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Why Yelping and Shaking Occurs in Dogs

It is not normal for your dog to be yelping and shaking. When you notice this behavior, you need to examine your dog and determine if it was fear that caused the behavior or if it was a medical condition that needs to be assessed by your veterinarian.


Pain can cause your dog to yelp and shake. Your dog may be feeling pain in any part of their body but generalized pain in their neck or abdomen is especially frightening for your dog. Dogs that have been babied and are softer in nature will be more apt to yelp and shake when they are feeling pain. Certain breeds, such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Labradors are notoriously stoic and will not show pain often.


Dogs that are naturally softer in temperament will be more prone to anxiety issues including yelping and shaking when they feel anxious. Many times anxiety will stem from some type of environmental factor. When your dog’s environment returns back to normal the anxiety will lessen.


Dogs that are suffering from poisoning can yelp and shake because they are scared and feeling extremely sick. If you suspect your dog has ingested poison of any kind, you need to immediately contact your veterinarian for an emergency visit. Common toxins that dogs get into include chocolate, xylitol and nicotine.

Fear or Trauma

Many people assume that anxiety and fear are the same thing, however, a dog can be anxious without being actually fearful. Fear can stem from a past trauma or experience that has stayed with them and they will begin yelping and shaking when they are confronted with something that triggers the memory of their past trauma or experience. Some dogs, for example, may yelp and tremble when on the vets tablet as they are fearful of an injection.

Joint or Muscle Problems

Joint and muscle problems are painful. These conditions, such as arthritis, degenerative myelopathy or degenerative joint disease will cause your dog to yelp or shake when they move or attempt to get up. Your veterinarian will work with you to set up a pain management plan for your dog.

Seizure activity

When a dog has a seizure they may have a partial or full tonic-clonic seizure. Some dogs may only have mild tremors of the jaw while others may lay on their side, paddle and vocalise. A dog who has had a fit should be seen by a vet for investigation, to determine what is going on and if treatment may be required.

Why Dogs Yelp When Touched Or Moved

A dog that yelps without an obvious reason usually has neck or back pain. Almost all other causes of yelping show extra symptoms such as limping or a poor appetite.

It’s hardest to tell spinal pain from abdominal pain. Back pain often causes obvious referred pain to the abdomen, with a very tight, hard and painful belly. The clue is that dogs with spinal pain usually eat normally, as miserable and lethargic as they are. Dogs with abdominal pain are usually off their food.

Two other conditions that cause yelping might be sometimes also occur. The first is a severe ear infection. These dogs have ‘got used’ to the pain but if you brush the side of the head they yelp.

What to do if your Dog is Yelping and Shaking

When your dog begins yelping and shaking, you need to stop and assess the situation. If you feel your dog is in need of medical attention, contact your veterinarian immediately for an appointment. If you feel that your dog is suffering from fear or anxiety, try to calm your dog without feeding into their fear or anxiety. Your veterinarian may be able to suggest things to try to keep your dog calm.

When you take your dog in to see your veterinarian, they will do a full assessment to figure out what is causing your dog to yelp and shake. Several diagnostic tests will probably be needed if the cause is not immediately found. Once a diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian will come up with a treatment plan for your dog.

Medications may be required as well as other therapies and/or surgery depending on the cause of your dog’s yelping and shaking. Long-term pain management plans may be necessary to alleviate your dog’s pain and suffering from joint or muscle problems.

Preventing your dog from yelping and shaking may not be possible all of the time if they are naturally anxious or fearful. Reassuring them that all is well with their world will be important as well as adding natural supplements or anxiety medications that will help them be calm. It is also generally advised to work alongside a veterinary behaviourist.

Regular visits to see your veterinarian is important to catch any changes in your dog’s health. Joint and muscle problems can sometimes be diagnosed early and a treatment plan set in place to give them a more pain-free life for a longer period of time.

The cost to treat a medical condition can vary greatly depending on the diagnosis and your location. Diagnostic testing can be expensive and can range from $200 to $2000. Pain management plans can cost around $1600.

Worried about the cost of treating your pets symptoms?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

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