Why Does My Dog Keep Yelping in Pain Randomly?

Seeing our dogs distressed can be very concerning as a pet parent.  We love our dogs like they’re our family.  When something seems wrong, we want to come up with a solution to help our dogs feel better and get back to acting like their normal and happy selves.  If you’re saying, “my dog keeps yelping in pain randomly,” I empathize with the worry and fear you’re facing.  There are different conditions that could cause a dog to feel pain and start yelping. Continue reading to better determine the underlying reason for your dog’s discomfort.

Most Common Reason Dogs Randomly Yelp in Pain

Do you want to know the most common answer to the concern “my dog keeps yelping in pain randomly and shaking?” 

Intervertebral disc disease, or IVDD, is actually the most common cause for this behavior.  You may also hear this condition referred to as a slipped disc.

Between the vertebrae on a dog’s spine are little discs.  These discs serve as a cushion for the spine, making it more comfortable.  However, the discs can slip out of their position, which causes them to press against the spinal cord.  There are also nerves that connect the spinal cord to the rest of a dog’s body.  As you can probably imagine, this can be very painful and can lead dogs to yelp.  

It is possible for dogs of all ages and breeds to suffer from a slipped disc.  However, this condition is more common in older dogs.

Some breeds, such as German Shepherds, Shih Tzus and other breeds with shorter noses, Beagles, Basset Hounds, and Miniature Dachshunds, are also more likely to suffer from a slipped disc.

If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from a slipped disc, some other symptoms you may notice include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Head in a downward position
  • Yelping in pain when getting down from the couch or bed
  • Yelping when touched
  • Hiding
  • Opting to lay down rather than stand up
  • Tail down
  • Shaking
  • Difficulty getting comfortable in their bed
  • Acting grumpier than normal
Why is my dog squealing randomly?

Other Possible Causes for Dogs Yelping in Pain

While the most common reasons a dog yelps in pain have to do with slipped discs or pinched nerves, this is not the only explanation for your dog’s yelping.  There are other potential causes for the yelping that you’ll want to consider.

Infections

If your dog has an infection, it could be causing them enough pain to make them yelp.  There are many different types of infections that dogs could have, with ear infections being among the most common.  Some other types of infections can include oral and dental infections, canine influenza, and parvovirus.

Also, if you are wondering why my dog keeps yelping in pain randomly and peeing, a urinary tract infection may be to blame.  Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, can make it painful for a dog to urinate.  They can also cause dogs to urinate more than they typically do.

Arthritis or Joint Pain

Why is my dog randomly yelping in pain?  Arthritis and other forms of joint pain can certainly cause a dog to be uncomfortably enough to yelp in pain.  Dogs with arthritis have a lot of swelling and inflammation around their joints. This can make once-simple tasks like walking or getting up on the bed difficult and painful.  As dogs age, their chances of suffering from arthritis increase.

A dog’s genes can also put them more at risk for certain inherited conditions, such as hip dysplasia.  With hip dysplasia, the ball and socket of the hip joint don’t fit together as they should.  Rather, they rub against one another each time the dog walks or moves his hips.

Overtime, this rubbing leads to deterioration at the joint and negatively impacts the joint’s functionality.  While hip dysplasia is most common in larger breed dogs, specifically those with a genetic predisposition, it can occur in any dog.

As you may guess, hip dysplasia can be quite painful.  If your dog is experiencing hip pain, it could explain why they are yelping.

dog in pain

Muscle Cramps

Why is my dog squealing randomly?  Muscle cramps could also be to blame.  You’ve likely experienced muscle cramps yourself and know how uncomfortable and even painful they can be.  A muscle cramp occurs when the muscle contracts involuntarily.  The cramp may just last for a few seconds, or it could cause pain for a few minutes.

Muscle cramps in dogs can be caused by the same things that cause cramps in humans.  These include straining a muscle, dehydration, overuse of a muscle, or sitting/laying in the same position for too long.  

Other signs of muscle cramps can include moving more slowly than normal, twitching legs, or limping.  You may also notice that your dog is having more trouble straightening their legs.

Syringomyelia

Many people haven’t heard of syringomyelia, but it is another condition that can cause dogs to yelp in pain.  This progressive disorder is characterized by a skull that is too small compared to the size of the dog’s brain.  Dogs with syringomyelia can experience a lot of pain along the back of their neck.

However, the pain is not always constant, so dogs may yelp at what seems like random times if they are experiencing greater pain.  Dogs with syringomyelia typically experience the greatest pain if they keep their head in a specific position that places greater pressure on their neck or skull, during different types of weather, or when they get overly excited.

Why is my dog randomly yelping in pain?

Diagnosing the Reason Your Dog is Yelping in Pain

If your dog is yelping, and you believe that he or she is in pain, schedule an appointment with their veterinarian.  Veterinarians are trained and experienced and know what to look for to help them diagnose the cause of a dog yelping.

Your dog’s veterinarian will start by performing a physical examination of your pup.  They may gently touch your dog’s body or move their limbs to see if the dog will react in a way to let them know which area is in pain.  

If there are no clear signs of injury or infection during this exam, your veterinarian will gather images of your dog through the use of X-rays.  These images will help the vet identify the cause of the pain by letting the vet see your dog’s bones and skeletal structure.

Depending on the severity of the pain and what the imaging shows, your veterinarian may refer your dog to a specialist, such as a neurologist or orthopedist.  These professionals may recommend additional testing, such as MRIs or CAT scans, to better help them determine what is going on.  

dog in a cone

Home Treatment for Dogs Yelping in Pain

Before attempting to give your dog any home treatments for their pain, it is important to consult with a veterinarian first.  You want to make sure that you aren’t overlooking a more serious condition and that any treatments you want to try are safe for your dog.

That being said, if your dog is just in mild pain and your veterinarian does not think that they need a stronger painkiller, here are some things you can try to help manage and minimize the pain and discomfort your dog is feeling.

Plenty of Rest

The most important thing you can do to help your dog feel better is to make sure they get plenty of rest.  Dogs that are in pain should not be out running, playing, or going on long walks.  Also, try to limit or even eliminate the need for your dog to go up or down the steps.  

If your dog is experiencing back or neck pain, you should also switch to using a harness, rather than a collar, when you take them out for short walks to use the bathroom.

my dog keeps yelping in pain randomly and shaking

Hot or Cold Compress

A hot or cold compress can also minimize the pain your dog is feeling and help them to get more comfortable.  Every dog is different, however, so you will need to test whether they will tolerate having a hot or cold compress placed on their body.  If you want to try this suggestion, be sure to wrap the heating pad (on the low setting) or ice pack in a towel and leave it on the area for only about 5 or 10 minutes at a time.

Massage

Giving your dog a very gentle massage may help alleviate some of the pain they are feeling.  However, take care to start very slowly and pay attention to your dog’s reaction. Make sure that they like the massage and that it doesn’t seem to be causing any additional pain.

Helping a Dog Who is Randomly Yelping in Pain

If your dog is randomly yelping in pain, you should probably bring them into the veterinarian to be checked out.  Your dog’s vet can help diagnose what is going on and recommend next steps. 

Stay calm and keep your puppy happy and comfortable!

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FAQ

When a dog yelps what does it mean?

If your dog is yelping, it can mean a number of things.  Pain is one of the most likely causes behind a dog’s yelping.  However, your dog may also be yelping out of boredom, to get attention from you, due to fear or anxiety, because they are hungry or need to go to the bathroom, or because they see or hear something that you haven’t noticed.