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.




54 Responses to “Why Chihuahuas Shake and Shiver”

  1. judy says:

    my little one shakes hard..(not cold chiver) just shakes from head to toe..especially if he is sleeping with me and getting out of the covers or out of his kennel. I know he is spoiled..wants to be held all the time..

  2. Susan Seaton says:

    My chihuahuas is scared to ride. She hits the floor board and stays there till we stop. Someone help to help her cause i dont no what to do. And i hate to see her this way.

  3. skyler says:

    one of my other dogs jumped onto my chihuahua and he has been acting so weird such as going under beds, moving around a lot, wheezing, and trembling we don’t know what’s wrong with him.

  4. Katie says:

    My mom’s dog is 11.5 lb Chihuahua who constantly shakes for no apparent reason Hes been to the vet and there is nothing wrong! He also loves to eat my cats poop

  5. Nancy says:

    I have a Chihuahua and i don’t know whats wrong with her yesterday she was doing good but this morning all she want’s to do lay in the bed i really worry about her

  6. Joe says:

    You kinda forgot something, it’s talking, when I ask my Chi, Turbo if he wants to get food or water, (he knows the command to go to food bowl)he shivers for some weird reason, can someone help?

  7. Victoria says:

    One thing I didn’t see mentioned was pain! My little guy broke his toenail and was in pain. He wouldn’t stop shivering and refusing food so I took him to the vet. They had to remove his toe nail. 🙁

  8. Terra says:

    An inexpensive and quick addition to a chihuahua’s sweaters and jackets is to take an old pair of long johns, thermals, (whatever you call them ) or long underwear and cut them the bottom of the leg up high enough to make a good length to cover the belly really well and cut small holes toward the front for leg holes. The tummy and chest regions were a little big so I sewed it up a bit for a more snug fit. You can also put Velcro on or in a pinch use safety pins to tighten it up. I also used both legs for added warmth putting them on in layers here where temps are below zero. Nothing wrong with thermals I say, even on a little chihuahua lol.

  9. Bogus Fogus says:

    My dog hates other people. He only goes to them if he feels harmed my someone near. He is a chihuahua, 6 pounds, shakes all the time. Message me if you want him! Jk. Never will I ever get rid of my honest to goodness beat friend ❤️🐶

  10. Kim says:

    My Chihuahua mix shakes when there is a fly in the house.

  11. Adrena says:

    MY CHIHUAHUA princes RECENTLY GAVE BIRTH 4 days ago and has one pup peaches and they sleep in a kennel on a blanket and my chihuahua princess (mom) is always shaking but is always hot and I’m not sure why because she pays attention to the pup and feeds her but she never used to shake during pregnancy or any time before that so I need someone to help me figure out what’s going on

  12. will says:

    My chihuahua had a shaking that turned into a seizure boy that was scary

  13. Melanie Frishkorn says:

    I read somewhere, I can’t remember when or where but, the shivering is a survival instinct. Being so small and vulnerable they have learned that humans will, feel sorry for them and hold them, protect them. Pretty cute tactic if you ask me.

  14. Tina says:

    My chihuahua is 3 years old and he shakes when he knows im getting ready to leave the house for any reason and he will also cry and when he thinks its time for me to come home he will watch the door… I love him to pieces

  15. Kathy says:

    My chi has a really bad skin rash on his back and itches like crazy sometimes scratching so hard it’s raw and his hair falls out. He has been on 2 different meds to control it but it’s not working anymore. Does anyone else have this problem

  16. Jennifer Lynn Schillig says:

    Reminds me of a Warner Brothers cartoon that showed us various dog breeds. The narrator explained that the Chihuahua wasn’t shivering because he was cold–he was just nervous. The Chihuahua replied (in Mel Blanc’s Speedy Gonzalez voice), “I don’t care what you say, Senor…I am freezing!”

  17. 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.

  18. Anna says:

    My dog sneezes alot and she shivers alot too. I think she’s sick, should I take her to the vet? Also she’s like 5 months old and she is a chihuahua.

  19. 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 ??

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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?

    • Jenn says:

      Yes. Take him to the vet. My chi did that when she started to get sick. Its the “feeling sorry for myself” look. Could be an upset tummy or pain. Theycan’t speak but they do tell us a lot with body language. I hope your chi is ok

  24. Shari Woodson says:

    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.

  25. Leslie says:

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

  26. 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.

    • Nevaeh says:

      If she is a newborn you need her to comfrey the chihuahua and get her used to ur home just a little of advice of mine.

    • Barbara Mcintosh says:

      My chihuahua poops at least six times a day is this normal. It is not diarrhea. My ex once told me, which I never forgot that little dogs are little popping machines. This was before I got my chi. I found this to me very true anyone else experience this?

  27. 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!!!

      • Chloe says:

        It helps to wrap your chihuahua in a blanket or a small pillow case even cause it makes them feel more secure and it keeps them worm whenever I put my chi in a blanket he stops shaking and just falls asleep

    • Lmcttmab says:

      I put a heating pad on my couch, then my pups bed on top of it then her blanket on top of that. I turn on the heating pad (ONLY when im home & ONLY on the lowest setting) my Chi (BeanBean) will get into her bed when she starts to shiver. She loves it

  28. 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

    • Kelsey says:

      My chihuahua wheezes a lot when she’s excited; usually when we’re anout to go on a car ride. I looked it up and someone said to gently massage their throat in a clockwise motion. I do it every time she has a wheezing attack now and I think it does seem to help a lot.

    • 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

    • Lmcttmab says:

      Both my Chi’s do this same snort/wheezing thing. I’ve been told by plenty it’s an ” inverted sneeze “, but i KNOW thats NOT what it is. Then i read somewhere about a “trachea collapse” & im pretty sure thats what it is…………you should look it up & see if your dog sounds the same.

      • Gary says:

        My little Chi Tinkerbell does this, it’s like a wheezing and choking causing her real problems breathing, how I deal with it is by cupping my hand over her nose and mouth, while doing this I praise her and it calms het right down with breathing returning to Norma, works a treat, it’s basically the same as having a human breath into a paper bag when they have problems such as panick attacks

  29. Sara says:

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

  30. 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

  31. Kristie says:

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

  32. 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.

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