Like people, chihuahuas experience anxiety too. Although being anxious can be unpleasant, it’s a healthy emotion. But if you leave high anxiety levels untreated, your chi may develop an anxiety disorder. So, as a chi owner, you’re likely wondering how to calm chihuahua anxiety.
I’m here to explain all you must know about chihuahua anxiety, including causes, symptoms, preventions, and most importantly, how to calm your anxious chihuahua down! See which technique works for your chihuahua.
What Causes Anxiety in a Chihuahua?
Chihuahua anxiety can have various causes. But the most common ones are fear, aging, and separation:
Fear-related Chihuahua Anxiety
This branch of chihuahua anxiety can happen due to many things, such as loud noises or scary people. And these can come from different scenarios. For example, your chi can become anxious after hearing fireworks for the first time. Or when your chihuahua meets a stranger while on a walk. Although most dogs only react quickly to these scenarios, these can affect chihuahuas more.
Age-related Anxiety in Chihuahuas
Age-related chihuahua anxiety affects senior chihuahuas, usually those at double digits. Although it varies per dog, many experts associate age-related anxiousness with cognitive dysfunction syndrome. This condition forces a chihuahua’s memory, perception, and awareness to decline. Like Alzheimer’s disease in people, this can lead to confusion and anxiety in chihuahuas.
Finally, the most common cause of anxiety in chihuahuas is separation. Like most dogs, chihuahuas are fiercely loyal and protective of their owners. So, it’s understandable that they may panic whenever they’re apart from their humans. And as touching as it is, it can be depressing to your chihuahua.
Separation anxiety forces your chihuahua to feel nervous whenever you’re away. As a result, your chi won’t be able to find comfort when you separate from them. And unfortunately, an anxious chihuahua will be the least of your worries. After all, separation anxiety can manifest into destructive behaviors like peeing and defecating indoors. So, be proactive if you don’t want to deal with a possibly violent and anxious chihuahua.
How to Tell if My Chihuahua is Anxious?
Before delving into how to calm chihuahua anxiety, it pays to know the early signs and symptoms. Telling if your dog is anxious lets you discover the best solutions to help your chihuahua ASAP.
Here are the crucial chihuahua anxiety symptoms to check:
⚠️ Direct or Indirect Aggression
The most dangerous anxiety symptom in chihuahuas is a sudden onset of aggression. Your chihuahua can manifest this directly or indirectly, depending on the scenario. Direct aggression happens when chihuahuas vent out toward others. And this is often the more dangerous symptom out of the two.
Meanwhile, indirect aggression occurs when someone comes between your chi and its source of anger. And though less harmful than the first symptom, it can be as dangerous, especially if you have other pets.
Although you can stop your chihuahua from harming others, aggressive habits like growling or barking can harm your chi and yourself! These can cause undesirable scenarios for the owner and chihuahua alike.
⚠️ Constant Pacing or Shaking
Although chihuahuas are notorious for being shaky dogs, constant pacing and shaking aren’t typical for this breed. And this is especially worrying if your chihuahua starts pacing and shaking during or after a stressful event.
For instance, chihuahuas commonly get stressed whenever visiting the vet. And you may notice that most chis like “shaking” the tension off at the vet. And, like humans, chihuahuas also tend to pace around whenever agitated. So, you may see your chi walking repeated paths around the vet’s exam room while waiting.
⚠️ Excess Panting
Panting is a standard behavior among chihuahuas. And these are especially prevalent during hotter days. But if your chihuahua isn’t doing anything exerting and is under a cool shade, it might be stress! The symptom can also be an early sign of anxiety in chihuahuas.
⚠️ Sudden Barking or Whining
Chihuahuas are famous for being loud barkers. They like to vocalize themselves through their voice. But if your chihuahua suddenly barks or whines out of nowhere, it might be under stress. Your chihuahua might’ve gotten scared or anxious when you left to get something to eat. Either way, anxious chihuahuas like to intensely bark or whine to get their owner’s attention or soothe themselves.
