Yelping and Shaking in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 06/16/2017Updated: 06/03/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS
Why is my dog yelping and shaking?

What is Yelping and Shaking?

It can be scary and a little frustrating when your dog starts yelping and shaking. If you are not sure what is causing the yelping and shaking, trying to figure out what is wrong can be extremely frustrating. When your dog exhibits this type of behavior, you need to stop what you are doing and immediately assess the situation. Examine your dog for any wounds or injuries. Also, take note of any environmental factors that may have caused your dog to react with yelping and shaking. 

If there was an environmental factor, such as a loud noise or a severe storm, that caused your dog to begin yelping or shaking, monitor your dog to make sure that they stop their behavior once their environment returns back to normal. This reaction to a storm or loud noise can be normal for some dogs that are naturally more nervous or highly strung. Should the behavior not change after a time, you will want to consult your veterinarian to determine what is causing your dog to yelp and shake. 

Some things that can cause your dog to be yelping and shaking include:

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Poisoning
  • Fear or trauma
  • Joint or muscle problems
  • A seizure or other neurological issue

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 vet's 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.

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.

Prevention of Yelping and Shaking

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.

Cost of Yelping and Shaking

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.

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Yelping and Shaking Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Shih Tzu



Eight Years


24 found this helpful


24 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
My dog is yelping in pain when someone stands up too quickly next to her or moves too quickly next to her. No touching her involved

Jan. 2, 2021

Answered by Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

24 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear this. It may be that she is anxious. This is often linked to a source of pain such as a rotten tooth or joint disease. She may be concerned she will get knocked and that this will cause pain. I would advise a general vet check so we can search for anything out of the ordinary, and go from there. I hope this helps and all the best to your dog!

Jan. 2, 2021

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Twelve Years


8 found this helpful


8 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Screaming Yelping Crying
Woke up this morning yelping and screaming like in pain

Sept. 28, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

8 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian right away, as that is certainly not normal behavior, and dogs can have joint or muscle problems as they age. I hope that your dog is okay.

Oct. 8, 2020

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