13 Reasons Why Do Chihuahuas Shake? [FAQ]

If you are a Chihuahua owner, you have probably seen your little friend shake, shiver, or tremble. This usually comes as a surprise to new Chi owners because you think your Chihuahua has a health condition—but this is not always the case.

why do Chihuahuas shake
Why do Chihuahuas shake?

Although excessive shivering may not be normal among Chihuahuas, the breed is notorious for being nervous and shaky. The good news is that you can do many different things to help your Chihuahua stop shaking.

But before you even think of helping your dog, the first question that is likely to come to mind is obviously: Why do Chihuahuas shake?

In this post, we will take a closer look at the reasons why Chihuahuas shake so you can give your little friend the care he needs.

1. Cold Weather

Cold weather is one of the main reasons Chihuahuas shake and shiver. Like humans, Chihuahuas can also get cold and shiver. This is quite often among little dogs or dogs with very short hair.

In general, Chihuahuas prefer warm climates, and if the temperature is low, they will shiver to increase their body temperature. Unfortunately, their small body size and relatively thin coat don’t help them retain a lot of heat.

Keep your little buddy warm with clothing and soft blankets during winter. Also, if your Chihuahua is shaking while asleep, check if your fan or AC is on.

2. High Metabolism

Although Chihuahuas are the tiniest breed of dogs, they produce a lot of energy because of their fast metabolism. These dogs burn three times as many calories as other canines.

The immense energy loss is one of the reasons Chihuahuas shake—with the shaking increasing whenever they get anxious, excited, or due to cold weather. So it’s worth noting that your Chihuahua might be feeling cold even while you think the temperature is relatively warm.

a long haired chihuahua
A long haired Chihuahua living its best life outdoors

3. Injury

If you notice your Chihuahua is shaking violently(and it’s specific to a part of its body), it might be due to an injury. Pain from a severe or moderate injury can make the small dog shake uncontrollably.

Although there may not be a sign of a cut on the Chihuahua, internal injury can cause shaking for a long time. You may not see any forms of injury even if you inspect your little friend. Therefore, whenever you notice unusual behavior like crying, whining, or limping, take the Chi to a veterinarian immediately.

4. Poisoning

Poisoning can lead to sudden and unexpected shivering. Some signs of poisoning that may be accompanied by shaking include:

  • Face swelling
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing blood 
  • Loss of bowel and bladder
  • General weakness
  • Dry heaving

In most cases, poisoning in Chihuahuas results from the ingestion of toxic foods such as raisins and chocolate. 

However, poisoning may result from other factors such as ingestion of insecticides, cleaning solutions, or even human medication. If, at any movement, you suspect or figure out your Chi has ingested poison, call your veterinarian. 

5. Upset or Nervous

Has your Chihuahua ever run to you when somebody opened the do to get into the house? You’ve probably seen this a couple of times—it is a sign of fear. The Chi may also shake if it finds itself among other dogs, especially energetic and bigger dogs. 

The shaking will vary depending on how anxious or upset the dog is. The good thing is that it’s not quite complicated to help if you know the root cause of the dog’s fear. 

You can stimulate it mentally to get used to the things that make him afraid. For instance, you can let him interact with another dog till they get used to each other.

6. Excitement

Have you ever noticed your Chi shaking, jumping, and even trembling whenever he sees you after a long time? Or does he shake every day if he knows you are about to give him food?

Emotions can sometimes overwhelm your Chihuahua. And other than jumping, your little friend can tremble and shake uncontrollably due to high emotions. However, in such a case, you should not worry because your little friend is happy.

They shake because they like to get their whole body involved in the act. Although they can wag their tails, like other dogs, that is not just enough for them. 

chihuahua playing tug
A Chihuahua playing tug on a carpet

7. Old Age

It’s common for some dogs to shake as they grow older. So while you may think your Chihuahua is still young and energetic, he may be quite old. At 15 years, you should equate your Chi to a person who is about 100 years old. 

