. Your little friend may be shivering because he or she is excited to see you or other members of the family.
It is also possible that he or she is anxious or stressed out. For example, your dog may be stressed because another dog is around. A little stress is not harmful to anyone; however, you should identify any cause of continuous stress and, if possible, eliminate it from the environment.
Shaking and trembling along with howling, whining, and pacing are also signs of separation anxiety. This usually happens when the dog owner leaves, and the dog is left alone. Your pup can begin to display the signs of separation anxiety a few minutes after the dog owner has left the home.
Another reason why Chihuahuas shake could be hypoglycemia. This is low blood sugar, and about 10% of all Chis suffer from this.
If your dog has it, break up their meals into multiple small meals throughout the day. The amount of food should stay the same, just feed them more often. You can also squirt a little sugar water into their mouth if they seem to be having an attack, and you know they suffer from hypoglycemia.
This is a viral disease that affects dogs that are not current with their vaccinations. Chihuahuas infected with the distemper virus will show a variety of systemic illness signs, such as eye and nose discharge, fever, coughing, diarrhea, and vomiting.
In addition, the distemper virus can cause neurological signs like tremors and uncoordinated movements. Treating distemper generally involves supportive care while your dog’s immune system fights the virus.
Treatment may also include antibiotics, airway dilators, physical therapy, and fluids to help manage dehydration. Take your Chihuahua to the vet immediately if you observe any of these signs.
Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)
This syndrome is also known as steroid responsive tremor syndrome or white shaker dog syndrome. It was first noticed in small, white dogs such as the Maltese and West Highland white terriers, but it can occur in dogs of any size, breed, or color.
The causes of this syndrome and the dog’s shaking are unknown. The signs of GTS start between nine months and two years of age. Treatment generally consists of corticosteroids.
Several toxins or poisons can cause tremors or shaking in dogs. Common substances that are poisonous for dogs include chocolate, cigarettes, antifreeze, insecticides, and Xylitol (the sugar substitute found in many chewing gums).
Signs of poisoning can vary but may include tremors, weakness, disorientation, depression, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. If you think that your Chihuahua is intoxicated, you can call the ASPCA poison control center at (888) 426-4435, and they can help you determine if the substance is toxic to your pet.
The ASPCA poison control center is available 24/7, so this is a good option if it is late in the night, and you cannot find an available veterinarian.
There are other less common reasons for shivering or trembling in dogs. If you have questions about your Chihuahua’s shivering or trembling, or about any health and wellness issue, you should contact your veterinarian.
Remedies for Chihuahua Shivering
To help stop the shivering, you need to know the cause. Most of the time, there are very simple solutions you can follow to help your pup.
- First, make sure your dog stays warm. If you live in an area that sees cooler temperatures, then find them some cute sweaters to wear to keep them warm. You should also avoid letting them stay outside for too long when the weather is too cold.
- If the shaking is due to being anxious or scared, then your pup will need some reassurance. Let them know that they are okay. If it is possible, try removing them from whatever situation or environment is causing them to feel that way.
- If you suspect your pup might be hypoglycemic, have them tested by your veterinarian right away. Once you know for sure that this is the cause, it is very easy to treat.
- If your pup is shaking because of separation anxiety, it is recommended that you take them for a walk before leaving the house. When you are about to leave, try to avoid all touching, talking, and eye contact, and say your goodbyes a good bit of time before you actually leave. You should also start out by leaving your pup alone for just a few minutes at a time to see how he reacts.
- Finally, keep a watchful eye on your Chihuahua’s diet. Feeding them smaller meals throughout the day may help.
- If you have tried everything and your Chihuahua is still shivering, then you may want to consider that they may have been injured. Your Chihuahua pup may shake, whine, and yelp if they have been hurt. Small dogs are more susceptible to injury as well because of their size. So, look for other symptoms like limping, crying, or a change in their personality and behavior. If you notice these signs, then take your Chihuahua to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
So, does your Chihuahua shake? Kilo does, but only when she is cold or scared. Hopefully this information will be helpful to you when trying to figure out why Chihuahuas shake and shiver.
Read more about other Chihuahua health problems.
Dr. Sara Ochoa
This article has been fact-checked and approved by Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM. You can read more about her on our About page.