Why Chihuahuas Shake and Shiver

Chihuahuas are notorious for shaking and shiver more than other dogs. So much in fact that inexperienced owners oftentimes believe a more serious health issue is causing this behavior. As a result, they rush their little canines to the emergency vet only to discover that there's nothing wrong with them. So, what exactly causes Chihuahuas to shake and shiver? If you're curious to know why your Chihuahua acts this way, keep reading and we'll take a closer look into the Chihuahua's shaking behavior.

Chihuahuas In Snow

Two Chihuahuas Playing In Snow


One of the most common reasons why Chihuahuas shake and shiver is simply because they are cold. With an average weight of just 2-4 pounds, Chihuahuas are one of the smallest dog breeds and the world; therefore, they are more susceptible to the effects of cold weather. Just like the we instinctively shiver in cold temperatures, so do Chihuahuas. It's their way of speeding up the flow of blood throughout their body so they don't fall victim to hypothermia.

When the fall and winter seasons begin to roll around, you should think take notice of your Chihuahua's comfort level. They obviously don't have the ability to speak and let you know when they are cold, so it's up to you to watch their body language. If your Chihuahua shakes and shivers in the morning, evening or when they go outside, then it's likely a result of them being cold. You can stop this behavior by warming them up and offering some thermal protection against the biting cold temperatures.

Here are some things you can do to keep your Chihuahua warm and prevent them from shivering:

  • Dress them up in a sweater, hoodie or thick shirt.
  • Place a space heater a couple feet away in front of their bed (never leave it running unattended).
  • If you let your Chihuahua outside when it's raining, dry them off before letting them inside the house.
  • Place additional blankets and bedding material in your Chihuahua's crate.
  • Hold your Chihuahua up against your chest or in your arms when you are traveling to provide extra warmth.
  • Crank up the thermostat inside your home to a warmer, more comfortable temperature.
Anxious Chihuahua

Anxious Chihuahua

Anxious / Frightened

Like many other small dogs, Chihuahuas tend to shake and shiver when they are anxious or frightened. Some owners don't give their Chihuahua's credit for being as smart as they really are. When a young Chi pup sneaks off into another room of the house to use the bathroom, you might find them hiding in their crate shivering uncontrollably. This is because they know they weren't supposed to use the bathroom inside, so they are anxious and nervous of your reaction. Even if you don't physically punish your Chihuahua (you NEVER should), just the stern sound of your voice telling them no is enough to draw a shaking and shivering reaction from them.

Chihuahuas may also shake when larger, more menacing dogs are nearby. If they aren't used to being around this new dog, they will naturally be frightened and somewhat standoffish. This is usually typical behavior, but I recommend keeping your Chihuahua separated from any larger dogs they aren't familiar with. Shaking is a sign they are frightened, and this could lead to them lashing out if they feel threatened or backed in a corner. Just to be on the safe side, place your Chihuahua in a different area of the house if they are shaking and a new dog is around.


Chihuahuas also shake when they are excited can no longer hold it in. After you've given them some milk bones out of the treat jar, they will probably be shaking and dancing anytime you get near the treats. This type of excitement is a good thing and doesn't require any special treatment or attention from the owner. In fact, it's actually kind of amusing to see your Chihuahua so happy and excited from something as simple as a treat. Just remember to only give them treats in moderation; otherwise you run the risk of them growing overweight and obese.

Personally, all three of my Chihuahua shake from excitement when they think there's a chance of them going for a car ride. For whatever the reason, they LOVE going for rides in the car, even if it's just to the gas station or fast food drive-through. When they see me grab the car keys, they will start running around and shaking uncontrollably. If I say the words "car ride" to them, it's all over and they will force me to take them!

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

It's estimated that as many as 10% of the Chihuahua population suffers from hypoglycemia, making it a common health problem associated with the breed. Some of the symptoms presented from it include lethargy, lack of energy and shaking uncontrollably. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to seizures and even death. Thankfully, however, it's fairly easy to treat. The key is to spread your Chihuahua's meals out through the day. If you are only feeding them 1 or 2 large meals, try giving them 4-5 smaller meals with the same amount of food. You can also keep a dropper full of sugar water with you in case of emergency. When your Chihuahua begins to exhibit symptoms of hypoglycemia, just squirt a small amount of sugar water down their throat.

Chihuahua Eating a New Treat

Chihuahua Eating a New Treat

Allergic Reaction

Lastly, your Chihuahua's shaking and shivering could be the result of an allergic reaction. Have you noticed this behavior after feeding them a new type of food or treat? If so, you'll want to stop giving it to them immediately and closely monitor their situation. If they don't stop shaking or other symptoms begin to manifest, call the vet for professional advice. Allergic reactions are something that you don't want to mess around with. In most cases, they will go away on their own, but some of the more severe cases can bring life-threatening complications.

Just like we can have allergy tests performed, so can Chihuahuas and other dogs. If you believe your Chihuahua is suffering from allergies but can't pinpoint its exact origin, this might be a smart option to take. Talk to your vet about the pros and cons of performing an allergy test to determine whether or not it would prove beneficial.