⚠️ Excess Yawning, Drooling, and Licking
Chihuahuas tend to yawn more than usual whenever they get stressed or anxious. You can distinguish if your chi is yawning due to anxiety by checking its intensity and how long it lasts. If not, your chihuahua might only be facing boredom or tiredness. Aside from that, your chihuahua may also start drooling or licking immensely.
⚠️ Dilated or Wide Eyes and Relaxed or Alert Ears
Anxious chihuahuas may display dilated pupils and wide eyes. They tend to show more of their sclera (white part of the eye) whenever they’re nervous. Aside from that, your chihuahua may also pin its ears back, showing an alert state.
⚠️ A Change in Body Posture and Functions
Like any other dog, a chihuahua bears its weight on all legs. If your chihuahua, which is healthy and has no preexisting bone issues, shifts its weight into its hind legs, it might be anxious. Moreover, your nervous chihuahua may also tuck its tail between its rear legs. Aside from that, a simple rigidness in the body can signify chihuahua anxiety.
Posture aside, a chihuahua may show bodily function changes when anxious. Like us, chihuahuas with anxiety can also feel the urge to go pee or poop. So, your chi might be anxious whenever it urinates after meeting new animals or people. Or at least is reacting to the strain while marking its territory.
Another bodily function change you must pay attention to in your chihuahua is appetite loss and loose bowel functions. These can indicate extreme stress and anxiety.
⚠️ Excess Shedding
Although they don’t have much to shed, some chihuahuas shed a lot whenever anxious. Please pay attention to this symptom as it’s not very noticeable, especially when outdoors! Some chihuahuas display shedding when at the vet or dog park.
⚠️ Urinating and Defecating Excessively
Excess urinating and defecating indoors is a sign of separation anxiety in chihuahuas. Anxious chihuahuas work themselves up so much whenever they feel anxious. And they do this so much to the point where they urinate or defecate indoors, even if they’re housebroken!
⚠️ Destructive Behavior
Another symptom to look out for in chihuahuas with anxiety is destructive behavior. You should be able to find the damage near your home’s entry and exit points. These include doors and windows. But aside from your property, an anxious chihuahua may also end up harming itself. Heightened anxiety forces your chi to do things they wouldn’t normally do.
⚠️ Your Chihuahua Starts Avoiding or Hiding From You
If your chihuahua starts avoiding or hiding from you, it might have anxiety. And if unable to run away from you, your chihuahua may distract itself. Although this can be disheartening, it’s better than dealing with a rambunctious chihuahua.
Aside from hiding and avoiding, some anxious chis move behind their humans to hide. Sometimes, these tiny dogs may also nudge their owners to follow them. These can be dangerous, especially when dealing with an anxious chihuahua.
A few of these signs and symptoms can come from seldom anxiety-causing situations. Still, any of them can reoccur and result in more severe problems.
How to Calm Chihuahua Anxiety?
Now you know how to spot anxious chihuahuas; here’s how to calm chihuahua anxiety:
😌 Train Your Anxious Chihuahua
Training chihuahuas is one of the most foolproof ways to calm down their anxiety. One of these methods is counterconditioning. This technique helps change your chihuahua’s response to the triggers behind their fear. Usually, it involves replacing your chi’s anxiousness with more positive behaviors like sitting.
Another training method for chihuahua anxiety to explore is desensitization. It’s a more direct technique that involves dealing with the trigger of your chi’s fears. For instance, if your chi gets triggered when you grab your car keys to go out, do the same but come back a few seconds later. Doing this several times over time should desensitize your chihuahua from the action.
You’ll see how fast your chi will become desensitized and bored by the past trigger. Although it can be challenging to commit, it’s worth every second! After all, unlike counterconditioning, desensitization helps your chihuahua overcome its fear!
I recommend discussing your chihuahua’s case with an expert dog trainer to help you discover the best approach. After all, training an anxious chihuahua can be challenging!
😌 Exercise Your Chihuahua
Since you can’t always be by your chihuahua’s side, exercising with them is a fun bonding activity. Because heightened anxiety can cause an energy spike, playing or taking your chi for a walk can help. Simultaneously physical contact and talking to your chihuahua are also helpful!
