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Why Do Chihuahuas Shake So Much? (Should I Worry?)

Do you have a chihuahua that trembles like a suspect being grilled under the hot lights of an interrogation room?

Are you concerned that this shaking and shivering behavior is part of a larger health problem?

If so, we may have some of the answers you seek.

To help put your mind at ease, in this article we will point out several possible reasons why chihuahuas might shake, and offer some quick and easy solutions to address each of these causes.

While some of these reasons are harmless and certainly no cause for concern, others may be a bit more serious and demand your immediate attention.

Reasons Your Chihuahuas May Shake

As we pointed out in the introduction, there can be several reasons behind the shaking that is sometimes seen in chihuahuas.

While not all of these breeds regularly tremble, their small size and genetic makeup definitely makes them more prone to this type of behavior.

Let’s take a look at just some of the reasons a chihuahua may shake.

Your Chihuahua Is Cold

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the chihuahua is the smallest dog breed in the world.

Because of its minute size, the chihuahua lacks the body fat that would keep most other breeds of dogs insulated from the cold.

Moreover, the chihuahua was first bred in Mexico as a warm weather dog, and thus it does not have the protective coat that is present on some other dogs that were bred for colder temperatures, such as the husky or malamute.

So what can you do to address this type of shaking—shaking from the cold?

Well, even if you are vehemently opposed to things like dog sweaters, if you plan to take/ let your dog out of the house during the colder months of the year, you may need to overcome your objection to these types of doggie duds.

Just as you would bundle up your small children to brace against the winter cold, if you intend to be a responsible chihuahua owner you will need to do the same here.

Your Chihuahua Is Anxious

Nervousness and anxiety, especially in small dog breeds like the chihuahua, often takes the visible form of shaking or trembling.

Chihuahuas particularly are known to be anxious dogs.

This anxiety or nervousness can be caused by a number of factors, but “newness” of any kind tends to be especially upsetting to this breed.

A new environment, a new person in the house, a new pet or even a strange new sound (like fireworks) can sometimes transform even the calmest chihuahua into a trembling pile of nerves.

If you are concerned that your dog’s shaking and shivering may be caused by anxiety, try looking for other clues that might back up this diagnosis.

Other behaviors related to doggie anxiety include:

  • Hiding.  Does your chihuahua sometimes hide during situations that are particularly stressful? Cowering under a bed or behind the curtains?
  • Panting.  If your chihuahua is panting while he shakes, anxiety or nervousness may be the root cause.
  • Chewing.  Not all dogs chew or lick excessively when they face an anxiety-producing trigger, but if seen in combination with some of these other symptoms it could be a troubling sign.
  • Excessive yapping. Excessive barking in the absence of any usual trigger (the mailman, birds, etc.) is another sign of upset in chihuahuas.
  • Urinating.  If your house-broken chihuahua starts to urinate when faced with new or upsetting phenomenon, anxiety may very well be the cause.

If, based on these other symptoms, you feel that anxiety is either wholly or partially responsible for the shaking and trembling in your chihuahua, it is important that you seek help from your veterinarian.

There are many effective treatments for this condition, but if anxiety is allowed to persist, it can worsen over time and become very uncomfortable for both you and your dog.

Your Chihuahua Has a Rapid Metabolic Rate

Smaller dogs like the chihuahua tend to have a much faster metabolism than their large-breed counterparts.

As a result, they are able to burn off the calories they consume at a much faster rate than mid-to-large-sized dogs—about three times faster, according to experts on the breed.

And while this rapid metabolic rate certainly keeps the chihuahua thin and energetic, it also causes them to lose body heat much quicker than other dogs, which in turn causes them to shake.

Not much can be done about the chihuahua’s amazing ability to burn off calories, but you will need to consider this fast metabolic rate when developing a feeding schedule for your pet and when exposing your dog to the harsh elements of winter.

Your Chihuahua Is Hypoglycemic

Hypoglycemia, otherwise known as low blood sugar, is unusually common in the chihuahua breed—a fact that can often explain away some of their shaking behavior.

Because of their high metabolic rate and their ability to burn off calories quickly—coupled with their energetic behavior—blood sugar levels in chihuahuas can sometimes fall dramatically.

And when this happens, it can cause your dog to be very sluggish and begin to tremble.

Low blood sugar levels can be very dangerous when not addressed quickly, so it’s crucial that you act immediately when you see the first signs.

Naturally, this type of health scare can be pretty scary, but there are actually some steps you can take today to potentially prevent hypoglycemic events in your chihuahua.

If you regularly feed your chihuahua a mere one to two times a day, it may be time to initiate a different feeding schedule.

While you do not necessarily need to increase the amount of food you give your dog (unless advised by your vet), you should probably start stretching that food out over 3-4 meals a day rather than usually one or two.

This will ensure that your chihuahua has a steady stream of calories throughout the day.

You can also add a few more calories into the water they drink—just put an eye-dropper’s amount of sugar water into your dog’s water bowl.

Combined, these strategies can help you avoid the type of low-sugar shakes that often plague the chihuahua breed.

Last Word

While the causes we outlined above represent the most common reasons for shaking in chihuahuas, there are some serious medical conditions, including kidney disease, that can also bring about this trembling.

Therefore, if the problem persists or begins to worsen, be sure to take your furry little friend to the vet for a comprehensive examination.

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National Canine Research Association of America