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.
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 / 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.
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.