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Why Do Chihuahuas Shake? What You Need To Know About The Chihuahua Shivers - PawSafe

Why Do Chihuahuas Shake? What You Need To Know About The Chihuahua Shivers

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

why do chihuahuas shake

Chihuahuas are well-known not only for their small stature but also for their constant shivering, but why do Chihuahuas shake? For new Chihuahua dog owners, this can be alarming to see in your dog, especially if you’re unfamiliar with it.

Of course, some Chihauhaus can have a nervous disposition and benefit from products like a dog bed to soothe anxious dogs. But don’t worry! Chihuahuas shake for various reasons, including high metabolisms, excess energy, and difficulty regulating temperature.

So let’s look into the causes of these sassy micro-divas’ tendency to tremor.

Of course, it is more complicated that that, so let’s look closer.

15 Common Reasons Why Chihuahuas Shake

There is nothing more adorable than a tiny Chihuahua shaking in your lap. But it can be hard to tell if your pup is just being her normal wiggly self or if there’s something wrong with her. If you’ve ever wondered why your Chihuahua is shaking or trembling, here’s a list of common reasons:

1. Blood Sugar

Shaking is a symptom of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This disease primarily affects toy and small-breed dogs and young puppies.

A sudden shift in blood chemistry can cause shaking. Often, a dog experiencing this kind of spike in blood sugar must act quickly to stabilize their levels. They’ll shiver to produce heat and burn the excess sugar off their body.

Preventing hypoglycemia in your dog can be as simple as maintaining a regular feeding schedule of multiple daily small meals and giving your dog a healthy, well-balanced diet.

2. Temperature Regulation

Chihuahuas are small dogs, and their small size makes them more susceptible to both hot and cold temperatures. Shaking is a natural way that dogs regulate their temperature. When your Chihuahua starts to shiver, it’s because they’re cold, and its body is trying to warm itself up by generating heat.

If you see your Chihuahua shaking, try to help him by providing him with a warm blanket or towel. Additionally, if you live in an area that gets very cold outside, you can keep them inside during the cold winter months.

3. Anxiety and Fear (Genetic Predisposition)

Chihuahuas are susceptible to psychological problems, as they tend to be more sensitive than other breeds. In addition, some behavioral issues are genetic, so if you have an anxious or fearful Chihuahua, likely, his parents were also anxious or fearful.

These issues are often exacerbated by poor socialization during puppyhood, as owners often don’t take Chihuahuas to socialization classes because of their small size. This creates a tendency toward anxious behaviors in the breed.

4. Kidney Disease

If your Chihuahua is shaking, it’s important to be aware of the possibility of kidney disease. This is a common cause of shaking in small dogs, often going undetected until severe symptoms occur.

If you notice that your dog has slowed down or lost weight, he may be suffering from kidney disease. In addition, kidney disease can cause your dog to have increased thirst, frequent urination, and vomiting episodes. They may also be peeing in their sleep.

5. Excitement

Chihuahuas are very excitable dogs, so it’s common for them to shake when excited. They’re a high-energy breed that gets excited about everything from seeing their owner to going for a walk to smelling another dog. Additionally, you may notice this, especially when you’re training your Chihuahua or giving it affection.

6. Generalized Tremor Syndrome

Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS) is a genetic disorder that causes the Chihuahua to shake. This condition, which causes the dog to shake all over, was initially observed in toy white terriers, but it has since been observed in dogs of all sizes and colors. The root cause of this syndrome has not yet been identified.

This condition can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can be confused with other conditions, such as hypothyroidism, epilepsy, or narcolepsy. A veterinarian will often perform a series of tests to rule out these other illnesses or conditions before settling on GTS as the cause for your Chihuahua’s shaking or tremors.

7. Separation Anxiety & Noise Phobia

Separation anxiety can be a common cause of shaking. When a dog experiences separation anxiety, it may become extremely stressed when you leave the house and sometimes become so distressed that it shakes. This is more common with Chihuahuas because small dogs rely on their owners for comfort and companionship.

Chihuahuas can also be affected by noise phobia, a fear of loud noises such as thunder or fireworks. A dog with this kind of phobia may become frightened and shake. Additionally, if you notice your puppy breathing fast, they may be in distress due to their noise phobia.

8. Nausea

When Chihuahuas become ill, they often exhibit shaking. This can happen after consuming food or drink, or it can be a symptom of something more serious.

Nausea is a common sign of illness in dogs. Many different things, including parasites, worms, food allergies, and food sensitivities, cause it. It’s crucial to know the cause of your Chihuahua’s nausea so that you can treat the problem.

Also, if your Chihuahua shakes after eating, you may want to consider changing his diet. Many foods that are healthy for humans can make dogs sick, so make sure you are feeding them the best food possible. If your Chihuahua continues to feel nauseous despite changing his diet, he may have an underlying health issue that a veterinarian can address.

9. Distemper

Distemper is a viral disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Fortunately, it is treatable if detected early. The symptoms of distemper include fever, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, and shaking. If you see any of these symptoms in your Chihuahua, make sure to take him or her to the vet immediately.

If your Chihuahua is shaking due to distemper or other causes, take steps to keep him or her safe and calm using a calming bed for dogs until you can get them to the vet for treatment.

10. Inflammatory Brain Diseases

Inflammatory brain diseases, such as meningitis and encephalitis, can cause shaking in dogs. This is because the inflammation causes the brain to swell, which compresses the brain stem, causing your dog to shake.

