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Why Do Chihuahua Dogs Shake?

If you’ve ever been around a Chihuahua dog, you may have noticed that they tend to shake – a lot. Whether they’re excited, scared, or just resting, Chihuahuas are known for their shakiness, and it’s not uncommon for many people to wonder: “Why do chihuahua dogs shake?” I mean, it’s not like they’re cold all the time, right?

Chihuahuas are some of the smallest breeds of dogs, but they’re also among the most energetic and expressive. These tiny dogs can be incredibly talkative and often show their emotions through body language. One of the most common behaviors is called tremoring, which is a specialized kind of shaking. 

The exact cause isn’t always clear, but there are several potential reasons why your Chihuahua might be trembling.

Why Do Chihuahua Dogs Shake: 13 Common Causes

Dogs are experts at reading emotions. Simply changing the tone of your voice or the way you carry yourself can convey your emotions to them. However, it is not always easy to understand how dogs feel, which can leave us feeling helpless.

Understanding why your dog is trembling or shaking might be challenging. It can signify excitement, fear, cold, pain, or underlying medical conditions. Below are some of the common reasons why Chihuahuas shake:.

① Cold

See, Chihuahuas are tiny pups with barely any fur to speak of. As a result, they’re prone to getting chilly pretty quickly, especially if they’re in a drafty or air-conditioned space. Given their small size, they have a higher surface area-to-volume ratio as compared to other dog breeds. This means they lose heat faster than larger dogs, causing them to get cold quickly.

When Chihuahuas (and other small dog breeds like Yorkshire Terriers) start feeling chilly, their bodies kick into “temperature maintenance” mode to prevent hypothermia. Moreover, Chihuahuas have a high metabolism, which further exacerbates this issue. Their body generates a lot of heat which is lost very rapidly due to their small size, so their body then shakes to generate extra heat to keep them warm. 

So, even if your heater is on or your house isn’t particularly cold, your little Chihuahua might shake a bit to maintain their body temperature. 

② Anxious / Frightened

Another common reason Chihuahuas shake is because they are anxious or frightened. Chihuahuas are a sensitive breed, and they can get anxious easily. This anxiety can be triggered by a wide range of things, from loud noises and new people to changes in their routine or environment. 

When a Chihuahua gets anxious or frightened, their body produces excess adrenaline, making them shake. This physiological response is similar to the fight-or-flight response in humans.

Shaking is just one of the many ways that Chihuahuas try to cope with their anxiety. They may also pant, whine, or hide. It’s important to recognize the signs of anxiety in your Chihuahua and take steps to help them feel more comfortable.

③ Excitement

You know how humans have certain physical reactions to emotions, like sweating when we’re nervous or smiling when we’re happy? Well, Chihuahuas have their own little tell-tale sign of excitement – shaking! It may seem odd to us, but it’s a common thing among these tiny pups.

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So why exactly does this happen? When a Chihuahua gets excited, their body undergoes a surge of adrenaline and other hormones. This can cause their muscles to tense up, and the shaking is a release of that built-up tension. It’s kind of like when we have a sudden adrenaline rush and feel like our whole body is buzzing – except in dogs, it often manifests as shaking.

This can happen for various reasons, such as when they see their favorite toy when they’re about to go for a walk or even when they see their favorite person. Basically, any situation that creates a rush of excitement or anticipation can trigger this response.

④ Old Age

As dogs age, their bodies go through a lot of changes, just like ours do. One of the things that can happen is a loss of muscle mass and strength, which can make it harder for them to maintain their balance and control their movements. This can lead to shaking, especially in their extremities like their legs or paws.

Another thing that can contribute to shaking in older Chihuahuas is arthritis. As their joints start to wear down and become stiff or painful, their muscles may shake as they try to compensate for the discomfort. The shaking is a sort of instinct for survival and trying to find a comfortable position.

Furthermore, older Chihuahuas may shake due to a decline in cognitive function. This can happen as Chihuahuas, much like humans, age. It can be stressful for them as they begin to have difficulty remembering things, and get easily confused and frightened, leading to trembling.