Now imagine living up to 100 years? Moreover, as Chihuahuas get older, a few usually develop tremors in their legs, especially their hind legs. However, extreme shaking may also be due to joint pain. In such cases, take your little buddy to the vet immediately. 

6 Health-Related Reasons for Chihuahua Shaking

Based on my experience, your Chihuahua might be shaking due to health reasons. Take a look at how health conditions might make your dog shake.

Low Blood Sugar 

Also known as hypoglycemia, abnormally low blood sugar is a common cause of shaking among Chihuahuas. Their low blood sugar levels are due to their high metabolism and small body size. 

One of the signs of low blood sugar in Chihuahuas is a total lack of energy. Your little friend will shake uncontrollably but lack the energy to move around the house or play with you. To treat this condition, give him food rich in nutrients—his meals also need to be more frequent.

Kidney Issues

Kidney failure is a severe health condition that causes shaking among Chihuahuas. Other signs of kidney failure in dogs include:

  • Mouth ulcers
  • Ammonia smell from you Chihuahua 
  • Pale gums
  • Loss of balance
  •  General body weakness
  • A dull coat
  • Weight loss
  • General disorientation 
  • Bloodshot eyes

Well, you might wonder: “Why does my Chihuahua smell like odd ammonia?” The reason for this is due to increased waste product buildup in the body of your little friend. If you notice such a smell or any of the symptoms mentioned above, rush your Chi to your vet.

Allergies 

Do you often feed your Chihuahua with new types of food from time to time? If so, have you ever noticed a change in his behavior after feeding him new foods? 

Just like humans have allergic reactions, so do Chihuahuas. And tests for allergies are also carried out in Chihuahuas and other dogs—like in humans. 

If your Chi starts shaking a few minutes after ingesting new foods, stop giving them the food. If the shaking doesn’t stop after close monitoring, get in touch with the vet.

Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS)

Generalized Tremor Syndrome is a syndrome that affects Chihuahuas and other dogs, particularly those between the age of 9-24 months. This condition is also known as white shaker dog syndrome or steroid-responsive tremor syndrome. 

Although GTS was first discovered among small, small white dogs, its leading cause remains unknown. 

What’s more is that scientists can’t also tell why white shaker dog syndrome causes shaking among dogs of all sizes, shapes, colors, and breeds. However, corticosteroids (forms of steroids) generally help in treating the condition. 

Best Dog Food for Chihuahua
A key to Chihuahua health is picking a breed appropriate dry food

Distemper Virus

Distemper is a severe viral infection that affects any Chihuahua or puppy that is not vaccinated. Some of the symptoms of this virus include:

  • Vomiting 
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Tremor
  • Nose and eye discharge
  • Uncoordinated movements

The only way to fight this virus is to support your little friend by caring for him and ensuring he is current with his vaccination or the dog is adequately vaccinated.

You can also take the Chi to a veterinarian who can also support him. Antibiotics, physical therapy, airway dilators, and increased fluid intake are the most common treatment measures for the virus.

Ear Infection

Ear infections are pretty common in Chihuahuas. So, what causes ear infections? Ear wax.

Like humans, Chihuahuas also produce excess wax. If the excess wax isn’t occasionally removed/cleaned, it can lead to infections.

You can easily tell if your Chi has an ear infection if he continuously shakes his head instead of his body. He may also rub his head against anything he comes across. 

To treat this condition, take your Chihuahua for an ear examination. Moisture in the ears can also cause ear infections.

Bottom Line

Although shaking is normal in some Chihuahuas, it should not be an everyday occurrence. 

Now that you know the common causes of shaking and trembling in Chihuahuas, we trust you’ll easily tell when to be more affectionate to your dog and when to rush him to the vet. 

As a Chihuahua lover, you probably don’t want to see your loved one getting hurt, sick, or have unanswered questions about why he shakes. 

Understanding the problem as early as possible can go a long way in helping you avoid physiological and emotional issues that cause shaking and shivering in Chihuahuas.