4 Reasons Why Dogs Keep Yelping in Pain Randomly

Dog Barking

Is your dog suddenly going through an episode of random yelps? What is the mysterious pain that’s causing him to act this way? Here are some common reasons for dogs that yelp randomly.

Your Dog has Joint or Muscle Problems

Your dog could be suffering from joint or muscle problems in specific sections of the body. This may cause the dog to yelp when they perform a specific body moment. Joint problems can form due to two issues: developmental and degenerative problems.

Developmental problems occur due to a dog’s hereditary predisposition. Hip dysplasia, for example, is a hereditary condition common among larger-breed dogs such as Great Danes and German Shepherds. These dogs may start to yelp in pain as they start to feel the effects of these conditions.

Degenerative joint and muscle problems occur due to overuse or age. Osteoarthritis is one common example of this. A life spent playing, jumping, and running will eventually wear down a dog’s body. Dogs with joint conditions will likely display other symptoms such as having difficulty lying down, having trouble climbing stairs, or showing a reluctance to jump.

We strongly recommend you visit the vet as soon as possible in case your dog is suffering from any one of the above health conditions.

Your Dog is Suffering from an Infection

Joint and muscle problems aren’t the only health issues that may cause your dog to randomly yelp in pain. It could also be an infection that’s causing him to yelp in discomfort. For example, a middle or inner ear infection is very painful for dogs and may cause them to yelp in pain when their ears get touched.

Pay closer attention to your dog and see if he is displaying any worrying health symptoms such as a change in stool appearance, lethargic movements, whimpering, and vomiting or diarrhea.

Your Dog is Suddenly Feeling Anxious

Your dog might yelp in a painful tone if he experiences a sudden surge in anxiety or stress. For example, he may be reacting to something he senses in the environment. He may yelp because he is frightened by the presence of a stranger in his territory, or due to behavioral issues such as separation anxiety.

Record the occurrences when your dog starts to yelp and see if you can identify any common patterns in his yelping behavior. For example, most of the yelping may be occurring in the evening when people in the neighborhood or building are returning from work. This information will help a vet or pet behaviorist better understand the underlying issues.

Your Dog is Suffering from Cramps

Yes, even dogs are susceptible to cramps and muscle spasms. Cramps can occur due to an overexertion of the muscles. Common symptoms include twitching and tremor, limping, slow movement, and having temporary difficulty straightening their legs.

You can prevent your dog from feeling cramps and muscle spasms by making sure he gets plenty of small breaks in between a play session, and making sure he has access to drinking water throughout his play or exercise session.

Can I Give my Dog Anything for Pain?

It’s an understandable reaction for dog owners to want to give their dog something to alleviate their pain, but it’s something you must avoid at all costs. You should only give your dog pain medication that the vet specifically recommends. Giving your dog the wrong type of medication and in the wrong dosage can lead to fatal consequences.

Outside of medication, the thing we do recommend is to make sure your dog has access to plenty of drinking water and to limit your dog’s movement (e.g. avoid stairs and other strenuous physical activities) until your dog’s pain has been diagnosed by a vet.

Disclaimer: The content on MyPetChild.com is for informational purpose only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian when in doubt.

65 Comments

  1. Karla January 27, 2020 at 11:51 am

    My dog is yelping like something is hurting her! This morning we were laying in bed and she cries out!! I can’t seem to figure out what’s bothering her and I definitely don’t have the money to take her to the vet!!

    1. Anthony Battaglia February 15, 2020 at 11:52 pm

      My dog is doing the same thing. One minute she’s laying there and then she suddenly yelps! She keeps looking around like she’s looking at something.

      1. Sheldon Box June 10, 2021 at 4:13 am

        My 5yr old female Doberman started doing this today..A painful yelp out of the blue for no reason then just sits there as if she is ” looking at something”. I’ve examined her feet, ears ,body not seeing anything at all physically wrong..She is calm now but about 15mins ago I heard the most painful yelp and this has been going on for about two hours…

        1. casey michelle hardiman September 16, 2021 at 9:34 pm

          This is exactly what my dog is doing right now. What ended up happening for you and your pup?

      2. Kim June 24, 2021 at 9:45 pm

        My 6.5 month old Yorkie sleeps on us all the time. When you move or go to pet him he yelps and then runs away. If I try to pick him up to comfort him or pet him he tries to bite me. NOT play biting. Then he won’t come near us. This just happened suddenly 2 weeks ago after a grooming appointment at Pet Smart. I figured they traumatized him somehow but he’s still doing it. There doesn’t seem to be anything physically wrong with him as he plays like a maniac all day.