⑤ Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

This condition occurs when there is a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, which can result in shaking or trembling. But why does this happen to chihuahuas more often? Well, the answer is quite simple. Chihuahuas are a small breed with a high metabolic rate, which means they burn through energy quite quickly

If they do not consume enough food or skip a meal, their blood sugar levels can drop rapidly, leading to hypoglycemia. Plus, chihuahuas are known for having a small reserve of body fat, which can exacerbate the problem.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include tremors, shakiness, disorientation, weakness or lethargy, and even seizures in severe cases. It’s important to monitor your Chihuahua’s behavior and diet closely to prevent hypoglycemia from occurring.

⑥ Allergic Reaction

One of the most common reasons why Chihuahuas shake is due to an allergic reaction. These allergies can range from environmental triggers, like pollen, dust, or even mold, to food sensitivities. When a Chihuahua comes in contact with one of these allergens, the body releases histamine – a chemical that triggers an immune response. It’s this immune response that can result in the shakes.

So why does the immune response result in shaking? Well, it all boils down to the fact that histamine can cause inflammation in the body. Typically, shaking is just one symptom of an allergic reaction, and it’s important to watch for any other signs that your Chihuahua might be experiencing, such as itching or gastrointestinal distress.

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Your poor little Chihuahua may be trying to get comfortable or relieve the itchiness caused by the allergic reaction. It’s important to identify and treat the underlying cause of the allergy to help alleviate these symptoms and ensure your pup’s well-being.

⑦ Poisoning

While it may seem alarming, chihuahuas are especially susceptible to poisoning due to their small size. Even the smallest dose of a toxic substance could potentially harm or even kill them. Unfortunately, many common household items could cause poisoning in your furry friend, including cleaning products, insecticides, medications, and even certain types of foods.

So why do chihuahuas shake when they’re poisoned? Well, the shaking is actually a sign of a toxic response. When exposed to a harmful substance, the body sends signals to the nervous system to react accordingly. In the case of poisoning, the body may activate its defense mechanisms, causing tremors and shaking as a way to expel the toxins or protect vital organs.

⑧ Injury

You see, Chihuahuas are tiny and delicate creatures, which makes them more prone to injuries than larger dogs. Even a simple fall or rough playtime can result in sprains, fractures, or dislocations. When this occurs, Chihuahuas may shake as a way of coping with physical discomfort and pain.

Additionally, Chihuahuas may shake if they experience muscle spasms or nerve damage caused by an injury. These spasms can cause involuntary movements and shakes, which can be distressing for both you and your furry friend. As pet owners, it’s important to keep an eye out for any physical injuries and seek prompt veterinary attention if our Chihuahuas exhibit any signs of distress or discomfort.

⑨ Kidney Issues

The kidneys play a crucial role in regulating a dog’s body temperature. When the kidneys don’t function properly, it can lead to fluctuations in body temperature, which can manifest as shaking. Additionally, kidney issues can cause a buildup of toxins in the body, which can also cause shaking.

While it’s not a guaranteed sign that your Chihuahua has kidney issues, it’s certainly worth watching. Other symptoms to look out for include excessive thirst, frequent urination, and changes in appetite or weight. If you notice any of these symptoms in addition to shaking, it’s important to take your pup to the vet as soon as possible.

⑩ Ear Infection

Chihuahuas are prone to ear infections due to the size and shape of their ears. Their ears are large and upright, which can trap moisture and debris inside. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, leading to an infection.

The shaking is often accompanied by scratching and head shaking. In addition to shaking, other signs of an ear infection in chihuahuas include redness or swelling, foul odor, discharge in ear canal, and sensitivity to touch near the ears. An ear infection can be due to various reasons, such as allergies, moisture, or ear mites.

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Shaking is the Chihuahua’s way of signaling to you that they’re experiencing discomfort and would like you to check on them. It’s important to address an ear infection in your Chihuahua as soon as possible, as it can be quite uncomfortable and even painful for them. Plus, if left untreated, it can lead to more serious complications.

⑪ Seizures 

While some shaking can be normal behavior for this breed, excessive shaking can be a sign of a serious health issue. One of the most common reasons why Chihuahuas shake is because of seizures.

A variety of underlying conditions, such as hydrocephalus, liver shunts, epilepsy, and more, can cause seizures. These underlying conditions can lead to abnormal activity in the brain and result in seizures. When a Chihuahua experiences a seizure, it may convulse or shake uncontrollably. Unfortunately, this can be a scary and potentially life-threatening event for your furry friend.

Hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, is a condition commonly seen in Chihuahuas that can cause seizures. This condition occurs when there is an excess buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, leading to pressure and damage to brain tissue. Similarly, liver shunts, which occur when blood from the digestive system bypasses the liver, can also cause seizures in Chihuahuas.

