Why Is Your Dog Yelping For No Reason? (11 Possible Causes)

golden retriever yelping

Discovering why your dog is yelping for no reason can be puzzling and concerning.

A yelp often signals distress or pain, but the reasons may vary widely. From joint issues to anxiety, numerous factors might be at play.

This article delves into the different causes of your dog’s yelping, offering insights and solutions to address this worrying behavior about your dog.

11 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Randomly Yelping

Your dog yelps to talk to you but it’s difficult when you don’t know what’s wrong.

It’s frustrating not being able to help your dog when you can’t determine the cause for the yelping.

These possible reasons can help point you in the right direction.

1. Joint Or Muscle Pain

The padding between your dog’s spinal cord can deteriorate with age or rupture from a back injury.

Based on my experience, having some sort of joint or muscle pain is one main cause of a dog’s yelping.

Dogs can develop acute or chronic pain due to physical injury, trauma, weird sleeping position or age-related changes, just to name a few.

Cervical IVDD

Cervical IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease) is another term for a slipped disc or pinched nerve in dogs along the spine.

If you have ever suffered from any kind of pinched nerve, you know how random the sharp pain can be

The padding between your dog’s spinal cord can deteriorate with age or rupture from a back injury.

When this happens, it can cause pain and discomfort to your dog and affect its mobility.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Walking with a limp
  • Back and neck pain
  • Unable to lift its neck
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Shivering
  • Paralysis or weakened muscles

The best way to treat dogs with IVDD is with pain meds and some dogs may even benefit from surgery.

The earlier your dog is treated, the better the chances of the dog being free of the pain and being able to return to an active lifestyle.

Canine Arthritis

Most dog owners think that canine arthritis only happens to dogs that are old.

Arthritis in dogs is the condition when the cartilage or tissue between the dog’s joints starts to wear down or is destroyed.

This will cause friction between the bones which leads to joint pain and subsequent mobility issues as well.

Most dog owners think that canine arthritis only happens to older dogs.

Not entirely true.

Canine arthritis is also caused by birth defects, bacterial and fungal infections, auto-immune disorders and obesity.

The most commonly affected joints are the:

  • Hips
  • Lower back
  • Knees
  • Elbows

Symptoms of canine arthritis include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Reluctance to move about
  • Pain when walking or climbing objects
  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Restlessness

There isn’t any cure for canine arthritis

But if any underlying cause can be found, that should be treated and managed appropriately under the care of your vet.

The best form of treatment is to manage and help slow down the degeneration of the joints.

The vet will give your dog pain medication to help manage any joint pain.

Physical therapy and joint supplements are good ways to help your dog strengthen its joints.

Glucosamine, chondroitin and Omega 3 fatty acids are supplements that you can consider. But make sure to check with your vet first.

Some dogs may have to undergo surgery if the pain is too severe.

2. Bloated Stomach

sad looking pmmeranian on bed

A bloated stomach in your dog can develop suddenly and without warning.

This happens when the dog’s stomach gets filled too quickly with food or liquid and becomes bloated or grossly enlarged.

The bloated stomach can become life-threatening when it twists or folds onto itself.

This cuts off important blood supply to the major organs and other parts of the dog’s body.

It is a very painful condition that can cause your dog to yelp out in pain.

Common causes for canine bloat are:

Symptoms of canine bloat are:

  • Swollen looking stomach
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pacing and restlessness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Unable to stand

Deep-chested dogs, like the Great Dane, St. Bernard, Irish Setter, German Shepherd and Basset Hound are more prone to getting stomach bloat.

If you have a Great Dane that looks underweight, do not overfeed your dog too much food in one sitting.

Instead, space out more frequent, smaller meals to prevent your Great Dane from getting canine bloat.

Surgery is the best way to treat dogs whose stomachs have twisted to prevent the condition from worsening.

If you suspect that your dog has a bloated stomach, please take it to the vet immediately as it can turn life-threatening very quickly.

3. Fear And Anxiety

Understanding your dog’s past can help you identify triggers of such anxiety.

Not all dogs yelp because of pain. Some dogs will yelp out of fear and anxiety.

