Why does my chihuahua shiver?

It isn’t uncommon to see a chihuahua shivering. Some chihuahuas shiver all the time and others only occasionally. I don’t think I have ever seen Minnie shiver, but she is long haired and larger than average. Arlo does, if he is stressed.

There are some obvious reasons why your chihuahua might be shivering such as cold or anxiety but there are some medical reasons that could also cause chihuahua shivering.



Chihuahuas can be tiny and are one of the smallest dog breeds. Tiny chihuahuas have little body fat, so it is not surprising that they would feel the cold. If the temperature has dropped then your chihuahua will appreciate a warm jumper or a nice blanket to snuggle under. Chihuahuas do not like being cold and may start to burrow in the cold weather. So, watch out under duvets and piles of washing for a snoozing chi. Alternatively, if your house is cold then you may want to consider looking on websites similar to kellypropane.com and local fuel suppliers, to see if they can provide a viable solution for you to heat your house efficiently to keep your chihuahua warm in the cold months.


Shivering when they are afraid is common. Being handed over to a stranger for nail clipping or being taken to the vet is likely to raise your chihuahuas anxiety level and they will start with little cycles of tremors

If your chihuahua is shivering because of anxiety he may snap. Chihuahuas are fear biters and tend to snap first and ask questions later. Watch his body language so you can assess how he is feeling. Read how to read your dog ears.


In the same way they would shake if they are anxious they might shake if they are excited to see you. This shivering is likely to be accompanied by lots of barking and tail wagging.

Low blood sugar

Tiny chihuahuas can be at risk of low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemia is when they expend more energy than they take in. This might be because their stomachs are so small.

As well as shivering and trembling they may be unsteady on their paws and seem disorientated.

If you think your chihuahua is having a hypo it is very important to feed him straight away. If he won’t eat, then rub some liquid sugar like syrup or honey onto his gums

If this happens on a regular basis, feed him lots of small meals over the day.


Chihuahua shivering is one of the symptoms of distemper. Distemper is a virus that will affect dogs who have not had their initial vaccinations. Along with shivering and shaking your chihuahua may also have discharge from his nose or eyes, fever, coughing, diarrhoea and vomiting. Distemper is very serious, and your chi will need urgent medical attention.

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There are several types of poisoning that can cause tremors. Common poisons for dogs include, chocolate, antifreeze, Xylitol (artificial sweetener found in many products) nicotine, and caffeine.

This is not a complete list of substances that can poison your chihuahua. If you think your chi has been poisoned, then he needs urgent medical care. Go to the vet without delay.

Neurological disorders that cause chihuahua shivering

There are other neurological disorders that can make your chihuahua shiver. Epilepsy, White Dog Shaker Syndrome, Cauda Equina Syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease and Tick Paralysis.

This is not a complete list either but most of these issues are rare. So, don’t assume that chihuahua shivering means he has a serious illness. Look at the context and any other accompanying symptoms.

The chances are your chi just needs a woolly jumper!

Books by Chihuahua Power

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