“My dog shrieks for no reason. What should I do?” Many dog owners ask this question when their dog suddenly starts screaming.
When your dog suddenly screams, it can set off a ton of worries as you wonder what’s wrong with them. Of course, some pet owners may think that their dogs shriek for no reason, but that’s rarely the case.
If your dog is screaming, there’s a reason behind it, and it’s important to find out what it is and intervene if necessary.
Your dog may scream in different situations and for various reasons, not just pain, and we’ll explore the most common instances of this behavior.
Dog Screaming When Picked Up
Does your dog scream when picked up? Do they usually do this, or did it catch you by surprise because they usually like it when you pick them up?
If your dog screams any time they’re picked up, it can indicate that they don’t like physical contact. Some dogs are clingy, while others like their personal space and don’t like it when you touch them. Screaming is a way to let their displeasure known, and in this case, they’ll calm down once you let them go.
A dog can also shriek after being picked up due to physical and emotional trauma they suffered before. This is common with former rescue dogs who’ve not undergone socialization training. In such a case, you’ll need to train your dog and get them used to you before they can allow you to pick them up without resisting.
Injury, Improper Holding, and Surprise
If your dog, who typically loves physical contact, suddenly screams when you pick them up, it’s a sign of new development, usually concerning their health. The most common reason behind this is pain caused by an injury or illness.
When you pick them up, you might trigger pain sensations in injured or diseased muscles and joints, causing them to shriek in pain.
Another reason could be that you’re holding them improperly. Many dogs, especially smaller breeds, are very delicate, and holding them in the wrong position could cause them discomfort and pain. Improper handling of dogs includes lifting them by the tail, armpits, scruff, belly, or collar.
When holding your small dog, always support their back legs with one hand and chest with the other. Also, hold them against your chest to reduce the strain on their back. If the improper holding is the reason behind their screaming, they’ll stay calm when you lift them properly. It’s important to teach small kids how to hold dogs to ensure they don’t harm them unknowingly.
A dog who normally doesn’t mind being picked up can scream when held by strangers. This happens if your dog is afraid of unfamiliar people or gets anxious when they touch them.
Surprise can also cause dogs to scream when you pick them up. Think about it: how would you react if someone picks you up all of a sudden, without you noticing them at first?
Dogs are also susceptible to this element of surprise and will respond by shrieking. Avoid this by ensuring your dog is aware of your presence before attempting to lift them.
It’s important to consider all possibilities for why your dog screams when picked up to save them the anxiety, pain, or discomfort. If you suspect they shriek because they are in pain, get them to the veterinarian for a checkup.
Related Article: Old Dog Attacking New Puppy.
What About When Your Dog Screams Suddenly Without Being Picked Up?
There’s a wide range of reasons your dog can scream suddenly without being picked up. These are either emotional or physical stressors, while others should not cause any alarm. Here’s a list of reasons your dog may scream without being held.
Muscle Pain and Cramps
Many dogs experience muscle pain at certain points in their lives, which is especially common among older dogs at a high risk of developing arthritis.
Your dog may also experience muscle pain because of dehydration, injuries, or hormonal diseases. Resting in one position for an extended period can lead to painful cramps. When the pain hits, they’re likely to scream.
There’s nothing to worry about if your dog is screaming because of a regular muscle cramp. But if the pain is due to a joint or muscle ailment, you should get them checked.
If your dog is suffering from some illness, it might scream from discomfort or pain. Accompanying symptoms such as wheezing, panting, and weakness can help you realize when they’re crying due to being ill.
A dog screaming because of sickness is a sign that you should get them to a doctor as soon as possible for an examination.
Insect Bites and Stings
Insect bites can be extremely painful to dogs, depending on the insect involved. So, it’s no surprise that sometimes, your dog might scream as a result of being bitten.
Bees, wasps, and ants are insects that can cause a sudden onset of pain when they sting. These insects can also cause allergic reactions in your dog, leading to uncomfortable symptoms such as hives, swelling, and redness.
Some pets may vomit, have diarrhea, or collapse after being bitten by bees. If your pet exhibits severe symptoms after being stung, seek professional advice immediately.
Like humans, dogs can experience seizures too. A seizure happens when there is an abnormal level of electrical activity in the brain, which leads to a loss of body control. When a dog has an episode, its body will stiffen, and it may have convulsions.
While seizures are not painful, the experience causes panic and confusion, causing your pet to scream. When your dog is having a seizure, it’s best to ensure they don’t injure themselves by removing any obstacles around them. After the attack passes, it’ll help to calm them down.
You can also watch out for signs of an impending seizure to ensure your dog is safe when it happens. Before having a seizure, dogs may seem frightened, stressed, or confused.
While seizures usually don’t cause any harm to dogs, they are typically signs of more worrying conditions such as metabolic disorders and epilepsy.
Dogs are prone to anxiety, especially when they find themselves in an unfamiliar environment or uncomfortable situation. Screaming is one of the ways their anxious feelings manifest.
They may suddenly scream when they hear loud noises, find themselves in a new place, or are among strangers.
Dogs also scream due to separation anxiety when their owner leaves them behind. Such anxiety usually manifests when the owner leaves for work in the morning. Alongside screaming, an anxious dog might scratch walls and doors or chew excessively.
You can help your dog get over their separation anxiety through behavior training. Some of the behavioral treatments that work include keeping your dog engaged in your absence and gradually getting them used to your short absences so they don’t get anxious when you leave for longer periods.
A bored canine is likely to scream to get your attention. Dogs become bored when they don’t get mental or physical stimulation, and they’ll try to get your attention by screaming.
Screaming is their way of telling you that they’re badly in need of playtime or exercise. So, if your dog suddenly shrieks, ask yourself whether you’ve been neglecting them.
Other behaviors that could point to boredom in dogs include digging, whining, and tail chasing. They can also indulge in destructive activities like chewing inappropriate items around the house.
If your dog woke up screaming, there’s a huge chance that it’s because of a dream they were having. Like humans, dogs can fall into a deep sleep and have vivid dreams.
Dogs typically dream about interactions that happen during the day, and they’ll scream in their sleep if their dreams are intense. While you might want to disrupt whatever nightmare your dog is having, it’s best to let them be.
When a dog is sleeping, waking them abruptly could cause them to react instinctively by biting you or attacking with claws.
Their adventurous dreams, whether sweet or disturbing, don’t pose any risk to them, so just let them sleep. If your dog appears to be having a lot of nightmares, it will help to examine instead what could be stressing them out when they’re awake. By getting rid of negative experiences in their daily lives, you’ll help them avoid stressful nightmares.
Dogs don’t always scream for negative reasons. Sometimes, they scream because they’re too excited. Other types of body language that should alert you to an excited canine are tail wagging, flipping on their stomach, and even barking.
Your dog could be excited for many reasons, such as when you come back home from work, take them to their favorite dog park, or when they’re having fun at exercise.
Conclusion for Why Does My Dog Suddenly Scream?
Screaming is one of the ways dogs can communicate their feelings. So as a dog owner, it’s vital to learn and recognize what this means. When your dog suddenly screams, you should try to determine whether they’re in pain, bored, or feeling something else. You can always reach out to your veterinarian for some professional insight when unsure.
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Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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