        1. Rose cameron July 19, 2021 at 10:05 am

          My dog started yelping 3 days ago he walks ok have examined him and he did not yelp while I was examined him the first day he was walking backwards like he was backing on from something .he gives a yelp out roughly 3 to 4 times a day I can’t figure it out.he also looks very depressed I would say not his usual playful self he is a Welsh corgi

          1. Alyssa Silva September 26, 2021 at 2:45 am

            My dog started doing this a couple weeks ago. did you find out why your dog does this? Also a few times a day.

        2. Katie August 27, 2021 at 2:25 am

          Did you figure out what was wrong with your dog? Our dog is doing something similar.

      3. Kala L Syrie October 4, 2021 at 10:19 pm

        Same here my dog is doing the same. I’m starting to think he sees something I can’t kinda freaky

    2. nicole March 2, 2020 at 4:16 pm

      my dog, he keeps randomly yepling to! and he also is walking away from us and we dont knwo what is wrong with him x

    3. Jordan March 10, 2020 at 12:00 pm

      Did you figure out why your dog’s yelps?

    4. suchith April 1, 2020 at 10:13 am

      i have the same problem when she wakes up from laying she sound pain

      1. Jessica Brainerd April 30, 2020 at 8:00 pm

        My dog is suddenly doing the same thing… Everything else is normal.. Keep checking his whole body to see if something hurts but its only when he wakes up. He has a vet appt Monday but its a new vet and I cant go in with him because of the covid and he hates new people

        1. chanelle March 5, 2021 at 3:03 am

          did you ever figure out what was wrong? my dog is doing the same thing

    5. Jenny greaves June 7, 2020 at 6:52 pm

      My jack Russell yelps like something is hurting him and my vets vets arent open yet due to focus 19 and I have tried to get him comfy and he can’t just get settled at all

      1. Deborah July 6, 2020 at 1:37 pm

        Mine just started doing this today and I have a beagle/jack Russell mix. Did you ever find out what it could be? I’m worried about him because it’s not normal for him to do this.

        1. Pat O'Hara January 30, 2021 at 3:22 pm

          Your dog could have a ear infection

      2. Trish February 1, 2021 at 10:19 pm

        I have a 13 year old Jack Russell beagle mix that randomly yelps as well. More often than not it’s when she is interacting with someone, reaching /getting pets but upon physical inspection, never repeats the Yelp.
        One occurrence last year(different from the random outbursts) she was visibly distressed and would not put weight on one of her paws, and I thought she had injured herself until I started closely inspecting her poo & discovered that she had been eating the new silicone pellet cat litter we switched to. Barricading the cat liter box resolved that issue.

      3. Mistee April 14, 2021 at 4:42 am

        Definitely could be his muscles or arthritis 😭

        1. Deborah Kinney April 27, 2021 at 4:39 pm

          I have a Chihuahua mix (9 pounds). Yelps in pain in the morning. Shakes and whole body stiff. Burps and spurs up. Sometimes vomits. Vet gave 5 mg Pepcid AC in am and eve. Food is rice and boil chicken. Did not work. Full panel blood, x-rays normal. Trying anti nausea meds and prescrip protein food. If this doesn’t work I am thinking cramps.

    6. Pat O'Hara January 30, 2021 at 3:21 pm

      Your dog might have ear infection. If it’s shaking it’s head Alot then that’s the problem

    7. Ryan April 6, 2021 at 1:32 pm

      My Aussie was doing this for the first two hours after waking up. Finally, he threw up a lot of yellow stomach bile. He has since stopped yelping.

      1. Rose cameron July 19, 2021 at 10:03 am

        My dog started yelping 3 days ago he walks ok have examined him and he did not yelp while I was examined him the first day he was walking backwards like he was backing on from something .he gives a yelp out roughly 3 to 4 times a day I can’t figure it out.he also looks very depressed I would say not his usual playful self he is a Welsh corgi

        1. Marcie Smith August 11, 2021 at 5:30 pm

          Did you find out what caused this in your dog? Mine is doing the same.

      2. Jacob October 19, 2021 at 2:35 am

        Need to get him
        To a vet immediately that is not good could possibly be from eating things that are rotten or old or dead, my dog nearly died from this and was throwing up same yellow bile

  2. Sherry February 2, 2020 at 6:02 am

    I don’t know what it is or why. She is healthy and barley adopted her last month. She is about 2 months old. A few times she has yelped/screamed. At random. Yeah, it makes me feel like I am hurting her but then again just wonder if shes being vocal? Acts fine immediately after as her sweet self or goes back to playing. She has a clean bill of health but the random cries are non the less anxiety raising.

