Help! My Dog Yelps & Shakes For No Reason

Updated November 29, 2020

‘At a glance’ (details below)

Why Dogs Yelp, Cry or Shake Suddenly

  • Acute pain is the cause of most yelping ‘for no reason’
  • The majority of unexplained cases have neck or back pain
  • It can happen when moving, when touched or even while sleeping
  • Some of these dogs are at risk of IVDD

Now dive deeper…

I’m sorry about the comic picture above. Yelping is no laughing matter. Dogs can go on for years before their suffering is recognised.

dog neck pain

This is Chi Chi. I don’t expect you to see it yet, but this dog is clearly in terrible pain. At home he would suddenly yelp without obvious reason, and shake all over. An internet search didn’t give the right answer, so let’s set the record straight…

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.

The second is anxiety.

Signs Of Neck or Back Pain

Have a look at Chi Chi again. The first thing to see is that unusual head posture. No matter what, he keeps his head bent down and tries to only move his eyes to look around. This is a classic sign of neck pain.

Back pain is harder to see, but there is usually some degree of back arching. together with a rock-hard abdomen. For both necks and backs, dogs will be reluctant to move and probably not be jumping up at all. Remember, they should be otherwise fine.

Warning: dogs don’t usually yelp while you examine them, so you can easily do a lot of harm without realising. All a vet looks for is the subtle difference in muscle tension between these dogs and normal patients. Here’s why it matters…

The Dangers

Visit our page on back problems and IVDD to see a dog who could easily have died if his owners didn’t react properly. Many cases of spinal pain have unstable intervertebral discs that can rupture into the spinal cord. You need a vet to recognise which ones these are and take immediate action.

Vet care usually starts with a physical, a neurological exam and x-rays. This helps us decide whether your dog:

  1. can be treated just with medicines
  2. also needs cage rest (bed rest)
  3. needs immediate referral to a specialist surgeon

Thankfully, the third choice is the least common. It is necessary when there is a risk of:

  • permanent nerve damage
  • ongoing pain not easily managed by treatment
  • repeated episodes.

Treatment of Neck & Back Pain

Just like spinal pain in people, not all cases are serious. The minimum treatment is good pain control, usually via anti-inflammatories and opiates or gabapentin. Owners are also asked to keep their dogs rested until better, and to use harnesses instead of collars for restraint.

good fitting harness

Pictured is the Perfect Fit harness, which I recommend for these dogs.

Despite Chi Chi’s severe pain, he was suitable for home care and made a full recovery. Only time will tell if his problem will come back, and we’ll be there if it does.

One last thing needs saying: most dogs with unexplained yelping are overweight. Regardless of the cause, quality of life almost always improves if owners can just be strong. Follow this link for positive, non-judgmental advice on weight loss in dogs. You won’t regret it!

Note: Thanks for all the comments. These are now closed but you should find all the common questions answered if you scroll through them!

Have something to add? Comments (if open) will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. Meet his team here. The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

99 Replies to “Help! My Dog Yelps & Shakes For No Reason”

  1. Hello, I have a 14 year old min pin who is crying out in his sleep first and now he doesn’t want his neck area or his tail touched. The tip of his tail is suddenly crooked and there’s a couple spots losing hair? He is over weight . We also just moved into a new house and there’s less stairs but he is struggling worse with the 2 he has to get up to get into bedroom.

    1. Hi Virena. It sounds like there’s a lot going on, and he‘s likely to need pain medication.

    2. Hi, I have a 5 1/2 year old English Bulldog. He started yelping about 2 months ago. It started getting worse so I took him to the vet in Tijuana Mexico since I live in San Diego and it’s cheaper. They did x rays and said everything look good and they also did blood tests and everything came back good other than inflammation. He walks really slow and doesn’t run at all anymore. He used to be super energetic. Whenever you call him to come to you or follow you he just stays where he’s at either sitting down or in an awkward pose. He started eating less as well. We noticed at the beginning when we would touch him by his back legs he would Yelp. But now he could be by himself and Yelp. It seems like he gets a cramp or something. The vet gave me an anti inflammatory which helped a little bit because he was moving a little more but he was still yelping and not eating as much. I went today to the vet and she gave me these pills that are vitamins and medicine in one. They are called carti pets 25, they contain glucosamine, condroitin, and hyaluronic acid. Hopefully this helps. Any suggestions?

