Did you find your Chihuahua dog has an insatiable urge to burrow? The reason for this behavior may have to do with the fact that she is trying to keep her legs warm during cold weather. Is this the only explanation for her behavior?
Let’s take a closer look at what’s causing the burrowing urge in Chihuahua?
Your chihuahua is performing the burrowing behavior because she is feeling cold and is searching for a warmer spot to rest. She is following her natural instinct to burrow for food and shelter. Her burrowing behavior is a protective response to anxiety and nervousness. She is creating a den for her litter. She is feeling bored and burrowing for amusement.
Cold Is Plaguing Her
As a breed of short and thin-haired dog, chihuahuas are unable to maintain their body temperature in cold weather due to their lack of long and intense furs.
A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 101° to 102.5° Fahrenheit, and if the surrounding temperature falls below 45.0° Fahrenheit, your Chihuahua will start to feel uncomfortable and will think of ways to keep herself warm.
One of the ways is to burrow into some warm spots or to curl up on her bed and lie down.
That is why you will find your Chihuahua loves to burrow into the couch cushions, bedding, blankets or any other soft and cozy place that can keep her warm during the winter seasons.
You will also see her experiencing the following symptoms:
- A shaking or shivering sensation.
- A hunched posture with the tail tucked.
- A change in behavior, such as appearing anxious or uncomfortable.
- Unwillingness to walk.
- In search of shelter.
- Raising her paw off the ground.
You can keep your dog warm during cold weather by:
- Placing a heat lamp near your dog’s crate.
- Keep her indoors during cold weather.
- Provide your dog with extra bedding and blankets.
- Provide her with a warm vest.
She Is Innately Prone to Burrowing
Burrowing is instinctive for chihuahuas. It’s in their genes.
Chihuahuas, who are descendants of wild dogs, burrow mainly to find shelter or food.
In the past, chihuahuas dug and burrowed in the soil as a way to protect themselves from bigger predators that would take advantage of their tiny size.
They will also burrow to find food, particularly small rodents.
The burrowing ability of chihuahuas is one of the key reasons for their popularity among farmers who depend on them to remove pests like mice, rats, moles, and gophers.
Essentially, they burrow to survive (keep themselves away from predators and to find food).
Nowadays, chihuahuas do not need to dig for food, so they instead dig their way into a blanket, as a matter of instinct.
There is not much you can do to stop the instinctive nature of your chihuahua’s burrowing behavior.
Having said that, if she burrows in areas of the house that are prohibited, you can provide her with a small cordoned area in the backyard where she can fulfill her instinct to burrow.
As a Means of Coping with Anxiety and Uncertainty
Anxiety and nervousness can often play a role in your dog’s burrowing behavior.
Small sized dog breeds such as chihuahuas tend to get anxiety, stress and nervousness easily when they are in an unfamiliar environment.
They are often afraid of new scents and sight as well as sudden loud noises and unexpected movements.
So, if you are moving to a new home, it is inevitable that your chihuahua will borrow her blanket as she is wary of her new surroundings.
Ensuring that your dog has been well socialized will certainly help her to face her new environment confidently and be adaptive to the changes.
Dogs can suffer from stress and anxiety just like us, so if your pet is displaying signs of panic or other anxiety symptoms, it’s crucial that you address the problem as soon as possible through training.
Find out what is causing her anxiety and address her fear.
Common causes of anxiety in dogs include:
Abandonment, neglect, mistreatment, fears of being alone, freaked out by ear-piercing noises, terrified of a car ride, having to meet strangers or dominance pets, as well as age-related anxiety.
Various medical conditions, including pulled muscles and thyroid disorders, can cause sudden anxiety in dogs.
Dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) often experience new fears and confusion as they age.
So, if your Chihuahua is reaching her golden years, she may be suffering from CDS that leads to her unusual anxious behavior and persistent burrowing.
When is a Chihuahua considered a senior dog?
Since Chihuahuas are considered toy breeds (which have a longer average life expectancy than larger breeds), they have a comparatively long lifespan of 14 to 18 years.
Chihuahuas will reach their senior status at the age of 10 years old, with a range of 9 to 12 years of age.
What are the signs that your dog is anxious?