Aside from bonding with your chihuahua, exercising can help with their anxiety by boosting the production of the happy hormone endorphins. It can help relieve anxiousness and stress in chihuahuas.
😌 Be Physical
As mentioned earlier, physical contact can do wonders for your anxious chihuahua. After all, there’s nothing more relaxing to a nervous chihuahua than its owner’s presence. Whether cuddling with your chi on the couch or giving them a lengthy petting session, these are excellent for relieving stress and anxiety.
😌 Give Your Chihuahua Something to Chew On for Anxiety
If you can’t spare much time for your chihuahua due to work or school, give them something to chew on! Mentally stimulating dog toys make for excellent distractions for chihuahuas with anxiety. Whether buying chew toys or healthy dental chews for chihuahuas, these can calm your anxious chi in no time.
After all, each bite from these chew toys offers various sensory textures and sounds. So, they cannot only calm your chihuahua but also give your chi hours of entertainment! Please take advantage of it and reward your chihuahua for good behavior despite going through a stressful situation.
In short, chew toys can reframe your chihuahua’s behavior long-term!
😌 Invest in Calming Coats, T-Shirts, or Harnesses
Besides chew toys, calming garments are also excellent investments for a chihuahua with anxiety. These apply mild and constant pressure to your chihuahua’s torso, calming them down. Although you can let your chihuahua wear these anywhere, it works best for traveling. Specifically, these are best for chihuahuas with noise, people, or separation anxiety.
😌 Give Your Chihuahua a Massage or Acupuncture Treatment
Only a few know this, but giving a relaxing massage can calm down even the most anxious chihuahuas! After all, anxiety causes a chihuahua’s muscles to stiffen and tense up. So, it only makes sense that massage therapy can remove tension and stiffness, making your chi calmer. I recommend starting at your chihuahua’s neck and working down its torso with extended strokes.
Although it can be awkward at first, you should be able to determine where your chihuahua holds its anxiousness over time. And at that point, you only need to focus on that area.
If the massage therapy doesn’t work, consider booking your chihuahua for acupuncture treatment. It’s a proven treatment plan for chihuahuas with anxiety and other pets. But this method can get expensive fast! After all, your chihuahua needs to do it often, with some owners bringing their chis for weekly treatments.
😌 Invest in Anxiety Medications for Chihuahuas
If your chihuahua is dealing with severe anxiety, it’s time to resort to medication. Most vets prescribe anti-depressants like Prozac to chis with chronic stress. Aside from that, some vets suggest stronger SSRIs like fluoxetine and clomipramine. But as efficient as these are, they aren’t the best long-term. I only recommend medications if your chi can’t calm down with non-pharmaceutical strategies.
For better insight, here are some of the specific medications vets provide for chihuahuas with anxiety:
- Benzodiazepine. Vets recommend this drug for chihuahuas suffering from fear-related anxiety. So, this is the best pick if your chi doesn’t like fireworks, traveling, or storms.
- Selegiline. Vets suggest this medication for chis with chronic anxiety or senior chihuahuas experiencing cognitive decline.
Some medications work best alongside other therapies, and it can be tricky to determine what’s ideal for your chihuahua. So, to get the proper remedy for your chi, you must talk to your vet first!
😌 Use CBD Oil to Calm Chihuahua Anxiety
Although many consider it a gimmick, CBD oil can help chihuahuas with anxiety. Albeit temporarily. CBD oil consists of compounds present in cannabis and hemp. And many dog owners claim these to be very helpful for their chihuahua’s anxiety.
But there hasn’t been a proper study to back the effects of CBD oil for anxiety treatment in chihuahuas. And no scientific data shows how CBD oil affects dogs in general. So, consult a vet if you’re considering using it to treat your anxious chihuahua!
😌 Give Your Anxious Chihuahua Time-Out
Isolating your chihuahua in a quiet and safe area can calm its anxiousness and frayed nerves. You can add to the place’s ambiance by playing soft music in the background or turning on your lights but keeping them dim. If not possible, place your chihuahua in a crate. It’s a private and peaceful spot that can provide your chi with some solace.
But be sure to have it open not to scare your chihuahua and allow them to roam in and out of the crate.
