Why is My Dog Yelping in Pain?

Is your dog yelping in pain? Maybe it’s because of a painful injury. Dogs can sustain sprains, strains, fractures, and even ACL injuries. Your dog may be screaming in pain because of a laceration, puncture wound, or bite.

Older dogs can even yelp in pain due to ailments like arthritis. But, what if your dog has no visible wound or a history of such ailments? What if your dog is yelping in pain for no apparent reason? First things first, don’t panic.

It’s not that uncommon for dogs to randomly yelp in pain. In this article, I’ll discuss two of the most common reasons why this happens. I’ll also discuss some less common reasons and share everything you need to know to stop your poor pup’s pain.

Do you have a specific question about reasons why your dog might be randomly yelping in pain? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page. 

Why is My Dog Crying in Pain Randomly?

My dog keeps yelping in pain randomly and shaking. Should I be seriously concerned?”

We’ve all been there. One moment, our fur baby is playing joyfully, and the next, they start yelping out of nowhere. It’s heart-wrenching to hear your dog yelp in pain and not know the cause. So, why might your dog suddenly yelp in pain? Let’s dive into some common reasons.


Dogs are just as susceptible to cramps, muscle twitches, and muscle spasms as humans. If your dog is yelping in pain randomly, check if they’re having difficulty straightening their legs. If they are, then your dog’s muscles have probably overextended and cramped up.

Dogs scream in pain when they get cramps because of the unexpected hurt they experience due to involuntary muscle contractions. However, muscle cramps are not always painful events. Sometimes your dog may only show mild discomfort.

But, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to actively treat and prevent the cramps. To prevent your dog from picking up painful or painless muscle cramps, keep them well-hydrated. Don’t let them overexert themselves. Make sure they get multiple breaks in between play sessions.

If the pain is severe, you should consult a veterinarian for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Before that, you can try to gently massage the affected muscles. Here’s a helpful video on how to massage your dog when they pick up muscle cramps and spasms:

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Another common condition that causes dogs to yelp in pain for no apparent reason is IVDD. Intervertebral Disc Disease, also known as “slip disc” and “pinched nerve” IVDD is a condition where the cushion between the spinal cord nerves and the bony vertebrae of the spine slips.

When this disc “slips” it starts pressing on the spinal cord nerves. This pressing is what causes dogs to scream in pain. Dogs of all breeds/ages can get IVDD, but it’s more common in older dogs. If your dog randomly yelps and you suspect it’s IVDD, check for the following symptoms:

  • Inability to stand for long periods
  • Shaking and shivering
  • Dog yelping in pain at night for long periods
  • Grouchier than usual
  • Dog randomly yelps when lying down
  • Difficulty getting up after lying down
  • Holding tail down
  • Dog yelping in pain when picked up by the belly
  • Not eating well
  • Limping 
  • Dragging one or more limb

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet. There’s no DIY remedy or physical therapy that you can try at home to cure your dog’s IVDD. Only a veterinarian can provide a definitive treatment plan and stop the pain on a permanent basis.

Pinched nerves occur in either the dog’s neck or in the lower back area. These areas must be examined by a vet as soon as possible.


Ear infections are, unfortunately, quite common in dogs. If you’ve ever had an ear infection yourself, you know how painful it can be. Now, imagine our four-legged friends who have a heightened sense of hearing. An ear infection is very painful for dogs and may cause them to yelp, especially if they shake their head or if their ears are touched. Breeds with floppy ears, like basset hounds and shih tzus, have a predisposition to ear infections. If you suspect an ear infection, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian. They can determine the cause, whether it’s a middle or inner ear infection, and provide the right treatment to alleviate your dog’s pain.

Arthritis or Joint Pain

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from joint or muscle problems, especially as they age. Conditions like arthritis can cause chronic pain in dogs. Breeds like great danes and german shepherds might have a hereditary predisposition to such conditions. Over time, or due to overuse or age, the joints wear down, causing discomfort and pain. You might see yelping behavior when they try to stand up, use the bathroom, or even when they’re just lying down. Gentle massage can sometimes help alleviate mild pain, but it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian. They can provide a thorough exam and recommend treatments or medications to help your dog.


Now, this is a bit of a tongue-twister but bear with me. Syringomyelia is a severe condition where cavities or cysts form within the spinal cord near the brain. It’s most commonly seen in breeds like miniature dachshunds. It’s believed to be a result of a hereditary predisposition. The pain can range from mild to severe, and dogs may start yelping due to the discomfort. The pain is often worse at night, and you might hear your dog yelping randomly. If you suspect this condition, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care immediately. Your vet can help diagnose the issue and suggest ways to alleviate your dog’s pain.

