Why Chihuahuas Shake and Shiver


Chihuahuas are notorious for shaking and shivering more than any other dogs. In fact inexperienced owners often believe there is a serious health issue which is causing this behaviour. As a result, they rush their little canines to the emergency vet only to discover that there’s nothing wrong with them. So, what exactly causes Chihuahuas to shake and shiver? If you’re curious to know why your Chihuahua acts this way, keep reading and we’ll take a closer look into the Chihuahua’s shaking behaviour.


One of the most common reasons why Chihuahuas shake and shiver is simply because they are cold. With an average weight of just 2-4 pounds, Chihuahuas are one of the smallest dog breeds in the world; therefore, they are more susceptible to the effects of cold weather. Just like we instinctively shiver in cold temperatures, so do Chihuahuas. It’s their way of speeding up the flow of blood throughout their body so they don’t fall victim to hypothermia.

When the fall and winter seasons begin to roll around, you should take notice of your Chihuahua’s comfort level. They obviously don’t have the ability to speak and let you know when they are cold, so it’s up to you to watch their body language. If your Chihuahua shakes and shivers in the morning, evening or when they go outside, then it’s likely a result of them being cold. You can stop this behaviour by warming them up and offering some thermal protection against the biting cold temperatures.

Here are some things you can do to keep your Chihuahua warm and prevent them from shivering:

  • Dress them up in a sweater, hoodie or thick shirt.
  • Place a space heater a couple feet away in front of their bed (never leave it on unattended).
  • If you let your Chihuahua outside when it’s raining, dry them off before letting them inside the house.
  • Place additional blankets and bedding in your Chihuahua’s crate/bed.
  • Hold your Chihuahua up against your chest or in your arms when you are traveling to provide extra warmth.
  • Crank up the thermostat inside your home to a warmer, more comfortable temperature.

Anxious / Frightened

Like many other small dogs, Chihuahuas tend to shake and shiver when they are anxious or frightened. Some owners don’t give their Chihuahua’s credit for being as smart as they really are. When a young Chihuahua puppy sneaks off into another room of the house to use the bathroom, you might find them hiding in their crate shivering uncontrollably. This is because they know they weren’t supposed to go to the toilet indoors, so they are anxious and nervous of your reaction. Even if you don’t physically punish your Chihuahua (you NEVER should), just the stern sound of your voice telling them no is enough to draw a shaking and shivering reaction from them.

Chihuahuas may also shake when larger, more menacing dogs are nearby. If they are not used to being around dog’s, they will naturally be frightened and somewhat standoffish. This is usually typical behaviour, but I recommend keeping your Chihuahua separated from any larger dogs they are not familiar with. Shaking is a sign they are frightened, and this could lead to them lashing out if they feel threatened or backed into a corner. Just to be on the safe side, place your Chihuahua in a different area of the house if they are shaking and a new dog is around.


Chihuahuas also shake when they are excited. This type of excitement is positive and doesn’t require any special treatment or attention from the owner. In fact, it’s actually kind of amusing to see your Chihuahua so happy and excited from something as simple as a treat. Just remember to only give them treats in moderation; otherwise you run the risk of them being overweight and obese.

Hypoglycaemia (Low Blood Sugar)

It’s estimated that as many as 10% of the Chihuahua population suffers from hypoglycaemia, making it a common health problem associated with the breed. Some of the symptoms presented from it include: lethargy, lack of energy and shaking uncontrollably. If left untreated, hypoglycaemia can lead to seizures and even death. Thankfully, however, it’s fairly easy to treat. The key is to spread your Chihuahua’s meals out through the day. If you are only feeding them 1 or 2 large meals, try giving them 4-5 smaller meals with the same amount of food. You can also keep a dropper, full of sugar and water with you, incase of an emergency. When your Chihuahua begins to exhibit symptoms of hypoglycaemia, just squirt a small amount of sugar and water down their throat.

Allergic Reactions

Lastly, your Chihuahua’s shaking and shivering could be the result of an allergic reaction. Have you noticed this behaviour after feeding them a new type of food or treat? If so, you should stop giving it to them immediately and closely monitor their situation. If they don’t stop shaking or other symptoms begin to manifest, call your vet for professional advice. Allergic reactions are something that you don’t want to mess around with. In most cases, they will go away on their own, but some of the more severe cases can lead to life-threatening complications.

Just like us humans can have allergy tests, so can Chihuahuas and other dogs. If you believe your Chihuahua is suffering from allergies but can’t pinpoint its exact origin, this might be a smart option to take. Talk to your vet about the pros and cons of performing an allergy test to determine whether or not it would prove beneficial.