While rare and not always fatal, these conditions are serious and require immediate veterinary care. The sooner you take your dog in for treatment, the better his chance of recovering from this condition. Treatment for this type of condition requires antibiotics and steroids to reduce inflammation and a surgical procedure if necessary.

11. Seizures (Hydrocephalus, Liver Shunts, Epilepsy, etc.)

Shaking can be a sign of a seizure. Chihuahuas are susceptible to seizures, especially if they have hydrocephalus, liver shunts, or epilepsy. Seizures are often accompanied by loss of consciousness, but some dogs experience only shaking without loss of consciousness.

If your Chihuahua is having a seizure, you should keep him safe from injury and call your vet immediately.

12. Poisoning

When a Chihuahua shakes suddenly more than usual, it may be due to poisoning. Dogs can experience shaking, tremors, convulsions, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death if they ingest a small amount of chocolate, mosquito repellents, alcoholic beverages, cigarette butts, xylitol, sorbitol, or rat poison.

They may also have seizures if they get too high a dose of certain tick and flea treatments.

Please consult your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately if you suspect your dog has ingested any of the items that are poisonous to dogs.

13. Internal Injury & Pain

When describing a distressed dog, shivering and trembling are often used interchangeably with shaking. Certain miniature and toy terriers are more susceptible to pain than others.

Period cramps are also a common reason for shaking in Chihuahuas. If you’re wondering, do dogs get period cramps? Periods can cause uterine contractions, which can cause pain and discomfort for your pup.

14. Old Age

Chihuahuas can begin to shake or tremble as they age. This is a normal aging process, especially for small dogs.

The shaking usually begins when the dog reaches about 10 years old and often worsens over time. The dog may also have trouble keeping his balance, especially if he has been outside in cold weather for long periods.

Comforting and calming your aging Chihuahua is the best thing you can do for him. Make sure he has a calming bed for dogs and plenty of room to move around, and don’t let him get too cold or hot.

15. Ear Infection (Head Shaking)

Head shaking is a common sign of an ear infection (otitis), which bacteria, yeast, or other microbes can cause. Otitis is characterized by severe itching, ear discharge, and inflammation. An unpleasant odor may accompany the sight of redness, swelling, or discharge in your dog’s ears.

Ear infections are painful, and the dog shakes his head to relieve the pain. When a dog has an ear infection, they’ll also experience pain that causes them to shake their head and paw at their ears. They may also have trouble sleeping because of the pain they’re experiencing.

Why Is My Chihuahua Shaking More Than Usual?

Chihuahuas are a very active breed of dog, which means they can get excited or overstimulated from time to time. This can lead to shaking, a common sign of anxiety in dogs.

Furthermore, chihuahuas shake for various reasons, including cold weather and stress. The most common reason is when they’re excited about something! If your Chihuahua is showing other symptoms such as vomiting, seizures, change in behavior, or seeing your puppy breathing fast, it’s time to take them to the vet.

Common Shaking Myths

Chihuahuas aren’t the only dog breeds that exhibit shaking. The sight of your Chihuahua shaking may be alarming, but we’ve debunked some more pervasive myths about this phenomenon to help you understand what’s happening.

Myth # 1: There is Something Wrong with My Chihuahua if They’re Shaking.

Shaking is a natural reaction for most Chihuahuas, especially when they’re excited, nervous, or have too much energy. If your Chihuahua shakes often, there’s no need to worry. It’s not harmful and won’t cause any long-term problems.

Shaking is a good thing because it helps release excess energy from the body. This can help prevent your dog from becoming overweight or obese and prevent them from getting injured from having too much energy stored inside their bodies.

Myth # 2 It’s Uncommon for Chihuahuas to Shake.

Shaking is common in Chihuahuas, especially because they naturally have a high metabolism. Additionally, most dogs will naturally shake for various reasons. However, if your dog shakes a lot more than expected, and it’s not because of something like excitement or anxiety, it may be a sign of something else.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Do Chihuahuas Squint?

Chihuahuas squint their eyes for several reasons. First, they are a breed known to be very affectionate and loyal, so it’s not uncommon for them to squint when they are around their owners and other dogs. This is a way for the dog to communicate its love and loyalty to the owner or other pet.

Squinting can also indicate irritation caused by dust or pollen in the air. It’s also a way for dogs to protect their eyes from direct sunlight or even bright lights that might hurt their vision. Finally, it can indicate pain or discomfort in your pet’s eye if it has an eye infection or a foreign object lodged there.

Why Do Chihuahuas Bark So Much?

Dogs bark for many reasons, but in general, it’s because they are trying to communicate with their humans or other animals. They may be saying, “I’m here” or “let’s play,” or they may warn about something dangerous nearby.

Chihuahuas are often considered good dogs for apartment owners because they’re small and don’t need much space. But they are also notoriously vocal, making them ill-suited to living in close quarters with other people.

Why Do Chihuahuas Burrow?

Despite their outgoing nature, Chihuahuas will occasionally seek refuge under the covers. All dogs have the “denning” instinct, the desire to seek refuge in small, cozy places.

This survival technique developed over time when dogs were wild and had to hide from predators in burrows or other small spaces. Nowadays, your Chihuahua may be seeking this feeling out because it’s comforting or because they’re stressed out by something in their environment.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many reasons that Chihuahuas shake. Due to their small size, they often have issues with low blood sugar or cold temperatures. They also have high metabolisms and are known for being very sensitive dogs that can easily develop anxiety issues that may lead to shaking.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.