⑫ Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)

GTS is a neurological condition that causes involuntary shaking and trembling in dogs. Although it can affect any dog breed, it is most commonly seen in small breeds like Chihuahuas. While the exact cause of GTS is unknown, it is generally believed to be genetic, meaning the condition is passed down from the parent to the puppy.

So, why does GTS cause shaking in Chihuahuas? Well, the simple answer is that it affects the dog’s nervous system, causing its muscles to contract and relax involuntarily. This could be compared to how a person’s hands might shake due to their nerves being overly stimulated. The GTS-induced shaking in Chihuahuas is usually more noticeable during periods of stress or excitement, exacerbating the tremors.

While GTS can seem scary for dog owners to witness and potentially reduce the quality of life for the dog, the good news is that it is not a painful condition. In fact, most Chihuahuas with GTS live normal, healthy lives. However, as with any health condition, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best course of action to manage the symptoms.

⑬ Canine Distemper Virus

Distemper is a viral disease that is highly contagious in dogs, especially in puppies. It affects their respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. It’s also considered one of the most serious diseases that can attack a dog, and if left untreated, can be fatal. The severity of the infection varies from dog to dog, with some experiencing mild symptoms while others display more severe responses.

One common symptom of distemper is shaking or trembling. Dogs that contract distemper tend to shiver due to the viral impact on their nervous system. Other symptoms include fever, coughing, sneezing, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

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If you notice any of these symptoms in your furry friend, it’s important to take them to the vet immediately for a proper diagnosis.

How To Make A Chihuahua Stop Shaking

As a dog owner, it can be heartbreaking to watch your little friend shake or tremble uncontrollably. The good news is there are steps you can take to help ease their discomfort and make them feel better.

🐶 Keep Them Warm

Please provide them with a warm and cozy environment that will make them feel comfortable. You can dress them up in a cute sweater made of a material that offers insulation, such as wool or fleece. 

Try to keep the ambient temperature of their living space above 68°F, and add blankets or beds that are soft and comfortable. This will help them snuggle up, retain heat and make them feel secure.

Another trick that can help make your chihuahua stop shaking is by providing them with a warm water bottle wrapped in a blanket or towel. This can provide the warmth they need and a place for them to snuggle up against. Keep the bottle covered in a towel or blanket so it does not burn their skin.

🐶 Regulate Their Diet

Another way to soothe chihuahua shaking is to regulate their diet. Studies have shown that a poor diet can trigger shaking in dogs, including chihuahuas. The wrong type or the amount of food can cause blood sugar spikes or drops, which can lead to tremors. 

Hence, feeding your Chihuahua with high-quality dog food containing all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients will keep them healthy and help soothe the tremors.

In addition, your chihuahua should be fed multiple little meals throughout the day as opposed to one or two large meals to avoid blood sugar changes. You can also supplement their diet with a small amount of honey or Karo syrup (which are high in glucose) if they’re experiencing an excessive shake attack.

🐶 Exercise and Playtime

First of all, ensure that your furry friend gets enough activity by taking them for regular walks or runs. Chihuahuas are energetic little dogs and love to play, so stimulating them with toys or playing games such as fetch can help them stay active and reduce anxiety. It’s essential to provide a variety of exercise options to keep them engaged, interested, and always ready for some fun and games.

Additionally, Chihuahuas thrive on companionship and social interaction. Spending time bonding with your pooch through playtime or training sessions can help build trust and positive associations. This can help soothe your dog’s anxiety and nerves, which can contribute to the shaking.

Remember that every dog is unique, and it may take some trial and error to find the ideal activity level and type of play that will help your furry friend stop shaking. However, in the long run, incorporating exercise and play can greatly benefit your Chihuahua’s overall physical and emotional health, making them happier and more relaxed.

🐶 Reduce Stress and Anxiety

First, it’s important to create a peaceful environment for your Chihuahua. Find a quiet, comfortable spot where they can relax and feel safe. If they feel more secure there, this could be a cozy corner of your home, their bed, or even a crate. 

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Reduce any loud noise or distractions, and make sure their basic needs are met, such as food, water, and access to a bathroom.

Another helpful strategy is to try calming techniques such as massage or aromatherapy. Massaging your Chihuahua’s muscles can help release tension and promote relaxation. You can use gentle circular motions on their back, neck, and legs and watch for signs that they’re enjoying the touch. 

