Why Chihuahuas Shake, Shiver, Tremble So Much?

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 02/19/22 •  11 min read
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Why Chihuahuas Shake, Shiver, Tremble So Much

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Chihuahuas have a certain reputation for shaking, shivering, or trembling. But what causes this type of behavior?

If you’re wondering why your small fur baby is shaking, shivering, or trembling, you’ve come to the right place. It’s scary when you see your dog acting like this! You wonder what’s wrong!

We’ve put together some information on some of the most common causes for these behaviors in Chihuahuas. So, let’s get started!

Myths About Shaking in Chihuahuas

As with certain other habits in dogs, there are some myths as to why Chihuahuas shake. Some people believe it’s because the dogs are so small and nervous. However, not all of these diminutive dogs shake.

However, some Chihuahuas do shake because they’re nervous or fearful. And this dog breed does shake and tremble more than other dog breeds. While this can be normal, if your fur baby is shaking, it’s important to figure out what could be causing this behavior.

The Most Common Reasons Chihuahuas Shake

In this section, we’ll cover the most common reasons Chihuahuas shake and what you can do to help your small fur baby!

1. Being Too Cold

Chihuahuas are the smallest dog in the world! What’s more, they don’t have enough body fat to keep them warm, and they don’t deal with cold temperatures very well. As a result, many pet parents dress their Chis in sweaters, coats, and more when it’s cold outside (or inside!).

Not only do the dogs look adorable dressed up, but they also stay warmer! So, if your fur baby seems to be too cold, be sure to dress him warmly. And in colder weather, it’s always a good idea for your Chihuahua canine companion to be dressed up snug and warm.

Another way to keep your fur baby warm is to hold him near you. Your body heat will help warm him up pretty quickly. And if your fur baby gets wet outside, he will become cold quickly. So, make sure to dry him off right away. You can use a soft towel and a blow dryer set on a warm temperature (but not the hottest—or you could burn the dog’s skin).

You might also consider making sure your Chi’s bed is in a warm place and piled high with blankets. Then your fur baby can snuggle down and stay warm for a long time. Be sure to keep your dog’s bed away from windows, doors, and cold drafts.

2. Being Excited

Your Chihuahua may be excited, which may cause him to shake and tremble! These little dogs do become easily excited! Other dogs may jump, bark, and run around when excited. Sure, a Chihuahua may also do this, but they also shake when really excited.

These little dogs can safely become excited, like any other dog. Your fur baby may be very happy to see you when you get home from shopping, for instance! They may also become very excited when you’re going to play with them!

There’s nothing to worry about if your dog is really excited. Shaking is common in Chihuahuas who are really excited about something!

The main thing is to not feed them if they’re so excited. Instead, wait until they’ve calmed down first, and then it’s safe to feed them. After all, you don’t want your excited dog to get sick! Then neither of you will be very excited!

3. Being Anxious or Scared

Chihuahuas may also shake if they’re anxious or scared. These small dogs can scare easily. For one thing, these dogs are highly intelligent and sensitive. If you happen to holler at your dog, he may start to shake because he knows he’s done something wrong and that you’re not happy with him.

This doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily been too hard on the dog. It just shows how sensitive these little guys can be. They respond to your tone of voice, your face, and more.

Chis may also become afraid around larger dogs and start shaking. You may notice the leash is shaking along with your dog if you’re out on a walk. Your dog is afraid something bad is going to happen. So, it’s best to cautiously and carefully leave the situation.

The problem in these instances is that a Chihuahua may become so anxious or scared that they do something like lash out at you or the larger dog. In that case, your fur baby could be hurt (by the larger dog) quite easily. So, it’s best to calmly leave the situation before your Chi gets out of hand.

Also, be sure to offer your Chihuahua plenty of reassurance and love to help him feel safe and secure. If your fur baby suffers from separation anxiety, then try taking him on a long walk (but not too long) to help release pent-up energy. This way, he’ll probably sleep most of the time you’re away rather than become anxious.

4. Fast Metabolism

Chihuahuas also have a fast metabolism because of their small size. They’re not able to eat as much food; what’s more, these dogs burn calories much faster than larger dogs. With such a high metabolism, the Chi may shake when excited (as noted earlier).

The dog’s metabolism also determines the dog’s body temperature. If a Chihuahua becomes too cold, he will shake to warm himself up. These small dogs easily become cold. You may feel completely comfortable; however, your fur baby may be way too cold and start to shake.

5. Being Nervous or Upset

Another reason that Chihuahuas shake is because they may be nervous or upset. This behavior is especially common in Chis who have not been properly trained and socialized.

Remember, these are small dogs. They may feel threatened or afraid in many situations, especially around larger dogs. However, if a Chi has been properly socialized, he will feel confident in just about any situation and know how to handle himself.