Your dog may have suffered from past trauma or an accident that sends it into an anxious state when triggered.

Loud noises such as fireworks, backfire from a motorcycle or a lawn mower can make a dog anxious very quickly.

Some dogs may even scream out in fear when having a bad dream about past trauma.

If you have recently adopted or fostered a rescue dog that had been abused or neglected, it may exhibit some random yelping when left alone due to separation anxiety.

Understanding your dog’s past can help you identify triggers of such anxiety.

For such dogs, pet parents should try and make arrangements for someone to be around the dog for most parts of the day.

Leaving the television or radio on for them as background noise can help soothe their nerves.

Leaving an anxious dog alone for long periods can lead to destructive behavior inside the house or tearing up the furniture.

This can cause not only material damage but the dog may injure itself in the process.

Treatment for such dogs usually includes behavioral therapy and anti-anxiety medications and supplements depending on the severity of the symptoms.

If you are not sure what is triggering your dog’s anxiety or fear, you need to seek professional help.

4. Impacted Anal Glands

Located just inside the opening of your dog’s anus are its anal glands.

Anal glands are like a dog’s information center.

They contain a strong-smelling liquid that gives other dogs information about the dog they are sniffing.

Normally a dog will empty or express its anal gland contents when defecating or when startled.

However, anal glands can become impacted due to an infection and blockage.

The infected anal glands may start to leak thick brown smelly liquid and smell bad or become swollen and clogged.

Fluids in the anal glands can leak onto your dog’s bed while it’s sleeping.

Dogs with infected anal glands may drag their bums across the floor to try and soothe the discomfort.

This action is known as ‘scooting’.

Or the dog may whip around suddenly and try to bite at its hind end.

Take your dog to the vet if its anal glands are impacted.

It is painful and the vet needs to express the glands to drain out the contents.

A course of antibiotics may be necessary to clear out the infection and anti-inflammatories for comfort.

5. Ear Infection

ear mite infection in dog

Many dogs will get an ear infection every now and then.

Dog breeds with long floppy ears, for example, Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, etc are more prone to ear infections.

Ear infections in dogs can be caused by:

  • Bacteria infection
  • Yeast infection
  • Wax buildup
  • Ear mites
  • Excess moisture in the ear canal
  • Allergies

Not only are ear infections really itchy but they can be quite painful too especially if the infection is affecting the middle or inner ear canal.

Some dog owners swear by using coconut oil as a natural remedy for ear infections in dogs.

However, I strongly recommend that you take your dog to the vet for treatment if it’s a serious ear infection.

The dog may need anti-inflammatories for comfort and the vet may be able to help determine an underlying cause to prevent recurring ear infections.

I make it a point to clean my dog’s ears weekly to keep infections at bay.

A good soothing ear cleanser should have salicylic acid as the active ingredient.

6. Static Shock From The Carpet

This is something not that many dog owners would suspect but it has happened before to both me and my dog.

Static shocks happen when two different materials rub against each other and build up a charge.

Once the charge reaches a certain threshold, it will discharge itself when you try to touch something and give you a shock.

It is no fun getting shocked out of the blue and it happens pretty often during the drier winter months.

Remember, your dog usually has a lot more hair than you do, so more surface area to build up charges.

It could be due to these random shocks that are causing your dog to yelp out in pain.

One effective way to reduce static shocks is to place a humidifier in the room to add more moisture to the atmosphere and make the air less dry.

7. Constipation

dog holding poop overnight

Constipation can be painful for your dog if it has not defecated for days.

It will be yelping while straining to poop.

Constipation in dogs is caused by:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Bad diet
  • Old age
  • Lack of water
  • Intestinal obstruction

You should bring your dog to the vet if it has not had a bowel movement for more than 48 hours.

Your dog should be back to normal after an enema or mild laxatives from the vet.

8. Your Dog Is Still A Puppy

This is normal behavior for young dogs as they learn to communicate their needs and emotions.

If you have a dog that is still less than a year old, yelping is part of its natural development.

New dog owners need to understand that puppies will often yelp and bark to attract the attention of their mothers.

Puppies use yelping to express a range of emotions, from excitement and playfulness to discomfort due to teething.