      1. Hi Alex. That’s a tough one, and I have one extra suggestion that is pure conjecture but worth considering. The presence of the unexplained yelping, the general slowness, the lack of a specific leg being affected, eating less and the inflammation make me wonder about infection in the spine. It’s rare, but I’ve seen it from time to time and it’s very hard to identify. It just may be worth (even if spinal x-rays didn’t show any lesions) trying a long course of an antibiotic that can reach the bone. Talk to your vet about choices, but they don’t have to be expensive.

  2. I have a female Rottweiler and she just got out of her heat. Her and her sister got into a scuff his morning, but it wasn’t bad at all just lots of barking. Now she sits or lays down in one spot and won’t move even if I have food. She also yelps when I touch her thigh but only if she’s standing. She won’t Yelp if I feel around when she’s sitting. I don’t know what to do please help me out.

  3. When my chi is sleeping…when he starts to kick his legs and starts crying like bloody murder it sounds bad. He stops after a minute or so but he then has a lazy right back leg…like he had a stroke but it isn’t. He gets better and then it happens again sometimes at night sleeping. Please help he is my only true friend.

    1. Hi Douglas. That sounds more like a seizure, either partial or generalised. It’s worth consulting with your local vet to try and stop these from happening.

  4. My 6 year old Woodle bexley woke us up yelping in pain. We thought possibly a bad dream. He is very healthy 35-40lbs active dog witH no obvious cause for sudden pain. Today is day one and we are watching him closely. My other dog just grabbed a toy and it squeaked and bexley started to bark and then stopped to make a small squeal, very small. He’s in pain but I can not localize it.

    1. Hi Stephen. The best advice I can give is found in this article – you found the right place. Good luck.

    2. when I was walking my 1 year old dog outside for a walk she yelped!
      and she was lifting up 1 of her feet while shaking I didn’t know why she yelped but it has happend for 2 days and I am very worried

  5. Hi my border collie is male and 12 years old usually very vocal barks at everything I came home from work few days ago he’s cowering in a corner yelps for no reason randomly panting so fast all the time he allowed us to lift his paws and back legs no yelping he lies down almost all the time he will get up and go out side if repeatedly called but is obviously in acute pain he has bitten my husband if he gets to close but I have young children so I’m nervous of his temper I have an emergency mobile vet coming out tomorrow but I can’t really tell him more than this his appetite is good but he will only eat out of ur hand which he’s never done

    1. Hi Gemma. It sounds like you’re reading the right information – I’m glad you’re getting a vet out as he definitely needs help. Good luck.

  6. My mom has a 7-year-old male Maltipoo. After my dad passed away about 6 months ago, it started to yelp without obvious reasons. He yelps when he gets excited to see me. He also yelps when I opened my car door to let him off. These all happened without even touching it. He also started to squat on his rear legs when I try to wipe his feet after a walk outside. He was standing on all four legs before. I touched here and there to see he has any pain but he was fine then. The third change is he got a little fatter. Other symptoms got worse recently but he had previously are avoiding food, throwing up, hiding under the bed. We have taken to a vet and he says it is probably a symptom of depression and should play with him more… but, I am still worried because it is clearly getting worse every time I see him even though my mom is trying to spend more time with it. I would appreciate any other suggestions or recommendations.

    1. Hi Sam. It sounds like your suspicions are correct that something is wrong. I would seek a second opinion.

  7. my dog sophia, I think she has the same as chi chi cause I was reading the same exact things my dog has like whenever I just barely move or touch her she starts yelping a lot and she just keeps walking around and breathing so fast, even when she’s sleeping shes breathing so fast, i had no idea what it was until my parents took her to the vet, she might have to have surgery because of her nerve or just her spine is messed up and its bothering her so much, even her paw, when she’s on one of our laps or if she’s just standing she’ll lift it up so she’s not walking on it as much but I didn’t know what was wrong with her paw and still don’t, they said since she’s a pug this is usually a normal thing that happens to them when they are older

    1. Hi Skylar. It sounds like you’re right and I’m glad you got help. Lifting of the paw I have heard described as a “root signature”. It may be because some spinal disc material is pressing on a nerve root. Certainly extremely painful.