Aromatherapy is another approach, and you can use scents like lavender or chamomile, which have soothing properties.

🐶 Seek Veterinary Care

A veterinarian can examine your Chihuahua to determine the underlying cause of the shaking. Sometimes, shaking can be a symptom of a more serious health condition, such as hypoglycemia or neurological disorders. By seeking veterinary care, you ensure that your Chihuahua receives the proper treatment to alleviate the symptoms and reduce the risk of the condition worsening.

Furthermore, a veterinarian can recommend safe and effective medications or supplements to help with the shaking. These medications can help to reduce anxiety or tremors and provide your Chihuahua with the relief and comfort they need. Additionally, a veterinarian can provide you with advice on how to reduce stress in your Chihuahua’s environment and suggest lifestyle changes that can improve their overall health.

In short, seeking veterinary care is the best way to make a chihuahua stop shaking. By doing so, you can ensure that your furry friend receives the proper care and treatment they need to live a happy, healthy life. Remember, your Chihuahua’s health and well-being should always come first, so don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you notice any concerning symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does Shaker syndrome affect Chihuahuas?

Yes, Shaker syndrome can affect Chihuahuas. It is a condition that affects the muscles, causing them to shake or tremble uncontrollably. The exact cause of Shaker syndrome is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to an autoimmune response or an underlying neurological issue. While it can affect dogs of any breed, small breeds like Chihuahuas are more prone to it. If you suspect your Chihuahua has Shaker syndrome, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Q: How can I regulate the body heat of my Chihuahua in cold weather?

To keep your Chihuahua warm in cold weather, you can dress them in a sweater or coat and provide them with a nice, warm bed. Furthermore, creating a cozy spot near a heat source, such as a furnace or radiator, can be helpful. You can also increase the humidity in their environment, as this can help to keep their body temperature regulated. Additionally, it’s important to ensure they get plenty of exercises, as this can help keep them warm. Lastly, ensure they always have access to clean, fresh water to stay hydrated.

Q: What medical condition can cause muscle weakness and shivering in Chihuahuas?

One medical condition that can cause muscle weakness and shivering in Chihuahuas is hypoglycemia. This is a condition where the dog’s blood sugar levels drop too low, causing a range of symptoms such as muscle weakness, shivering, lethargy, and seizures. Chihuahuas are particularly susceptible to hypoglycemia because of their small size and high metabolism. If you suspect that your Chihuahua is suffering from hypoglycemia, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.

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Q: Can a dog behaviorist help my Chihuahua stop shaking?

It is possible that a dog behaviorist may be able to help your Chihuahua stop shaking, depending on the underlying cause of the shaking. If your Chihuahua is shaking due to anxiety or fear, a behaviorist may be able to work with you and your dog to identify and address the root cause of the problem. However, suppose the shaking is due to a medical condition such as hypoglycemia or seizures. In that case, a behaviorist may not be able to provide effective treatment on their own, and you may need to seek medical care for your pet. It is important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any medical causes of your Chihuahua’s shaking before seeking help from a behaviorist.

Q: What is the life expectancy of a Chihuahua?

The life expectancy of a Chihuahua can vary depending on several factors, such as their overall health, lifestyle, and genetics. On average, Chihuahuas live between 12 to 20 years, which is longer than many other dog breeds. Providing your Chihuahua with proper nutrition, regular exercise, and routine veterinary care can help to increase their lifespan and overall quality of life. It is also important to note that small dogs like Chihuahuas can be more prone to certain health issues, such as dental problems, heart disease, and hypoglycemia, which may affect their lifespan. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help to catch and treat these issues early on.

Final Words

Now we know why our little chihuahua furry friends shake and tremble from time to time. And it’s not always because they are cold! While it’s true that chihuahuas are a small breed with a high metabolism, making them particularly sensitive to temperature changes, many other reasons can trigger their shaking behavior, such as anxiety, excitement, fear, pain, pain, illness, and even genetics.

But don’t worry, shaking is a perfectly normal and common behavior for chihuahuas, and understanding why they do it can help us provide them with the best care and support. So next time you see your chihuahua shaking, give them some extra cuddles and love and remember that they depend on us to keep them safe and healthy. And who knows, maybe with enough TLC and attention, they will eventually shake less and wag their tails more!