Without socialization, these dogs tend to become more afraid and anxious over time. You might put yourself in their place. If you were that small, you might be anxious and shake, too!

One way to help a Chihuahua overcome his fear is to train and socialize him. This may involve physical and mental activities. Exercise can help the dog release nervous energy and feelings, leaving him calmer.

Chihuahuas need at least 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise a day. However, avoid overexercising these small dogs. They have fragile joints and bones that are easily injured.

6. Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia, is another common cause of Chihuahuas shaking. Dogs with this condition may be lethargic and shake quite a bit. If hypoglycemia is left untreated, it can lead to seizures and death in dogs.

While this may sound scary, the condition is easy to treat. You might consider feeding your Chi smaller meals throughout the day. Rather than two meals a day, you may consider spreading out the same amount of food across three to five meals a day.

However, it’s important not to lower the amount of food your Chihuahua receives. Make sure the right amount of food is properly spread throughout the day.

7. Old Age

Many older Chihuahuas shake or have tremors in their front or hind legs. However, most of the time, the dog is just fine. The best thing you can do in this situation is to have your fur baby checked by the vet. This is especially the case if your Chi needs to be in pain with tremors.

Certain Health Issues Can Also Make Chihuahuas Shake

8. Poisoning

When a Chihuahua becomes poisoned, he may shake quite a bit. The dog may start to shake all of a sudden and quite intensely.

Chihuahuas can be poisoned by certain foods such as raisins, chocolate, or other foods that are toxic to dogs. Other toxic substances can include nicotine in cigarette stubs, xylitol (a sugar substitute), and more. The dogs may also be poisoned by household chemicals such as cleaners, insecticides, or other chemicals. And even sprayed pesticides may cause the dog to become sick. If a Chihuahua licks a surface that’s been sprayed for pests, the dog’s small body quickly absorbs the toxins. The dog can become sick very quickly.

Your Chi may show the following symptoms if he’s been poisoned:

If your dog shows any of these symptoms, call the vet immediately. This is an emergency.

9. Kidney Disease

Another cause of shaking in Chihuahuas is kidney disease. These small dogs may also show other symptoms such as the following:

These are symptoms that mean it’s time to immediately call your vet. Your small dog needs treatment as soon as possible.

10. Internal Injury

Chihuahuas are small, fragile dogs that can be easily injured. They may be stepped on, dropped, or even attacked by larger dogs. While a dog may look OK on the outside, a Chihuahua may shake and tremble, or show other symptoms if they have an internal injury:

A Chihuahua with any symptoms needs to be seen by a vet ASAP. The dog needs to be checked for internal injuries and bleeding.

11. Allergies

Chihuahuas, just like other dogs, may suffer from allergies. A Chi with allergies may even shake! These small dogs may have an allergy to something in their environment, their food, and more. They may even have a combination of food and environmental allergies.

Allergic reactions in Chihuahuas may include shaking and the following symptoms:

A Chihuahua with these symptoms needs to be seen by the vet as soon as possible. Allergies can be life-threatening in some cases.

12. Nausea

Chihuahuas that are nauseous may also shake. They may have an upset stomach due to eating something they shouldn’t have, eating too much, and more. Liver and kidney disease can also cause these small dogs to be nauseated.

You may notice these symptoms if your Chi is nauseated:

If your dog has any of these symptoms, it’s time to call the vet. It’s possible your fur baby could have eaten something he shouldn’t have or eaten something poisonous. Of course, he could just have an upset stomach. But you just don’t know. So, it’s essential to call the vet for their recommendations on how to proceed.

13. Seizures

Chihuahuas may also suffer from certain neurological diseases that cause shaking or trembling. You may notice these symptoms if your Chihuahua is having a seizure:

If your fur baby has any of these symptoms, then do call the vet right away. The vet needs to figure out what’s causing the seizures and then find the right treatment. There are several medications that can help control seizures in dogs.

14. Distemper

Canine distemper can also cause shaking or trembling in dogs, including Chihuahuas. This can be a deadly disease that can affect both puppies and adult dogs, especially those who have not been vaccinated.

Symptoms of distemper can include:

Dogs with this condition must see the vet right away. The vet may try to cure the disease with antibiotics, physical therapy, and other treatments. This disease can be deadly, so don’t wait to see if your dog’s symptoms improve or get worse. Take them to the vet immediately.

Summing It Up

As you can see, there are many things that can cause a Chihuahua to shake. The key takeaway is to keep an eye on your dog and watch for any unusual symptoms he may be having. If he seems to shake or tremble a lot, then it’s time to call the vet. Your fur baby may just be completely fine; however, it’s important to find out.

Chihuahuas are small dogs that can quickly become very sick. So, if you’re at all concerned about your dog’s shaking, do call the vet. They can put your mind at ease or diagnose and treat your dog’s shaking.

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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