  8. So mu dog was out running with his brothers and sisters and then my grandpa noticed that he was walking stiffly and his front chest had considerably swollen. We immediately rushed him to the vet and they said that it doesnt look like a snake bite. They sent us home with some meds. A few hours later and hes still walking stiffly, panting excessively, and cant lay or sit down without yelping out in pain. His chest is still swollen as well. I’m not too sure what to do? Should I be worried?

    1. Hi MacKenzie. What might be wrong depends a lot on the age and breed of your dog, but I’ll still not be able to tell you without a check. Just keep going back to the vet if he’s not getting better. Good luck.

  9. So, our dog is a rescue dog. He was abused before we had
    him and developed some crazy ticks like “spinning in circles before he can walk through a doorway” crazy. He hurt himself coming up some stairs when he lost his footing. The dog has wild anxieties. He yelped and winced and limped for a few days, we took him to a vet tech who saw no inflammation, no redness, and felt no breaks or tears in his itty bitty 9 yr old Multi-Poo less than 10 lbs body frame. She says give him Tylenol for a couple days he probably bruised it. Well, It’s been a week. We can pull his arm up and nothing. He can sleep on the shoulder that that is causing him the pain. HE can put weight on it. But if WE touch the muscle directly he yelps. He still refuses to walk on it and limps everywhere. And he refuses to use the stairs anymore. He will stretch the leg in the downward facing dog position but wont walk on it. This is driving me nuts. Vet says he’s fine. How long should this behavior go on? Is it all in his head? Should we be helping him rehabilitate it? Should we coddle him until he just one day forgets he’s milking all the extra attention? I mean, if this was the west and he were a horse, he’d be shot by now… Please advise!

  10. Hi – my dog will yelp when touched on his back leg flank area or on his lower back. Yet he can jump on the bed or couch with no trouble at all, he is eating normally and not off his food at all Any clues ? He does pant a bit even when it cool. He is a 9 year old Papillon

    1. Hi Leah. It’s strange that he moves normally. If he’s an anxious dog, it might be that, but it’s hard to say.

    2. Hi Leah, did you get to the bottom of this! my dog has suddenly developed exactly the same symptoms. 6 year old Chinese crested powderpuf. Thanks

    3. I’m having the same symptoms in my 7 year old papillon. Did you find out what it was?
      My vet suspects strain in the back.

  11. Hi guys, my young Mastiff cross hoons around all the time and yesterday I noticed him yelping every third or fourth step and looking stiff, he also stopped playing with the other dog and lay down and was not his usual perky self when I called him.
    I created an area inside that restricts him from walking around too much and have been keeping him inside. he will scream in pain every time he gets up or lays down. but when he goes outside to piddle he will happily trot along. if he turns his neck he does yep. and if you push on his shoulder blade he yelps. he was also trembling. He did eat all his dinner. I have no car at the moment and live rural so cant take him anywhere. should i just continue to keep him inside and hope its just a muscle? I mean id love to just take him to the vet but its impossible until next week.

  12. Our mini schnauzer will be 12 in May. She can eat her regular kibble which is small, but if I give her a small piece of cracker she’ll either drop it or if she tries to eat it she will yelp, shake, and run into her ‘safe place’ – the bathroom and lie on the mat. She will also be sitting or lying and suddenly yelp, shake and run off for no reason. A brisk walk will get her back to normal. Otherwise she is healthy and slim.
    The vet can’t find anything wrong. She has sedated her, checked her throat, and neck, x-rayed her, given her pain meds. She’s a lovely dog and I’m at my wit’s end.

    1. Hi Janet. That certainly a strange one, and I can understand your frustration. Some thoughts might be: disease of the temporomandibular joint, retrobulbar abscess, tooth root pain or cervical disc disease. The good news is that there is a test that will find all these things – a CT. I would look around and see who is doing this and ask your vet for a referral unless she has another suggestion.

  13. Hello! I have a Dobermen puppy, he eats amazing very energetic. But everynow and then he’ll yelp for no reason, and sometimes hide. I have no idea why.

    1. Hi Madison. That’s certainly unusual, and while it may not be anything, in your dog’s breed I would wonder about cervical spondylomyelopathy or wobbler syndrome. Having said that, I’m probably being overcautious.