20 Responses to “Why Chihuahuas Shake and Shiver”

  1. Phyllis says:

    I have a chiweenie named Jaxson and he shakes sometimes. He if fully housebroken, but will shake when my full blooded daschund, Kallie, leave messes in the house. When he shakes I go looking for presents to clean up.

  2. Gino says:

    we just got a rescue she is 5 smart and crazy fun she shivers off and on randomly think shes just adjusting she pays like nuts and she knows shes safe here so it might be its colder then shes use too we have some nice sweaters and jackets for her whats the normal temp they seem comfortable in ??

  3. Jenni says:

    My son’s Chi goes to a person with a rather concerned look on his face, if the person coughs or sneezes, he then shivers for about five minutes or so, while he’s being stroked and reassured. He came from the RSPCA when he was six (he’s now ten) I have a feeling that, possibly his previous owner (who died) had a cough.

  4. Juliana Morimba says:

    Roxy my chi loves games very much and is
    used to sleeping on my bed. She’s cute through she shivers a lot and abruptly.Sometimes i feel she shivers too much and gives me a scare.

  5. S Dance says:

    My Chi, Lily shivers for all kinds of reasons. Needing to go to the bathroom (outside), wanting a treat, getting a treat, afraid during a thunderstorm, going for a car ride, she can even tell the sound of my daughter ‘s car (it’s not loud, humans can’t hear it from inside), recognizing where we’re going in the car, too cold, excited, and a dozen other reasons. Thank goodness all of these issues don’t happen every day or she’d shiver all the time. Mostly it’s needing to go out, being chilly, or about to get a treat. Surprisingly enough she never does it while I clip her nails and I know she doesn’t particularity like that.

  6. amanda says:

    i have a chihuaha and he doesnt want to get out of hi bed and everytime he sees me he goes up to me and and cuddles up but i can feel him shaking he also has jis tail down.This has been happening for a couple of days.do i need to take him to a vet?

  7. The Chihuahua shiver is perfectly normal, as is the wheezing to which you refer.
    As for the former, it’s mainly due to excess energy this breed is known for.
    The wheezing is a similar sort of involuntary response to excess stimuli. If these traits bother you, keeping the dog away from excess excitement is your best bet.

  8. Leslie says:

    What are the symptoms for hypoglycemia. I’m afraid my chi might have this please help. Thanks

  9. Cindy says:

    I just got my pup. And she is shaking alot. My room is like hot & cold . (mild) we just got her. I dont have anything for her. Only a box, 3 small thin blankets for now. Im scared she might die or somthing PLEASEE HELP.

  10. Ariel says:


    • Brenda says:

      Hey Angelica,

      My Chi also does that wheezing when she gets excited. I just hold her or try to comfort her and it goes away. I don’t worry about it, because the wheezing doesn’t last that long and goes away with comfort. I guess this is just part of their nature…? Just wanted to say you are not alone. 🙂 Best wishes!!! Happy holidays!!!

  11. Angelica says:

    My chihuahua rarely shakes but what a I am worried about is her wheezing. I can tell that she has spring allergies by the way that she sneezes and scratches in the Spring. Yet, she also makes this kind of snort/sniffle when she gets overwhelmed or eats to quickly. I don’t really see this as a health problem (because it has gone on for a while). She has a clear and healthy backstory so I don’t understand why my Chi’ tends to do this so often. We try and calm her down when she is in the wheezing process, it sort of helps(sometimes) Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t occur very often, but when it does, I can’t help but feel worried for my poor companion. Please respond if you can relate or have knowledge prior to my situation! Thank you! – Angelica Illingworth 6/17/14

    • Nora says:

      Hey there my dog gets he’s wheezing attacks and in spring they get really bad I think he suffers pollen allergy to rapeseed as these pollen are particularly aggressive. It gets so bad I can barely go for a walk with him… Now as I moved location where there is no pollen of rapeseed he barely has wheezing attacks. X

  12. Sara says:

    I have a puppy her name is Brinkley she shakes a lot and how should I stop it please help me

  13. Sandi says:

    Sammy is a chi that was abused as a baby ,so i have to give him extra love,assurance,which i love but this is my first dog and I’m also looking up on him,i think he’s suffering from dry skin he has white flakes and shakes alot,could it be the shampoo I’m useing?I’m not sure and also he’s developed a small scab on his tail bone,I’ve been checking it clean it with peroxidet,nothing came out but a little blood,last night i applied iodine,to the touch it doesn’t hurt him,i believe he’s has dry skin
    what do i do for this?please help , open to suggesting,thank you fro sammy n sandi,otherwise he’s happiest in my lap or arms.

    • Lissy says:

      My chi’s also have problems with dry skin and occasionally fleas, to treat both I bathe the dogs using dawn dishsoap 2-3 times in the tub always using the bath hose and then dry them off real good and I use baby oil and massage it in their coats real good, the oil smothers the fleas and soothes their dry skin

  14. Kristie says:

    My Chi will shake until she starts panting. Is this dangerous to her?

  15. Nancy Bergen says:

    My Cherie bites I think cause he’s teething. Also, he likes to pee on my bed. This has become a problem.

    • Karen says:

      If you taught him to sleep with you on your bed instead of sleeping on his own, he probably thinks it is now his domain

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