Why Do Chihuahuas Shake?
[All you need to know]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: May 23, 2022

Recently, a very old friend of mine adopted a Chihuahua pup and called me up in a panicked state when it started shivering and shaking. Admittedly, it can be scary to see your Chihuahua tremble, but there is actually quite a lot of  confusion regarding this behavior. 

Why do Chihuahuas tremble and shiver? Is it because they are nervous or scared? Is it something medically concerning? Unfortunately, these are burning  questions in the mind of pet owners. 

With this article, we take a better understanding of this behavior of Chihuahuas and debunk some myths around it. 

The Root Of The Behavior

The principal reason may simply be that they are cold. Chihuahuas are small dogs weighing between 2 to 4 pounds. Thus feeling cold comes very quickly. In addition, the shivering of the body induces blood flow, thus preventing hypothermia.

More worryingly, on the other hand, low blood sugar and hypoglycemia can also result in shivering in Chihuahuas. Symptoms might be in terms of lethargy and seizures. You must be warned that it can become a life-threatening condition if not treated properly. 

Other behavioral reasons can be anxiousness or fright

Much like humans!

Chihuahuas do indeed shiver because they are afraid. They may be frightened by an unfamiliar environment, a loud noise, or just about anything else that they sense is out of place. However, they are an intelligent breed and can pick up on changes fast. Trembling can also be due to an allergic reaction from eating something or coming in contact with pollens.

Even excitement can make Chihuahuas shiver! But, in that case, there is nothing to worry about. 

Context is key. Evaluate your surroundings first before jumping to any conclusions. 

When you think about it, this makes sense since Chihuahuas were bred as guard dogs back when people lived in caves. Their ancestors would protect them from predators while also keeping watch over their territory. So it was only natural that they developed such strong instincts to keep themselves safe.

Debunking Myths

Some myths are surrounding why Chihuahuas shake. The breed is known for being nervous, but that does not contribute to the shivering factor. Chihuahuas are actually very pleasant dogs, mostly well-tempered and behaved. If trained properly, a Chihuahua will not be shaking or trembling unless it comes under stressful situations. 

Sometimes they are just silly. For example, many owners think that Chihuahuas shake because they enjoy making noise and want attention. 

In a more superficial delightful aspect, Chihuahua does not tremble because they are nervous but may get nervous because of shivering. To get better control over this, Chihuahuas must be trained from a young age and taught to socialize. This helps them get adjusted to the environment and be less anxious, thus less shivering. Including daily mental stimulation also helps in reducing nervousness and shaking

Ignoring your Chihuahua’s health issues and needs can make them antsy. Then, it becomes a vicious circle. 

Significant Reasons Why Chihuahuas Tremble And Shake

Now that we have got a basic understanding of the behavior let us see some reasons, biological, physiological, and mental, as to why Chihuahuas shake. 

High Metabolism

Chihuahuas have one of the highest metabolisms in the world because of their small size. This means their body needs energy at a faster rate than most other dog breeds, i.e., almost ahead by three times. The fast-paced metabolic system makes Chihuahuas prone to having higher levels of adrenaline circulating through their bodies. Adrenaline causes increased heart rates, breathing rates, sweating, muscle tension, trembling, etc. 

They burn calories like no other breed. Unfortunately, this constant burning of calories makes them feel tired after only short periods. When they get too exhausted, they start to shake. So if you notice your Chihuahua getting really tired, make sure he/she gets plenty of exercise and rest.

You may want to consider giving him a daily walk with his leash on.

Low Blood Sugar Levels

Hypoglycemia is a common cause of shivering and shaking. As a pet owner, keeping an eye for symptoms like lethargy and intense shaking is essential as low blood sugar levels can prove fatal to such small dogs. A mild drop in blood sugar levels can just cause trembling, but as the condition worsens, the symptoms may aggravate drowsiness and even fainting. 

Keeping a tab on meals can help control such situations. In addition, portion controlling the food and distributing it in smaller proportions- roughly 4 to 5 meals per day-helps maintain blood sugar levels. Also, do keep sugar water and a dropper handy just in case you observe hypoglycemic symptoms in your Chihuahua. 