  14. My Chihuahua has been in pain for 4 days. We’ve taken her to the vet twice. All they can find is slightly elevated liver enzymes. When we are at the vets she doesn’t act in pain. She doesn’t yelp when touched. But I now have video evidence. I just woke up to find my pup shaking and twitching muscles. Slightly adjusting herself. She wouldn’t eat her pain treat so we had to….force feed. All this is horrible! Why can’t they find what’s wrong?

    1. Hi Theta. It’s very common for dogs in pain to act normally when they are at the vet, where its scarier. Even though you may also not find the problem with an x-ray, I would do it too as the it can be in the muscles and ligaments. It’s very frustrating, but my advice is to keep trying with your vet until you find the right pain medication, as it usually works.

  15. Hi, I have a seven year old yorkie, that recently started arching it’s back and freezes up like she is afraid to move, when I reached to pick her up she yelps in pain, have taken to vet ,xrays ok ,also blood work okay, had a small temp. Vet did a thorough check from back of body to head of course she was shaken but no pain or yelling at that time . Steroids and prednisone prescribed but out of the blue pain when touched and freezes up agin . Never have had any problems before always active before. Don’t know what else to digit her?

    1. Hi Richard. It sounds like you and your vets have done everything right. I would be getting back in touch with them and asking the question of whether NSAIDs will work better than prednisone. They of course know the case better and may have a good reason why not or other suggestions.

  16. My 4year old King Charles Cavalier has just started to Yelp for no apparent reason he seems lethargic and hes eating fine and seems to have his normal mobility, I’ve checked to see if his belly is hard and looked for anything that’s not normal can someone please help.

    Kindest Regards

  17. Hi, great page, ive learnt a lot reading it, I’ve came here because My mums seven year old French bulldog is happy go lucky super energetic dog but recently he yelps for no reason, he also has head shakes which look pretty scary, but he’s still happy , eats well and very energetic, could the head shakes be connected to the yelping

    1. Hi Joe- Frenchies get a lot of ear infections so the head shaking could be an important clue to this.

    2. My puppy keeps yelping like she’s hurting but she’s not limping or doesn’t have any cuts or anything on her. I can move all legs without hurting her. Her appetite is down a little. The only thing I can figure is maybe he neck bc she yelps when she moves her head a certain way I think. She did this last week for about 2 days and then went back to normal and now she’s doing it again. We to have a cat that likes to try and momma her a lot. She tries cleaning pup like she’s one of her baby’s. I’ve caught the cat with pup in headlock trying to clean her face lol I’m wonder if maybe cat was to rough and maybe hurt her. Like maybe a pulled muscle or crick in her neck? I hate to see her just cry in pain out of the blue. She can b sleeping good and then something happens and she yelps! Please help! Is there any pain meds I can give her?

      1. Hi Katie. There are plenty of good pain meds, but none that are OTC. You will need to find a vet but it doesn’t have to cost more than about $100 to sort out (of course x-rays are ideal as well)

  18. Hey, I realised that when I was on my iPad ( my dog was outside for a wee ) I heard him yelp. we let him in and he ate Normally, but the only thing was is he doesn’t want to sit down nor go into his bed! He hangs around you if you are sitting down. I went to give him a hug, I had my hand around his neck area and he yelped so I read all of this and I figured out it must just be neck pain. I remembered that Monday night I did some jumping with him. I don’t know if one of his spinal has been moved or is aching but I’m getting a bit worried about him. We are gonna wait a few days to see if he stops yelping, if he doesn’t what should I do?

    1. Hi Emma. This page contains the information you need. It’s very likely he’s got significant neck pain and despite the holiday season, I would get him seen soon.

    2. My pittvull is doing the same. Wants arpund you twice as much…is more lovie with ya. Eats normal but sleeps different( hard to explain). When i had both hands on his head praising him, he yelps extra loud at random. Takin him to the vet in the a.m.