Other Potential Reasons Why Your Dog Randomly Yelps in Pain

dog yelping randomly

If it’s not muscle cramps or IVDD, your dog could be suffering from developmental or degenerative joint and muscle problems. Developmental problems are hereditary. Hip dysplasia, for instance, is a genetic condition that’s common in larger-breed dogs.

Great Danes, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and larger-breed dogs often yelp in pain when they start to feel the effects of Hip dysplasia. Only a veterinarian can diagnose and treat such developmental joint/muscle problems.

Degenerative joint/muscle problems occur due to aging. Arthritis is the most common example of this painful condition. Again, only professional vets can diagnose and treat such problems. But, you can try out the massage techniques for your dog with arthritis at home:

Other potential reasons for your dog randomly whining in pain could be ear or skin infections. Dogs yelp in pain when infected areas are touched. So, if your dog is screaming in pain when touched in a specific area, get them diagnosed. Also, watch out for symptoms of infections:

  • Changes in stool appearance
  • Lethargy
  • Licking themselves in a particular spot
  • Constant whimpering
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

In some rare cases, dogs yelp in pain because of anxiety. Sudden changes in the environment can trigger anxiety and subsequent behavioral issues. If you suspect that’s the case, track the occurrences when your dog yelps in pain. Are there any patterns in this behavior?

For example, are they yelping every time there are people in the neighborhood? Such psychological patterns can only be diagnosed by vets and professional pet behaviorists. Reach out to these pros for more in-depth guidance.

Can You Administer Drugs to Your Dog to Stop the Pain?

My dog is yelping in pain at night. Can I give her human pain medication to stop the yelping for the night?”  

I recently got this shocking message from a reader and I quickly responded “ABSOLUTELY NOT.” You should never give your pet pain medication (for dogs_ before consulting with a vet, let alone human pain medication! Many human painkillers are toxic to dogs.

No matter how bad the pain is or how loudly your dog is yelping, do not give them your Vicodin, Percocet, Tylenol, or any other human pain medication.

If your pet has taken “dog-friendly pain medication” like Rimadyl, Deramaxx, or Previcox in the past, then you might consider giving them one pill for the night. But, I’d suggest you call your vet even before you do that.

Applying CBD oil, turmeric, or other topical pain-relief products to the pain-riddled regions of your dog’s body is a much safer option.

Home Treatment for Dogs Yelping in Pain

Oh, the heartbreak of hearing our fur-babies yelp in pain! As dog owners, we’ve all been there, and it’s a sound that can send shivers down our spine. While it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying reason for your dog’s yelping, there are some home treatments you can consider to help alleviate their discomfort. But remember, always consult with your vet before trying any new treatment.

Plenty of Rest

Just like us after a long day or when something is wrong, dogs need their beauty sleep too. If your dog starts to yelp, it might be a sign they’ve overexerted themselves or are experiencing pain due to overuse. Ensure they have a comfy spot to rest, away from loud noise and distractions. Sometimes, a little R&R is all they need.

Hot or Cold Compress

Depending on the cause of your dog yelping, a hot or cold compress can work wonders. For instance, cramps and muscle spasms, which are a common cause of yelping in dogs, can be soothed with a warm compress. On the other hand, if your dog has a swollen or inflamed area, a cold compress might be more appropriate. Always ensure the compress isn’t too hot or cold, and always use a cloth barrier to protect their skin.


Who doesn’t love a good massage, right? Our pups are no different. Gentle massage can help alleviate pain and discomfort, especially if it’s due to muscle tension or overuse. Focus on the area where your dog seems most sensitive, but be gentle. If they show any signs of increased pain, stop immediately. And if you’re unsure about the right technique, there are plenty of recent posts and tutorials available that can guide you.

Consult with a Veterinarian 

While home treatments can be beneficial, they’re not a replacement for professional veterinary medicine. If your dog’s yelping continues or if you notice other symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, fear or anxiety, or any other unusual behavior, it’s crucial to book an exam by a veterinarian. They can provide a thorough assessment and recommend the best course of action.

In conclusion, our dogs are our world, and when they hurt, we hurt. While it’s essential to try to help them at home, always remember that when in doubt, the expertise of a vet, e.g., from the College of Veterinary Medicine, is invaluable. They have the knowledge and tools to pinpoint the cause of a dog yelping and provide the best care possible. So, always keep their number handy and prioritize your pup’s well-being above all.

Thanks for the blog graphics: Canva.com

Thanks for the blog graphics: Canva.com

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