😌 Give Your Chihuahua a Schedule to Calm Anxiety
Creating and maintaining a schedule for your chihuahua can give it a sense of security. As a result, familiarity can help ease your chi’s anxiety. But you don’t have to force your chihuahua to stick to a strict routine. Instead, you can feed, walk, and play with your chihuahua in similar timeframes. Doing so lets your chihuahua know what to expect during the day, reducing the anxiousness that might come from uncertainty.
😌 Use Your Scent and Sound to Calm Chihuahua Anxiety
As mentioned earlier, anxious chihuahuas often prefer to be near their human owners. And what better way to calm chihuahua anxiety than using your scent and sound? As surprising as it seems, using your natural smell and voice can help your chihuahua relax for a long time. And sometimes, it can even help your chi beat anxiety entirely!
There are many ways to leave your scent or voice behind at home. For example, you can record yourself saying soothing things to your chi and play it when you go out. Always leave a used shirt on a comfy spot for your chihuahua if not possible. Doing this allows you to leave your property for more extended periods.
Additional Tips to Calm Down a Chihuahua with Anxiety
Here are more things you can do to help calm your chihuahua with anxiety:
✔️ Play Soothing Music When You Leave to Calm Chihuahua Anxiety
Playing music can help your anxious chi tremendously. It can alleviate the tiny dog’s stress and anxiousness whenever you’re out. Although each chihuahua’s taste differs, studies have proven that playing soft rock or classical music offers the most benefits. They can calm heart rates, lower cortisol levels, and other anxiety symptoms.
Aside from playing some tunes when you leave the house, music therapy is also helpful during travels or fireworks shows near your home. But besides that, playing music can also reduce your chihuahua’s noise sensitivity by blocking off the street or scary sounds that might trigger your chi’s anxiety.
Either way, music can ease your chihuahua’s anxiety and stress on the spot!
✔️ Explore Aromatherapy for Your Chihuahua
We all know chihuahuas rely heavily on their noses to navigate, feel, and generally adapt to their surroundings. So, why not try aromatherapy to help calm down your anxious chihuahua? Essential oils can soothe your chi’s raving mind but be careful when choosing a variant. After all, essential oils made for humans are never safe for chihuahuas to inhale!
Instead, opt for essential oils approved by vets or those formulated for pets. Doing so ensures you’re providing the perfect balance of oils and fragrance for your chihuahua. Regardless of your choice, be careful during the oil application. When applying some essential oils to your chihuahua, only rub some of it along its back. And never apply to areas your chi can lick!
Generally, fragrances such as cedar and lavender provide the best calming and grounding properties for chihuahuas. And I recommend avoiding tea tree, anise, clove, wormwood, and anything citrus as these can harm your chi.
✔️ Soothe Your Anxious Chihuahua
If none of the mentioned techniques work for your anxious chihuahua, here are other soothing strategies to explore:
- Place your chihuahua in a dark space free from any external stimulation. It’s an excellent way for your chihuahua to relax and reset amidst the chaos. Adding some of your clothes in the same space can also make this more effective.
- If your chihuahua is big in pets and touches, stave their anxiety away with belly rubs and head pats.
- See if you, yourself are stressed. After all, your mood can easily affect your chihuahua, triggering its anxiety. So, whenever facing your chi, relax and stay calm.
✔️ Positive Reinforcement
Encourage better behavior in your chihuahua with anxiety by practicing positive reinforcement. Whenever you spot your chi jump, bark, or get too hyper due to anxiousness, don’t soothe them ASAP! Instead, ignore your chihuahua and wait for it to calm down. Doing so helps you stop these destructive habits early and make your chi relax more.
Succumbing to pets and soothing methods can encourage bad behavior from your chihuahua. After all, it teaches your chi that those actions grab your attention quickly. So, only reward your chihuahua when it deals with stress and anxiety positively.
Can I Prevent Anxiety in My Chihuahua?
It can be tricky to see what will make your chi develop anxiety. But it can be even more difficult anticipating if your chihuahua’s anxiousness will turn into something worse! Luckily, as there are ways to calm chihuahua anxiety, there are also preventive measures.