It’s also a response to fear, anxiety, or simply a way to seek attention.

This is normal behavior for young dogs as they learn to communicate their needs and emotions.

As they grow older this form of vocalization tends to lessen as it approaches adulthood, a sign of maturity.

Although yelping is normal behavior for many puppies, excessive yelping might indicate underlying health issues or the need for behavior modification.

If your puppy’s yelping is accompanied by other signs of distress, you should have a word with your vet.

9. Attention Seeking

Your dog is a lot smarter than you give it credit for.

It knows what it needs to do when it wants to get your attention at this very instant.

Most dogs will frequently start barking, yelping or even pawing at their owners just to get their attention.

If you consistently respond to your dog’s attention-seeking yelps, it will begin to equate yelping with getting a reaction.

It’s important to know when your dog yelps for attention or when it has a medical condition.

10. Doggie Needs To Potty

Yelping in your dogs can sometimes be a straightforward signal of communication.

It needs to go to the bathroom.

Your dog might have a regular schedule for its potty break.

But when ‘the call of nature’ arises, your dog has got to answer it.

This is common for puppies who have yet to be properly house-trained. Furthermore, puppies can’t hold it in as long as older dogs.

A puppy can control their bladder one hour for every month of age.

Your dog is yelping to get your attention so that it can potty outside and not make a mess inside.

If they are positioned near the door or yelping, whining or barking, it’s a strong indication that they need to go outside.

11. An Insect Bite

centipede

It’s not uncommon for dogs to be bitten or stung by insects.

This can happen at home or when you are out and about with your dog.

An unexpected sting or bite can cause sharp pain, leading to a situation where your dog is yelping in discomfort

It’s not possible to 100% protect your dog from insect bites but there are a few things that you can do to lower the risk.

I keep my dog away from damp and dark grassy areas to avoid insects such as spiders, scorpions, and centipedes.

Although most insect bites are harmless, venomous insects that can cause serious health problems.

Symptoms of an insect bite include:

  • Yelping in pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling at the bite site
  • Licking of the bite area

If you think that your dog might have been bitten by an insect but have no idea what it was, it might be better to get your dog to the veterinary clinic for a check.

This is to make sure that the bite wasn’t from a venomous insect.

Flea and tick control is also important to prevent the more annoying, persistent bites of these topical parasites.

If not addressed, dogs sensitive to bug bites can lead to a flea infestation in your home, causing significant discomfort for both you and your pet.

When Should I Take My Dog To The Vet For Yelping?

There’s no need to panic when you start to hear your dog yelping out of the blue.

Some dogs are just more vocal than others.

When I hear my dog yelping, I will go over to my dog to assess the situation first.

I will make sure that he’s not physically hurt or triggered by something dangerous or threatening.

However, if your dog is yelping persistently or showing signs of illness a visit to the vet is needed.

Look out for the following signs:

  • Whimpering or yelping
  • Limping or reluctance to move
  • Changes in eating or drinking habits
  • Unusual aggression or irritability
  • Excessive licking of a specific area
  • Changes in posture
  • Decreased activity or lethargy
  • Shivering or shaking
  • Panting heavily without physical exertion
  • Avoiding touch or hiding
  • Dilated pupils or changes in eye appearance
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Restlessness or inability to get comfortable
  • Vocalizing more than usual

The above symptoms could mean an underlying physical or psychological issue in your dog.

FAQ

Why Is My Old Dog Yelping For No Reason?

Older dogs often face health issues that can lead to yelping, including joint or bone problems and canine cognitive dysfunction among others. These dogs may yelp due to fear or confusion, struggling with memory or simple tasks or primary discomfort.

Why Is My Dog Yelping For No Reason At Night?

Your dog may yelp at night due to discomfort, anxiety or the need to go outside. Night-time yelping could also indicate health issues like pain or canine cognitive dysfunction.

Why Is My Dog Yelping In Pain?

Your dog may yelp in pain due to injuries, joint or muscle pain, ear infections or dental issues among others. It’s important to observe any other symptoms such as limping, excessive licking or changes in behavior.  If you are concerned your canine companion is having a problem, check with your vet.

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