      1. Hi, having something very similar with my Dachshund..started last night. I was curious what your diagnosis was

  19. My boy Barkley is a chocolate lab, he wasn’t eating yesterday and he yelps whenever we touch him anywhere. He was fine when we got home but after we let him out to use the bathroom he came back with his head down, tail tucked and was whining alot. He’s also breathing pretty heavily, he’s being take to the vet later today but I’m still worried about him 🙁

    1. Might be lymes disease. That what my boy did no matter where i touched him. I had to carry him to the car as he whimpered. Idk the date to these questions but id take him sooner than later.

  20. Hi your responses are interesting but I’m not sure if our almost 3yo spoodle has pain or if it is a defensive measure. She does not like to be touched or picked up around the middle and gives a yelp if you try to move her. She does not appear to have any other symptoms and moves quite freely including walking and playing. I do believe she may have anxiety could this be the reason for her yelp? Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    1. Hi Therese. It’s never accurate without a physical exam but to me the best clue that it’s ‘behavioural’ (e.g. anxiety) would be if it only happens in certain places, such as when on the sofa. Certainly a 3 year old is unlikely to have back problems. Regardless of the cause, the problem is worth investigating, whether for health or quality of life reasons.

      1. My chihuahua was fine yesterday but around bedtime he was acting a little strange. He wouldn’t get up on two legs or jump but that was it. But when I woke up this morning he yelps whenever I move him. He curled up and doesn’t want to move from that position. He never bites but when I tried picking him up so we could go for a walk he bit me

      2. Hi Jennifer. That’s a Chihuahua pictured above. It certainly sounds like he’s in a lot of pain and needs a vet. All the best.

      3. Hi thank you for all your help w our pets. We have Max. He is almost 5yrs old. Pit bull/ bull dog. He is in so much pain. Unfortunately after our town caught on fire last year we have been living in our car . (My self, girlfriend and Max) but when car shakes or when we get him out to go bathroom he screams about 6-10 horribly loud screams. Now he has swelling in his neck. And there is a weird odor. He is the most loving soul. This has been like this for a day now. If I go to vet and I don’t have $ will they see him? I don’t know

      4. Hi Trevor. I don’t know what to say except that I’m sorry I’m not in your area to be able to see your dog. I hope there is a charity service available for you as I think only a vet can help.

    2. Hi, I have a 14 yr old Yorkie. (Yes I know she’s very old) I was driving to the store and she was on the floor board as we were leaving she started looking at me confused and just started crying/screaming and when I went to pet her she kinda tried to bite at me and I tried again to pet her to calm her down and she just stood up on my knees and let me pet her and I calmed her down. It was weird she has never done this. It was like she didn’t know who I was or was scared. I’m not sure I’m just confused and looking for answers. She is also very use to car rides so I’m sure this is not the problem.

      1. Hi Lenaa. Although I can’t be certain, the best clue is probably your dog’s age. At 14 and over, dogs get easily confused and it might be that a normal event suddenly causes anxiety. It does sound behavioural and not due to pain, though of course I can’t be sure.

  21. My 9 yr old Shepherd Yelps if touched on abdomen by rib cage and also his sides. He paces back and forth and doesn’t want to sit or lay down. Eventually, after doing the pacing for hours, he will lay down but yelps when he does. He is eating and drinking fine. He did not hurt himself that I’m aware of. At last vet visit, the vet thought he may have the beginnings of degenerative myelopathy d/t ursine leakage and hind paw not righting itself when placed on floor. Does this sound like his back is the culprit?

    1. Hi Janet. I agree with the idea of a spinal origin, but I’m wondering if degenerative myelopathy could cause referred pain, if that’s what it is. It sounds like a tough one to sort out and your vets seem to be on the right track.

  22. Hi Andrew,
    Just came across your site after googling !
    Wow what a wonderful informative web site 🙂
    Our Pugalier aged 5 started 2 nights ago started doing a weird sudden yelp/cry out of nowhere noise, he was sleeping on the lounge and jolted himself awake making this weird noise at first i thought he was having a dream but he continued doing it through out the night. At first we thought he may have injured himself as he is ball mad and does all sorts of flying leaps to get the ball, but he seems to be walking & jumping ok. Yesterday he went all day and didn’t do it at all but then last night as he is relaxed and sleeping he started to do it again, he also did it during the night once or twice. any ideas ?

    1. Hi Cathy. If he’s only doing it while he’s asleep and has a normal posture it may not be a pain response. You might also consider a partial seizure. My only other suggestion is to get a video to show your vet.