    1. Sherry February 2, 2020 at 6:06 am

      She is a Husky and Healer mix. Im here stressing and she is just having some play growls playing and is perfectly fine. Like she is talking. A lot of the times I wish communicating with animals full on was a capability. 🤦 Swear I’m not over here needing PETA called. She is such a spaz.

  3. Olivia March 1, 2020 at 1:48 am

    My dog does this about once a year. She will go through a phase where sudden touches will cause her to yelp. I’m thinking allergies, but she has no other symptoms. We’ve brought her to the vet several times. She is always normal. I don’t know what this is.

  4. Meghan fuller May 13, 2020 at 9:32 am

    SO yesterday we found out that we couldn’t pick up my 6 year old Pomeranian and she is getting worse and she cant even move without yelping does anyone know what I can do?

    1. Wendy January 19, 2021 at 7:24 am

      Hey there! My dog seems to be going to something very similar to what your has been suffering through. It’s only been 2 days but out of the blue she is helping and crying for no reason we took her to the vet got tests, bloodwork and x-rays they found nothing and in the end just prescribing anti acids and some antibiotics. My poor baby is still in pain I can pet her softly but randomly any sudden moment or if she tries to get up she wimpers yelps and cries. Did you ever find any resolution to your puppies pain and suffering? Please help if you have any suggestions! I just don’t know what to do. 🙁

      1. Pat O'Hara January 30, 2021 at 3:20 pm

        Hey your dog might have a ear infection

      2. Lindsey August 7, 2021 at 5:30 pm

        I’m having the same problem with my poor girl. She is in heat so I thought maybe that’s what it is. It hurts my heart not knowing what going on. If I even get up too fast she yelps like shes been hurt.

        1. Christine Glover September 4, 2021 at 7:46 pm

          My dog does the same, just did it before, I don’t know why, took him to vet, he said it was anal glands so he expressed them, he’s on antibiotics at the moment coz he’s had diarrhea, been back to vet and he said he was a sensitive dog, it’s puzzling! I think he’s starting with arthritis, he’s going upstairs slowly, not like he used to when he would run up, but he runs down!!
          I’ve brushed him and he’s OK, I’ve examined all over his body and he’s OK.

      3. Jacob Gregory October 19, 2021 at 2:37 am

        Take to another vet

  5. Christine May 15, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    My dog does the same thing happen for no reason has anybody found a reason why they do it

  6. Rand Vance July 28, 2020 at 1:38 am

    I have a three year old Rottweiler that is going through this same thing. All if a sudden he just started running and yelping and I couldn’t see any injuries. But any time I get near hind legs. He starts growling at me. And he starts acting vicious. I can’t figure out what to do and can’t afford to take him to the vet with the COVID-19 situation. Any ideas?

    1. Chad Evans February 7, 2021 at 5:54 am

      Any update?

    2. Jaci Gilstrap March 11, 2021 at 1:48 am

      Is his tail docked?

  7. Loz August 17, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    I contacted the emergency vet for my dog during the covid lockdown. I explained I was on benefits and he recommended someone else as the fees for emergency during covid were almost triple! Hope it helps?!

  8. Mitzi Davis August 26, 2020 at 4:45 am

    My dogs six-year-old loss up so I will send she wakes up out of his sleep and he is like not having it with anybody touch it is lower back area Ed his belly area he walks and he kind a like it seems like he’s a balance but his buddy Kenny is in a U-shaped seems like he’s in a lot of pain what do I do please help me

    1. Jennifer August 22, 2021 at 4:04 pm

      My dog did the same thing last night! He was running around very nervous and panting then would stop for a minute and wouldn’t leave my side. Then Yelp and trot around the house panting. He was looking at his hind end, he did this for over a hour. Also screamed when I touched his tail. I’m not sure if it was severe constipation or worms? I gave him a probiotic and a Xanax and he finally got rest. He seems ok this morning. I am going to take to the vet hopefully on Monday. I will tell you all results when I find out.

  9. Ann September 12, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    I’ve observed this twice now since adopting my dog (Samoyed/Alaskan Husky mix) in February. Once in mid August, then the other day. Comes on suddenly, lasts for a day or two, then back to normal like all is fine. Doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why he does this and no one is ever able to find anything wrong with him. So frustrating. Wish he could talk to me!