- Having a tendency to bark or whine when you are not at home or about to leave home (sign of separation anxiety).
- The habit of panting and pacing in normal weather.
- Shivering in fear.
- Curled up in a corner of a house.
- Excessive digging as a way to escape.
- Chewing on furniture and bedding.
- Excessive licking of the paws.
She Is Building a Den for Her New Litter (Due to Phantom Pregnancies)
If the burrowing behavior is unusual and very sudden for your female chihuahua, she could be creating a den to shelter her upcoming litter.
This behavior can occur when your Chihuahua is pregnant (which is unlikely the case if you only have one dog in the house) or during an episode of phantom pregnancy.
Under the influence of pseudocyesis, your Chihuahua will believe that she is pregnant, but this is usually the result of her hormones shifting, causing an imbalance.
You should keep a lookout for any abnormal behavior from your chihuahua such as heavy grooming as well as aggressive behavior around her “nest” if she is unsprayed.
In general, about half of all female dogs will experience phantom pregnancies at some point in their lives due to the effect of a female dog’s natural hormonal cycle if they are not spayed.
Therefore, you may want to consider having your dog spayed.
The age at which a Chihuahua should be spayed
Many veterinarians suggest spaying your dog prior to her first heat as early spaying offers several benefits.
It significantly lowers the risk of mammary tumors when spaying is done before the first heat.
Several studies have shown that if this procedure is done after the second heat, the risk of tumors will increase.
The risk level will be 1 in 4 if a Chihuahua had experienced four heats before spaying.
Therefore, the ideal age for spaying a Chihuahua is when she is between 8 weeks and 3 months old.
Puberty occurs at the ages between 4 and 7 months for this breed, so 3 months is considered a safe age.
Do consult your veterinarian regarding prenatal care, as Chihuahuas require a different type of care than other breeds.
He Is Seeking a Comfortable Place to Rest
In general, Chihuahuas burrow in order to create a cozy and comfy haven for themselves.
This seems to be a reasonable explanation for his burrowing as we often do this (curl up in a blanket) whenever we need some comfort as well.
So it is a natural instinct for your Chihuahua to burrow into her cozy blanket and soft pillows in a warm room to relax and enjoy her ambiance.
She may also burrow into your lap or on you just to spend some quality time with you, which they are craving for.
Feeling Bored and Burrowing for Amusement
Although Chihuahuas are small, they are an active breed and are full of energy.
Thus, it is imperative for you, as her owner, to offer her a means to release her pent-up energy.
Keeping your dog inside the house without providing any mental stimulation or physical exercise will cause her to become restless.
She will then begin to find various ways to entertain herself.
This is when you will see her chewing on your shoes, bedding, furniture and burrowing on blankets or on anything that she finds interesting.
Thus, it is essential that you plan for some routine exercises such as playing fetch, hide-and-seek, tug of war, and chasing bubbles to help her release her excessive energy.
You should also take her out for a walk every day. Not only will your dog benefit from this walk to maintain her energy levels, but it will also keep her brain functioning and sharp.
She Is Burrowing To Ease Her Discomfort
Your dog could be experiencing some discomfort in her body, such as allergy infection on her coat and paws, and she is trying to ease her discomfort through burrowing.
You can perform a visual inspection on her coat and paws to check for any sign of inflamed skin or cuts.
And if you notice any signs of itching, redness or swelling on her paws, and she is persistent rubbing the paws on the blanket (similar to the action of burrowing) to ease the pain, try applying an antiseptic cream to her paws.
But if the problem continues, you will need to take her to the vet.
It’s important to find out what’s causing her allergy reaction and work on preventing that from happening again.
An allergy can result from proteins derived from plants, insects, or animals, as well as small chemical molecules. Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, flea saliva, as well as certain medications.
Furthermore, proteins from dairy products, beef, chicken and soy are also known to be allergens that can potentially trigger your dog’s allergic reaction.
When your pet consumes food containing these substances, her antibodies will react with the antigens and cause irritation.
Therefore, you should be on the lookout for when your dog starts to have an allergic reaction?
If this happens after an outdoor walk or after eating, that will shed some light on your dog’s treatment plan.