Feeling Nervous

Chihuahuas are very sensitive to changes in their environment. If not trained from a very early age to socialize, when placed with bigger or high-energy dogs, they start feeling anxious and evidently leads to shivering and shaking. The more the discomfort, the more the trembling. 

A great way to address this problem is exercising your dog physically as well as providing mental stimulation. This makes them feel self-assured and thus more adept at adjusting themselves around people and other animals. 

Feeling Cold Or Hot

Chihuahuas are known as the smallest dog in the world. This is because they do not get enough body fat to keep themselves warm in shallow temperatures. Generally, I advise pet owners to buy jackets or jumpers to provide additional warmth to their small dogs. 

If your Chihuahua starts trembling while wearing a coat, then there might be another problem. They may get too hot inside the coat. It would be best if you remembered that the coats, even though designed to protect us from the elements, for Chihuahuas being smaller than average-sized dogs, they tend to overheat very quickly.

So if your Chihuahua gets overheated, they start shaking uncontrollably. 

Feeling Excited

If your Chihuahua is jumping and barking, it might be because of excitement. This can also lead to your beloved pet get shivering and trembling. As I mentioned, there is no cause of concern in this case. 

The happy shaking is a vital thing to embrace. It is their way of showing affection to you. You might catch them trembling right before you give them meals or treats or even during playtime!

Old Age

As dogs age, their bodies start losing muscle mass and strength. This leads to slower movement and less energy. Thus it is widespread to see older Chihuahuas tremor both in their front and hind legs. 

When old dogs get tired, they tend to shake more often. But the tremor does not affect the style of walking. 

Do consider regular checkups with your vet to avoid any health condition deterioration and pain.


When an animal feels anxious, they will try to calm down by moving their limbs vigorously. That’s what happens when Chihuahuas shake. They move their legs back and forth as if trying to run away from something.

Chihuahuas can detect your anger by the tone of your voice. So in case you raise your voice, your Chihuahua will start to shake as a response out of fright. Not just getting frightened because they’ve probably done something you can scold them about. They generally also do get frightened in the presence of larger dogs if they are not appropriately socialized or have not been introduced to more giant animals before. 

If you see your Chihuahua shaking near a more giant or high-energy dog, immediately leash your Chihuahua and move them away from the current situation. Shaking is a sign that something terrible is about to happen to them, and they will experience severe tremors. 

On such occasions, your Chihuahua might lash out, and if the other dog’s response is the same, then your Chihuahua could get seriously injured in the altercation. If an environmental element causes the anxiety, you prefer to move them away from there. 

To deal with the separation anxiety bouts of your Chihuahua, start by leaving them by themselves for short minutes each day, start with 5 minutes say. Then gradually try to build it up when they get used to being 5 minutes alone. Use treats as positive reinforcement for good behavior. 

Fear Responses

If your puppy has been exposed to something that makes her fearful, they may develop an exaggerated fear response. In these cases, the body goes into the fight-flight mode, causing the animal to shake uncontrollably. The only way to stop this behavior is to get rid of whatever triggered it. Once the source of the fear has been removed, the reaction will subside on its own.

Medical Reasons Causing Chihuahua To Shake

Generalized Tremor Syndrome (Gts)

Also known as steroid responsive tremor syndrome or white shaker dog syndrome usually affects dogs between the 9th month and two years of their lives. 

The disease was first noticed in small, white dogs, but it has affected dogs of any size, breed, or color. The causes of this syndrome and the dog’s shaking are unknown. It can be easily misdiagnosed as anxiety or hyperglycemia.

Immediately contact your vet to run a complete physical check on your Chihuahua, and then depending on how severe the tremors are, your Chihuahua will be receiving inpatient or outpatient care.

The general treatment course consists of corticosteroids.


Poisoning is a severe problem in pets. There are many types of poisons, including antifreeze, rat poison, insecticides, rodenticide, household cleaners, etc. In addition, poisonous plants and animals can affect many different breeds of dogs, including Chihuahuas. Common poisonous substances in nature include berries, mushrooms, grapes, onions, garlic, chocolate, coffee beans, fish, meat, milk products, nuts, potatoes, raisins, spinach, tomatoes, tea, and wheat.

Typical signs of poisoning include drooling, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, to name a few.  