  23. Hello
    My 14 yo bishon is yelping when touching him under ear (only left side area) noting that he is eating normally and his ear looks so healthy (odor and skin).
    Giving him ibuprofen (2ml twice daily) and he is becoming better on ibuprofen!

    Kindly advise

    1. STOP THE IBUPROFEN AND SEE A VET IMMEDIATELY. It is extremely toxic and your dog may die without treatment.I cannot stress this enough. Only after this can your vet sort out the cause of pain, which is probably middle ear disease.

  24. Hi Andrew, Monday my poodle lifted up his front left paw and yelped once, then put it back down and was normal the rest of the day. Tuesday he again lifted up the same paw and yelped several times, didn’t want to put pressure on it for about 5 minutes, then went back to normal again. While we were sleeping, I accidentally touched his back and he again yelped. Today (Wednesday), he again is lifting the same front paw and yelping, but only did it once for about 5 minutes again. I would think if it were back pain the back legs would be affected rather than the front. Also with only the one front paw being lifted for only a few minutes per day, then intermittent soreness on the mid to lower back, I have no idea what it could be. He is still running and jumping normally all other times. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Abbey. If it’s really a leg problem, there should be a limp most of the time, and dogs almost never yelp with leg problems except when they first hurt them. However, you could have an unusual case. A long shot is that it is what’s called a ‘root signature’ where a prolapsed spinal disc puts pressure on the root of a nerve that goes to the leg. This gives referred pain that the dog interprets as leg pain. Either way, you need a vet to be sure.

  25. Hi Andrew
    I have a wee saved Gritton.He had been abuse by his last owner.I got him at 3 and a half years old.It has been a hard road with him,but I have always just been very kind to him.this poor wee soles is scared of everything.I have had him for near on four years.
    To this day there is no spark in his eyes.
    Anyway.Two days ago, I came in from out side,sat to him and put my hand on his tummy to pat him.He screamed so I thought I must have sat on his leg.So again I tried to pat him and he screamed again. So the next few hours I just watch over him.He didn’t want to eat drink or even go out for his toilet walk.I did manage to get him out at 5 pm.But still in this time he was screaming if touch.I knew he couldn’t jump up on the lounger so that night I slept on the floor beside him. The next morning I took him to the vet.They checked Ragnar out and Ragnar was not screaming at all while in the vets.Once I got him outside yep he started screaming.I took him back a second time to the vets they did xrays but said they really couldn’t see any thing.The vet said.Ragnar must have eaten something or this spin at the base of his tail could have a smaller gap than the other disks in his back.The vet did say Ragnar had a lot of poop inside of him.Ok they put him on painkillers and told me to watch him over the next few days.Day one. He is very slow to walk,not really wanting any food.Seems to just want to be in his bed.He has screamed once only today.Im to scare to touch him any more I fear I will only make him scream.Could this pain be his spin .please help.Thanks Rob

    1. Hi Robynne. It looks like you’ve done everything right and it sounds like he has back pain- it’s frustrating how they don’t react when the vet handles them. My only concern is the not eating, which isn’t typical for pain, so if he isn’t getting better, I’d ask my vets to take a blood sample including a pancreatitis test.

  26. Hi I have a 11 year old jack russel and if you touch his back slightly he starts to Yelp I was wondering if you have any recommendations I also have a 1 year old shih tzu could he have maybe caused the pain for him and will I need medical attention for him.

    1. Hi Sammy. It’s certainly possible that your young dog has caused your older dog to overexert himself and hurt his back. Most of these do need medical attention. Good luck.

  27. Hi Andrew, I’m very worried about my 1.5 year old pitbull Lucy.
    She is normally very energetic, spunky and all around happy. She is so energetic we take her on 3 walks per day, while we also have a large fenced in backyard for her to run around in. She has a basket of her favourite bones and another of toys that she drags around and dumps about a dozen times a day. Whenever we come home she runs to the door doing the pitbull wiggle because she’s wagging her tail so hard. Her favourite thing is wrestling with my husband and normally follows him around the house all day.
    For the last 2 days she has not done any of these things. She does not want to go for walks, she has not touched her bones or toys, my husband tried to wrestle with her and she walked away with her head down. When we come home she won’t even get off the couch to say hello.
    Today she began yelping when we touched her head, and cowering when we are about to pet her. She is barely eating and tonight I saw she had diarrhea. She’s a completely different dog and I can tell she’s in pain, obviously somewhere in her head or face but I can’t understand what’s wrong. There is no visible sign of injury. We checked in her ears and mouth to see if there was any redness or swelling and everything seemed fine. If you have any ideas about what may be going on with her I’d appreciate hearing them. I’m guessing a trip to the vet will be in order tomorrow but I’m just worried sick.

