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Why Does Your Dog Scream?

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

Having a dog in the house is like having another family member around. Dogs provide love, affection, and companionship without asking for much. Dogs help make a house feel more like home.

Hearing a sudden scream or yelp from your pet can scare you, sending worries racing through your head. As your dog looks up to you, their eyes begging for help, you wonder what the problem is, let alone the solution.

When you’re asking “why did the dog scream,” here are some of the possible causes

Dog scream

Why Did The Dog Scream?

1. An Illness is Acting Up

Dogs can come down with illnesses or diseases, even if they are young. A yelp could be a cry for help from your dog because they can’t solve whatever health issue they’re having.

Look for some other symptoms if for dog screaming to help you:

  • Wheezing
  • Frequent panting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weakness

These are the common symptoms for many health conditions dogs suffer from. If you see one or more of these symptoms, then call your veterinarian and see one these symptoms are the start of something bigger.

If you want to skip the call, taking your dog to the vet will get them there in the vet’s office ready for an exam.

2. Their Anxiety Flares Up

Just like us, dogs can experience anxiety. When your dog is trying to process a lot of information, they might yelp or scream as a way to call attention to what’s bothering them.

While the specific reasons differ, changes to the environment tend to be the source of anxiety to dogs. Loud noises, strangers, and rearranging the house can set your dog’s mind off.

Dogs are smart and pick up on these changes quickly, so anxiety can be the process your dog uses to process these changes. Just like people get overwhelmed, so can your dog!

3. Sudden Joint or Muscle Pain

If your dog screams when touched it might have a sudden muscle spasm or cramp, and the shock of the sensation can make your dog scream for help. Just like when a person yells out when they get a leg or stomach cramp, your dog has a similar reaction to that kind of pain.

Older dogs that suffer from arthritis can do the same. Arthritis is inflammation in the joints, which can be painful when you move that joint. When your dog calls out in pain, they may have moved their joint in a way that aggravates their arthritis.

4. A Seizure Starts

Sadly, dogs can suffer from seizures, just like humans do. A seizure is when the brain undergoes abnormal activity. This activity causes the body’s muscles to stiffen or convulse for a short time. This is one of the scariest things to witness as a pet owner, but the good news is that seizures aren’t generally fatal.

Your dog will yelp when the seizure first begins to come over them. It’s a warning about what is coming and how they need help. If you see any restlessness or disorientation in your dog, it could be a sign that a seizure is coming.

Make sure your dog is away from anything they could bump into before they seize and comfort your dog when they come out of it.

5. Excitement

Many breeds of dogs are very excitable, and sometimes, a dog screams for no reason. They love to be active or get excited when strangers come by. After all, those strangers could be new play partners!

If your dog gets excited over something, they might scream or bark to express their excitement. It’s their way of expressing their emotions. For most breeds, this bark will be paired with some happy body language.

Tail wagging or running towards the source of their excitement could be some of these telltale signs. Since this isn’t a problem, remember this tidbit as a reason why your pup might be yelping!

An Excited Dog
Excited Dog

6. Bored and Wants to Play

Similar to being excited, your dog could be screaming to get your attention for some playtime. Dogs like getting exercise during their day, making play a great way to burn off some of their energy. It’s also a great way to bond with them!

If your dog does this often, you might not be exercising them enough. Talk to your vet and see how much exercise you should be giving your dog. Then, do what you can to meet that guideline so your dog has one less thing to complain about!

7. Surprise

Have you ever yelled because something snuck up on you? Dogs can do the same thing when something surprises them. It’s a natural reaction to getting spooked.

Ideally, this doesn’t happen very often. Your dog should feel comfortable in their home, so this should only happen when something startles them awake or a loud noise rings out. You don’t want to scare your dog too much since this can lead to things like anxiety and avoidance.

8. Waking Up From a Dream

Dogs can go into a deep sleep, just like humans. While in this deep sleep, dogs will dream about all sorts of things. These dreams can cause your dog to bark or scream while asleep.

They do so to react to what’s going on in their dreams. All of this is normal and doesn’t require you to do anything about it.

So, make sure you don’t try to wake or comfort your dog while they are in their dream. Suddenly startling your dog like this can cause them to lash out in surprise with a bite or their claws.

Let your dog rest and they’ll be fine when their dream passes.


So, why did the dog scream? Your dog can scream for several reasons. Whether because of health issues, fear, boredom, or dreams, your dog will vocalize its emotions.

As the owner, it’s up to you to figure out why your dog is screaming and react accordingly. Dogs rely on us to help take care of them, so we have to be mindful of their needs and do what we can for our furry friends!

About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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