Chihuahuas shake. In fact, Chihuahuas shake so much, sometimes it seems like they shake all the time. For the most part, it’s completely normal. However, shaking can also be a symptom for some health problems.
So, how do you know a Chihuahuas shake is a “normal” shake or if your Chihuahua shaking is indicating a health problem? Honestly, it can be difficult to tell the difference. We compiled a list of the most common reasons behind “normal” shaking and the most common health problems that may cause your Chihuahua to shake. However, if reading through these different scenarios you are still unsure why your Chihuahua is shaking, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian.
What causes “normal” Chihuahua shaking?
Did you know, shaking is a normal body function that aids thermal regulation? This means, Chihuahuas, people, and other animals will shiver as a way to increase their body temperature when cold. Chihuahuas, as a breed, are adapted to warmer climates. Their small size does not allow them to retain their body heat well, and they have relatively thin coats. Due to these things, they need warm winter clothes. Our favorites include Fitwarm Pajamas or the Hurtta Jumpsuit.
Heating Pads can also be a great way to keep your Chihuahua warm, but make sure the heating pad is on only when you are home and that your Chihuahua does not chew on either the pad or the cord.
If you notice that your Chihuahua shakes when sleeping, cold can absolutely be one of the reasons why. Is your fan on? Or the AC? Maybe try letting him sleep on a heating pad or in pajamas to see if that helps him stay warmer at night.
While all breeds get excited or overly stimulated from a variety of situations, it is not uncommon to see this emotion show itself as shaking in your Chihuahua. Simply put, their tiny bodies seem to be unable to contain to much excitement without some physical display…sometimes this comes in jumping around or barking, but more often than not, it appears as shaking!
Anxiety or Fear:
Stress, whether it is in the form of a new experience, a change of environment, or a little scare, can also cause your Chihuahua to shake. While we have this listed as a “normal” shake, because a little stress is not harmful, too much stress can absolutely affect your Chihuahua’s health. So, if you notice your Chihuahua shaking due to anxiety or fear, you should try to identify what is causing your Chihuahua concern, and help your Chihuahua feel more comfortable with that stimulus.
Anything that you would associate as a breed trait is oftentimes something that has been purposefully (or accidentally) been bred into the breed through generations and generations of selective pairings. In this case, the “Chihuahua shake” is a clear breed trait known to be a normal characteristic of the small breed.
What types of health problems cause Chihuahuas to shake?
Hypoglycemia means low blood sugar. About 10% of Chihuahuas have this condition. Hypoglycemia is not life threatening as long as you take the proper precautions. Most veterinarians will recommend breaking your Chihuahua’s meals up into small meals that you give throughout the day. Feeding your Chihuahua small amounts more frequently helps their bodies maintain a better sugar level. You can also give small amounts of Karo syrup if they seem to be having a hypoglycemia “attack”. However, “junk food” and sugary treats should be avoided. Typically, Chihuahuas who suffer from this condition will shake first thing in the morning with no obvious explanation as to why.
Distemper is a viral disease that affects dogs that are not current with their vaccinations, have been vaccinated improperly, or possibly were just suffering from a weakened immune system at the time of exposure. Dogs diagnosed with Distemper will have a variety of symptoms including (please take your Chihuahua to a veterinarian immediately if they are experiencing any of the following): eye and nose discharge, fever, coughing, diarrhea, and vomiting. In addition, Distemper can cause neurological signs like tremors and uncoordinated movements. Treating Distemper generally involves hospitalization where a veterinarian can give life-saving supportive care. Treatment may also include antibiotics, airway dilators, physical therapy, and fluids to help manage dehydration.
Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS):
This syndrome is also known as Steroid Responsive Tremor Syndrome or “white shaker dog syndrome”. It was first noticed in small, white dogs such as the Maltese and West Highland White Terriers, but it can occur in dogs of any size, breed, or color. The causes of this syndrome are unknown. The signs of GTS start between nine months and two years of age. Treatment generally consists of steroids.
Several toxins or poisons can cause tremors or shaking in dogs. Common substances that are poisonous for dogs include chocolate, cigarettes, antifreeze, insecticides and Xylitol (the sugar substitute found in many chewing gums). Signs of poisoning can vary but may include tremors, weakness, disorientation, depression, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. If you think that your Chihuahua has ingested a toxic substance and they are exhibiting any of the aforementioned symptoms, you should contact a veterinarian immediately.
If your Chihuahua suddenly starts shaking violently or you notice the shaking is specific to a certain part of his or her body, it may be a sign of pain. For example, dogs will frequently shake their heads or scratch their ears if they have an ear infection.
If your Chihuahua is shaking more than usual or if your Chihuahua begins shaking uncontrollably, please consider contacting your veterinarian immediately. Changes in “normal” behavior are typically the biggest indicator of a health concern.