If your puppy eats something toxic, contact your veterinarian right away to administer proper treatment.


Distemper is caused by a virus that attacks the brain and nervous system. Dogs not vaccinated or improperly vaccinated gets affected the most due to weak immune system.

It is fatal in puppies less than six months old. Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, seizures, tremors, and paralysis. In addition, it can cause neurological symptoms like tremors and uncoordinated movements. In case you start observing the symptoms, take your Chihuahua to the veterinarian immediately. 

Distemper is easily treated with antibiotics but requires immediate veterinary attention and life-saving support. Treatment generally involves antibiotics, physical therapy, IV fluids, and airway dilators. 


This disease occurs when an animal’s thyroid gland produces too many hormones. It usually affects older dogs, although younger ones can develop hyperthyroidism later in life. The symptoms of Hyperthyroidism vary depending on which organ system is affected by the disorder. Some signs include excessive urination, increased appetite, weight loss, muscle tremors, nervousness, restlessness, diarrhea, vomiting, and even seizures.


Being small in size injuries, both internal and external injuries can become a common cause of shaking for Chihuahuas. 

If you suspect your dog has an internal injury, some symptoms to look for are bruises, weakness, black stool, coughs, and wheezing glazed eyes. With external injuries, you can see bruising and cuts. 

Meditation will vary in accordance with the kind of injury. Do consult your vet before administering any dose. 


Sometimes, even though there isn’t anything wrong with your dog, they just have an inherited trait that makes their nervous system react differently than others. If you think about it, dogs were bred over thousands of years to perform specific tasks, such as hunting, guarding, herding, etc., which require strong nerves and muscles. These traits are passed down genetically, making each generation more robust than the last.

Infections And Allergies 

Allergic reactions can cause your Chihuahua to shiver and shake. The reaction can stem from some sort of food they have eaten or pollens they came in contact with, orally or physically. In certain situations, the symptoms reduce on their own. But if the shaking does not stop, immediately contact your vet and get medications started. Allergic reactions can aggravate life-threatening situations if not dealt with properly. 

As for infections, ear infections are the most common ones. You will notice a constant shaking of the head with your Chihuahua in this case. Other symptoms include odor, itchiness, swollen ear canal. Again, get your vet on board to get the correct treatment regime. 

To be on the safer side, get allergy tests performed for your Chihuahua to know what is off-limits. Do consult your veterinarian before doing so to get a better preview. 


Drooling, fainting, stiffening can be signs that your Chihuahua is having seizures. Though seizures can have underlying causes, medications like potassium bromide, Keppra, and phenobarbital can help control the tremors. 

Kidney Problems

Weight loss, disorientation, lack of balance, ulcers in the mouth, and deteriorated breathing can show your dog having kidney problems. 

Get your vet onboard immediately if you suspect these symptoms. 

Remedies For Shivering

To get a solution to help stop shivering, it is crucial to understand the cause of the tremor. In most cases, there are pretty simple solutions that you can follow to help your pup with the shaking. The first step is to make sure your dog stays warm. If you reside in a colder area that sees low temperatures, it is adequate to get your Chihuahua some cute sweaters and jackets to keep them warm. It is also important to avoid staying outside for too long when the weather is on the colder side. 

If none of those work, try bathing them before bedtime. A nice soak will relax them and calm down any nerves. Just remember to use gentle shampoo and soap as well as pat dry afterward. The last option would be to put them under heat lamps. Heat lamps are great for calming down nervous pets. Place them near a window where they can bask in the warmth while watching TV or playing games.

If the condition is medical, do get professional help. Also, keep an eye out for any symptom that feels unusual. That way, you will end up avoiding any severity. 


Small dogs are in general more susceptible to injuries and trauma because of their size and metabolism. So, it is essential that, as pet owners, you look for symptoms like limping, crying, or changes in their personality and behavior to identify potential causes of tremors. 

As a dog trainer with significant expertise, I understand the concerns that arise with a pet owner when their Chihuahua shakes. Focusing on training your dog from a young age will help develop confidence in your tiny furry best pal. It is normal to be worried about the shivers, so keep an eye out for any other potential symptoms to get a better understanding of your Chihuahua’s health condition.