    1. Hi Jill. You have found the best information I can give, but beyond this only a vet in person can give you the final piece of the puzzle. Good Luck.

  28. Hi there!

    My Chihuahua cross Yorkshire terrier is yelping every so often. Shes 7 years old, does not have any problem moving her head/neck but not eating like she normally does. When shes out in the garden shed fine but her right back leg flicks up which makes her look like she is skipping. Shes done that for awhile but now has only recently yelping when nothing in particular is happening. I walked past her and she jumped to the side and yelped. She sat by the door, jumped up and yelped. Do you have any idea what could be going on? She behaves normally when being picked up or cuddle and has no problem rolling around on her back on the grass. She has had her tail inbetween her back legs more than usual though.

    1. Hi Melissa. Nearly every time a dog behaves like your chihuahua the cause is spinal pain, not just the neck. It is always intermittent, unpredictable and hard to detect. Of course, only a visit to the vet can give you the right answer.

  29. Hi, I just saw an article referring to someone’s pet that is very skittish, I have a Chihuahua named ‘Livee’ (pronounced live ee), and we also have the rest of her family too, brother, mother and father, none were inbred, and ever since her birth she has been the odd one out, and growing up, she has all the symptoms of an abusive owner, such as when being called, she’ll walk very slowly towards the caller, with her tail between her legs and head down, then when she gets close enough she’ll just drop and roll on her side, with a little squirt of pee to follow, she doesn’t bite, but when she’s on the couch, and we give her that happy tone in our voices, she wags her tail like crazy, then immediately drops into that submissive posture, and when we rub her belly, she starts an intense tail wagging more of a circular motion, then starts a heavy bout of snarling and growling, and when snarling, it looks like she’s attempting to talk, because she’ll start wagging her tongue about at the same time as snarling, making it sound like she’s talking, but she doesn’t bite, then she’ll intensively stare at one of the other chihuahua’s and continue growling and snarling, we have to actually say “quit” to stop her.

    Sooo, what can make her have all the symptoms of being abused when she isn’t? Me and my wife think it’s a possibility that when she was born there was a lack of oxygen to her brain for a short period and we had to blow into her nose to get her breathing, and as a result she could be partially brain damaged, oh, and also she’ll bark and the slightest noise, regardless if day or night, which makes me think she could also have a vision problem too.

    1. Hi Michael. It actually sounds like Livee is suffering from anxiety. Sometimes this can be due to early experiences, but often it’s just a case of some animals being more prone to it than others. Anxiety then often leads to aggressive behaviours. I would certainly see a vet who is interested in animal behaviour as a first step and see if this is true.

  30. My dog had never had any signs of pain and always acted normal playing with my other dog until today he started winning everytime my other dog comes near him and yelping really loud. He still eats normally but he doesn’t move around as much he just lays down all the time now. We don’t know what’s wrong

    1. Hi Callie. The information in this article is the best guess as to what is wrong, but only a vet will be able to tell for sure.

    1. Hi Samsudin- yes, yelping is unique to dogs. It’s strange but true: yelping without an obvious cause is almost always caused by neck pain

  31. My dog had a blocked anal gland. I thought it was his back at first. Very painful.

      1. Hi Shay. I’ll answer this one – fixing a blocked anal gland is usually done under anaesthetic by passing a small cannula into it and flushing it but sometimes a vet can express it when the dog is awake if it’s not too painful.

  32. My toy poodle yelps and begins to shake a lot if you touch the left side of her body or even if you don’t touch her at all. She will jump up onto the lounge without any visible pain but if we were to pick her up, she yelps and starts shaking again. She is now sitting with her body slightly curled towards the right side and seems to be leaning forward a bit.