  10. Zack September 28, 2020 at 4:49 am

    We have an 11 week old English Bulldog and are new pet parents. We took “Brooklyn” to the vet for her 2nd set of vaccinations (first time with us) this past Thursday. She has been lethargic for a days but has also started to cry out in pain with nothing going on then seems OK. Like I said she has been more lazy the past few days but she is eating just fine, and is drinking lots of water with her stool looking normal. We want to do the best thing for her but honestly. We don’t know what that means. Any advice would be much appreciated.

  11. Steve October 5, 2020 at 11:33 pm

    My Miniature Pinscher has same issues and he is 12-14 yrs old. I believe he may have pulled a muscle in his neck or back. I massage his neck gently and he seems to be getting better. I give him a joint supplement and have had him on that for years. He still loves walks and is eating and going number one and two as usual. I’m taking him to vet in a couple days. Any ideas?

  12. Robert Ghezelayagh October 20, 2020 at 12:49 am

    Our vet told us it was a sprained neck or muscle not sure about that they gave us medicine and she still Yelps suddenly

  13. Flor de maria Mejia October 27, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    My dog is crying in pain is a chihuahua 7 years old I don’t know what to do his appointment is tomorrow this is so sad I have to wait

  14. Mamma's October 29, 2020 at 12:47 am

    My dog is doing the same thing, she is a poodle 4 pounds, she is around 8 yrs old, she cries when u pick her up and start to licking her lip, can’t go and take her had lung cancer had surgery I’m been quarantine, cannot afford taking her to a vet, please helppppp

  15. Jane November 20, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    My experience with many dogs, it will nearly always be sudden severe pain and should be checked out if it persists? My dog sometimes yelps, specially when she is lying down, she jumps up and runs about as if something is chasing her? Vet X-ray shows she has elbow dysplasia, (sadly common in some breeds as is hip dysplasia) she may have stretched out the leg and elbow when asleep and the osteoarthritis that sets in the joint caused a sudden sharp pain. She is on regular Meticam and reduced exercise (especially no stairs and jumping down from the car, sofa etc ) loosing weight helps if dog is too heavy? Recently she suddenly started yelping/barking and running around uncontrollably , totally manic…. I then noticed next day her shake her head and it was sometimes tilted on one side; turns out she had a severe really painful middle ear infection that should always be treated ASAP with pain killers and antibiotics . So many causes, but it is nearly always sudden pain? We have vets PDSA that will always treat animals if owner can not afford fees?

  16. Jane November 20, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    Apart from arthritis and joints…Infected teeth are very conmen , especially in small dogs, untreated infection can spread throughout their body and as we know toothache is really awful; hopefully there is always a kind friend or neighbour than can take our babies to the vet if we are unable?

  17. Carol December 6, 2020 at 9:51 pm

    I have a 2 year old shih tzu puppy that will just Yelp and shiver in pain. I took her to emergency vet. 600.00 and nothing. Took her to her regular vet when she started again with the yelping. X-ray,blood tests everything you can do! Still found nothing! Close to a 1,000.00 she stills yelps and shivers in pain!

  18. Ana December 10, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    My 4 month old Beagle started yelping in pain yesterday. He’s completely normal otherwise and only yelps when laying down and changing position (therefore, my family members refuse to take him to the vet because they say there’s nothing to tell them apart from the fact that he yelps). Any thoughts?

    1. Sally Anne Shoebridge December 18, 2020 at 5:13 pm

      Hi I would still take your dog to the Vets as it sounds like a Skeletal problem and an X-ray will show this up. I have the same problem, she had X-rays yesterday but they came out fine. There are a few other thing it could be and I am glad I did the X-rays as u was starting to be scared to pick her up. Your vets will be able to help but you need to investigate so as you can, like me, start ruling things that it could be out…Regards

    2. Jacob Gregory October 19, 2021 at 2:41 am

      He’s obviously in pain tell them when he gets up and moves this dog needs to be checked ASAP!

    3. Monica October 22, 2021 at 6:12 am

      My one year old Beagle started randomly yelping this summer. The first time we were on a walk and she screamed, tucked her tail, and kept looking back at her hind quarters. She did it several times on the way home and people must have thought I was kicking her. Now she does this about once a week, same yelp, same reaching toward her hind area, tail, hips and then just as quickly snaps out of it. Then she looks scared and cowards down like something struck her. Vet says its idiopathic, unknown at this point, expressed her anal gland, but nothing shows up. She seems rather young for arthritis. My poor baby!