Here are the ways you can help your chihuahua avoid succumbing to anxiety-related issues:
❗Fitness and Diet
Providing regular exercise and diet to your chihuahua is crucial for its health. And with a healthier body often comes a healthier mind! So, that means you can prevent the onset of anxiety in your chihuahua by taking care of its physical and mental needs.
❗Read Your Chihuahua’s Body Language
Knowing when your chihuahua feels uncomfortable or scared can help you prevent the onset of anxiety early. Use your knowledge to guide your chihuahua away from negative experiences. And instead, use them as positive training! Aside from that, reading your chihuahua’s body language also lets you know when they’re getting anxious. And this can be helpful if your chi displays aggressive behavior due to anxiety.
❗Socialize Your Chihuahua Well
Socialization with humans and animals can stop the development of anxiety in chihuahuas. Introducing your chi to others can prevent the exaggerated response over time. Aside from that, it also helps your chihuahua become a better-adjusted dog citizen.
Letting your chihuahua participate in obedience training can stop or manage their anxiety. After all, it establishes the foundation of a healthier bond and trust! Aside from that, having a well-trained chihuahua will be easier to socialize with others than those without training. Not to mention obedience classes are excellent places for chihuahuas to meet other dogs in a safe and controlled environment.
❗ Practice Situation Avoidance
If your chihuahua has already gotten anxiety, it’s not too late to address it. You can prevent the situations that trigger your chihuahua’s anxiety attacks instead. For instance, if your chihuahua gets nervous when facing animals other than your other pets, only take your chi for walks in secluded areas. Avoiding these stimuli doesn’t mean you have to put your life on hold. Instead, it’ll reduce not only your chihuahua’s anxiousness but also yours!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is a chihuahua a naturally anxious dog?
A: Chihuahuas are famous for being aggressive and brave dogs but can get anxious quickly. Many become fearful or nervous due to limited exposure, socialization, and general fear. And these can eventually develop into anxiety. Specifically, chihuahuas are prone to separation anxiety as they like being close to their humans.
Q: What causes the sudden onset of anxiety in a chihuahua?
A: Although it differs for each chi, generally, age-related anxiety is the one to blame. As your chihuahua ages, it may develop new fear or confusion due to cognitive decline. And unfortunately, all chihuahuas will eventually develop cognitive dysfunction syndrome. But younger chi may become anxious for a different reason. And these can include a pulled muscle to a thyroid condition.
Q: Why do chihuahuas have panic attacks due to anxiety?
A: Certain triggers can scare anxious chihuahuas, eventually leading to a panic attack. Different chis have varying stimuli, such as sounds, people, objects, locations, or situations. Generally, many chihuahuas develop phobias and anxiousness toward fireworks or storms.
Q: How long will an anxiety attack last for a chihuahua?
A: Anxiety attacks can last minutes to hours, depending on your chihuahua’s anxiety severity. These panic episodes can involve symptoms like bated breathing and increased heart rate. Luckily, these go away on their own and require no intervention. So, unless your chihuahua displays severe symptoms, there’s no need to worry.
Q: How to calm chihuahua anxiety with medication?
A: The only over-the-counter medicine you can give your chihuahua is Benadryl. It’s an antihistamine that can provide relieving and calming effects. But even if it’s an OTC medication, I don’t recommend giving it to your chi without a vet’s suggestion. Other medicines for chihuahua anxiety are Prozac, Trazodone, and Xanax.
From tough love to prescribed medications, there are many ways to calm down your anxious chi. But remember that it’s essential for you, as the owner, to be supportive and patient with your dog. After all, anxiety can overwhelm chihuahuas and hinder their daily lives. And if you’re ever struggling with calming your chihuahua, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a vet.
This guide offers an -in-depth insight on how to calm chihuahua anxiety. With this, you should identify early signs and understand how to help your chi. You’ll be able to help improve your chihuahua’s quality of life in no time!
Here at ILoveChihuahua, we share our personal experiences as owners of this feisty breed. We talk about recommended methods, dog supplies picks, and advice on common Chihuahua problems. Our goal is to promote responsible dog ownership, so there would be fewer Chihuahuas in shelters.