    1. Sometimes this behaviour can be anxiety if they feel threatened when you go to get them. However, you should always start by looking for pain. I’d certainly get a vet to take a look, but as she may not do it at the clinic, also take a video on your phone to show them.

  33. Hi, so what was chi chi’s problem as it sounds similar to my dog and what care did you provide at home. My dog has yelped in pain with no one near him and he holds his head like chi chi. We are currently on pain killers and antibiotics for a possible uti. Next step xrays if he doesn’t improve? He also had an episode where his back legs gave way so is this a sign of neck/back pain. Thanks

    1. Hi Lou – Chi Chi had neck pain. To be honest, once the painkillers started working we didn’t need to do anything else except keep him quiet and stop him jumping on and off furniture. In your case, I would wonder if there might be a better painkiller (I find meloxicam plus tramadol or gabapentin works best) It sounds like the x-rays are going to be necessary.

  34. My bulldog Dylan has just started to yelp and then he jumps up it doesn’t last for long just started two nights ago

  35. Hi Andrew,
    Im facing with one issue with my puppy Shihi tzu 1/5 years old, everything was normal , I did brushing her, walking,playing,eating food, all ok until 2days back when I was playing with her sunddnly she screamed and she stoped playing after that I felt she is a bit nervous but we went out to walk normally, when we came back When I tried to touch her neck again she screamed and hide herself under the table, from that time I’m monitoring her every 10mins I felt she is crying and she is not moving her head just looking around with her eyes, she is not happy at all ignoring her foods and treats, she is doing urine with no problem, I really don’t know what should I do because the vets in my city they are not that pro, do you have any opinion to help me, I’m really looking for reply
    Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Amigo. I think you have read the right article based on what you have described. It certainly sounds like severe neck pain, but you really need a vet to have a look. I’m sure the vets in your area see these all the time and can help her. Shi Tzus in particular often have spinal disc problems so if I were them I would certainly be also recommending an x-ray to check. Good luck. Andrew

  36. My dog yelps when strokes and examined, he is quite nervous in nature as it is. Recently he has started digging holes in the garden which he NEVER used to do but after digging the hole he will then lay in it. What does that mean?

    1. Hi Kirsty. It’s actually quite normal behaviour for a dog to dig a hole and then lie in it. This is especially common in hot weather when it does seem to help them cool down a bit. However, it’s the change in behaviour that concerns me. I would get a check up as it’s also possible he’s in pain and it’s his way of trying to get away from it. The yelping could just be a dog that’s nervous, but it’s quite rare for a dog to do this with their own owner.

  37. Hi Andre, so about a week and a half ago I sat on my 12 pound poodle and I weight a reasonable 200lbs and now she yells when barely touched, she doesn’t jump on beds or the sofa anymore(she used to jump on them a lot) and she shivers all the time. When taken outside she feels fine but while inside the house she’s miserable. She doesn’t eat but drinks water. She used the restroom fine but this morning right now she went to the bathroom in one room and in another and just threw up like 4 time. She threw up some huge weird objects that looked like a jalapeño with strings. Please help!.

    1. Hi Isabel. I’m sorry to say but it sounds like your poodle is in serious trouble. You certainly have described all of the symptoms of severe pain but it is hard to say why. I suspect the vomiting is related to the injury and that the object that was brought up was just something sitting in the stomach at the time but again it’s hard to say. All I can suggest is that you find a vet to see her as soon as possible. I suspect she has some internal injuries. All the best – Andrew

  38. Our dog yelps when gently stroked on head, why? She is a skidish dog overall. Will flinch if you step over her. Cannot handle a walking stick will freak out into a panic attack if my husband uses it normally to walk. I think she was abused by previous owner. Do you have an opinion? I would like a reply

  39. Hi Andrew, thanks for this post. I’ve suspected the foster dog I’m looking after has some issues with one of his back legs but after reading your post I also realise that throughout the night he gets up a few times and has a good shake, so now I’m wondering if that’s another sign of things not being quite right. Another thing to discuss at our upcoming vet appointment!

  40. My dog’s back right leg shivers sometimes and occasionally she holds it up. She doesn’t yelp or cry. However, she does not jump on the bed as often as she has previously. She is about 8-9 years old. I suspect arthritis.

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