  19. Shereen December 12, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    My 16 year old mixed breed has been healthy but in last week or so helps for no apparent reason. Suddenly gets up from sleep yelping and startled. Very upsetting. The vet says she has arthritis. Taking medication has helped her to be more steady on her feet. Yelping continues occasionally. Worried.

    1. Diane G June 2, 2021 at 11:24 pm

      My 13 yr old dachshund is doing this now only when he sleeps, I’ve cried every time not knowing how to fix it. Dr gave him steroids, pain meds, and gabapentin yesterday, but he became a zombie😭 He is fine seconds after the episode but I need some sleep and so does he. Not sure what to do

  20. Sally Anne Shoebridge December 18, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    My mixed breed female, 5 year old has the same problems, intermittent yelping which lasts about 2 mins of frantic yelping. I had X-rays taken yesterday but they have come back clear. I had started to worry when I picked her up in fear that I could make her worse. Now the X-rays have proved negative at least I can remove that worry. However there are a few more investigations that I can have carried out.
    To all of the people who have posted here please don’t worry that you have very little to tell a vet, just make sure you visit one as you too need to start ruling out possible conditions. If you have no money due to the current Covid-19 situation as far a work goes, some vets will draw up a payment plan allowing you to spread the cost. Also if you live near a PDSA and get housing benefit you can get help from them, and you just make a donation if what you can afford. Don’t forget the RSPCA, or the Blue Cross will also help. Please don’t leave your dog without a trip to a vet…Good luck to everyone’s suffering dogs . 💖

  21. Mary Fanning February 20, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    My dog yelped this morning as if she was in pain. I had just given her and my other dog treats. She was a victim of extreme abuse. Her previous owner cut her ear off and beat her with a baseball bat, crushing her hips. She doesn’t have the ball joint area like we do. She was young when this happened. I think she’s about 6 years old now. I got her to get up and walk. Could the pain have been caused from hip pain or she has chronic ear infections (yeast infections) because she doesn’t have the ear part that protects against germs. I’m broke due to being laid off from covid but will do whatever it takes if she’s in pain. I’m going to call her vet at the emergency room that treated her. Is there something I can do now? I have her resting comfortably. I can’t tell if she’s in pain or not. I can’t take her being in even the slightest amount of pain. I cleaned her ears and it does appear that she has a yeast infection in it. I cleaned it out good. She’s resting and seems to be okay, but I don’t know what to do. Help!! Any suggestions??

    1. Sandra Hamilton March 18, 2021 at 9:08 pm

      Arthritis could be setting in. As far as her ear you might try an ear patch with air holes. I’ve seen them used for dogs that had that same situation of the ears being cut off.

  22. Jani Best June 5, 2021 at 8:05 pm

    Hi. Got my puppy 2 days ago. He is 7 weeks old and helps after eating or just suddenly while sleeping… had him at the vet twice, he gave an injection for cramps, but I think it is more than that..

  23. Danny Jackson August 9, 2021 at 5:59 am

    Hey my puppy whine out randomly. SHe want eat much r drink and not active .Please tell me what to do r some1 give me some advice . No money 4 vet please help

  24. Danny Jackson August 9, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Hey my puppy whine out randomly. She want eat much r drink and not active .Please tell me what to do r some1 give me some advice . No money 4 vet please help

  25. Angelina Chavez August 13, 2021 at 5:30 am

    I have 2 new dogs in my house and all of a sudden he started yelping he’s a chiwinne and he here’s a noise and he’s in my room in his bed and starts yelping like he’s in pain any suggestions

    1. William Hughes September 28, 2021 at 4:44 am

      What a shame that so very many people here have the same situation with a smaller dog….dozens of questions, but no answers.

  26. Judy October 17, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Our fur baby (5 year old Boston terrier x French bulldog) started yelping randomly last week. Sometimes it would be when I wiped his front paw, or when we picked him, when his ear was touched, or even just sitting beside him. Most times after he yelped he would start shaking (he’s a very sensitive soul). This went on for 5 days. It didn’t happen every time he was touched so I was quite confused as to the cause of his pain. I investigated every square inch of his body but could find no reason for his very apparent distress. I knew something was not right so we took him to our holistic vet. It turned that one of the vertebrae in his neck was out of alignment causing a pinched nerve. After having a chiropractic adjustment and an acupuncture treatment he was back to his normal self showing no signs of discomfort/distress.

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