Why Does My Dog Suddenly Scream

There are several reasons why dogs suddenly scream. Dogs can scream due to pain resulting from a bite from another dog, pests, or even a horrifying dream or nightmare. For a more in-depth understanding, let’s explore the myriad of reasons why your dog may be screaming.

why does my dog suddenly scream
Why does my dog suddenly scream?!

Why Does My Dog Suddenly Scream? | The Reasons

Below are some of the reasons why your dog can scream all of a sudden. Let’s take a look!

Bad Dreams or Nightmares

Like human beings, dogs also have the same dream patterns as we do; therefore, they can also have terrifying dreams. From your perspective, you may notice that they have nightmares if they are whimpering or twitching uncontrollably in their sleep.

A dog can dream of a past traumatic event or something mundane that still causes them anxiety, such as when you leave them to go to work. However, horrifying dreams are common in dogs that have been saved from danger, abandoned, or abused by their past owners. 

Seizure Events

Dogs can also develop seizures due to brain disorders. A seizure event can make your dog wail in pain after the seizure episode is over. Seizures are involuntary and cannot be controlled by your dog. Indeed, seizures can result from brain cancers, chronic epilepsy, or metabolic diseases. 

pug dog with curly tail
Pugs are famous for their curly tails (and sense of humor)

Physical Injuries

As with any animal or human being, physical injuries tend to produce pain. Unfortunately, this can interfere with your dog’s sleep pattern and general well-being. Although pain may constantly be present, aggravation of the pain by any factor may lead to screaming. For instance, if Fido changes posture or has any kind of pressure on the affected body part, they may react by screaming. 

Pain can also result from chronic conditions, such as neoplastic growths, inflammation of joints, or other chronic inflammatory disorders. Of course, some physical injuries may happen due to an innocuous reason, such as when a pooch is walking around or climbing stairs. Moreover, there is always the risk of injury when you’re away, so don’t rule it if there has been an outbreak of sudden screaming.

One of the common causes of infection-related screaming is a middle ear infection or otitis media. It is a cause of pain and can even cause headaches. Some dog breeds such as beagles, dachshunds, basset hounds, and cavalier King Charles spaniels are more predisposed to ear infections. The main reason why these dogs are more predisposed is that they:

  • Have floppy ears
  • Presence of hair in their ear canals
  • Also have narrow ear canals

Parasitic Infestation and Insect Bites

Parasites are living organisms that inhabit another animal. Dog parasites depend on Fido for food, but the pests can cause such pain or irritation that your pup will start screaming.

Bite symptoms can vary, and Fido may experience mild or severe symptoms depending on the type of creature. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Visible lump or swelling
  • Itchiness or skin irritation
  • Redness on the affected area and its surrounding
  • A puncture wound

Some insects, such as bees, can cause life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. If severe, the anaphylactic reaction may lead to shock, screaming, and eventual death.


Fear is another cause of screaming and is much more common in rescue dogs. Unfortunately, many rescues have been on the receiving end of emotional or physical trauma. Whenever that’s the case, they may scream to deter people from getting close or touching them. If your dog screams when strangers get too close, you may want to consider getting your dog behavioral therapy.

A happy lab dog lays units back
Happy mixed breed (mutt dog) chilling on a bed.


Dogs may scream due to illness, particularly if the symptoms cause discomfort or pain. If you’re unsure whether illness is the reason, then the best approach is to examine Fido for any signs of sickness, such as lethargy, wheezing, weakness, and reduced activity levels. Illness can also be indicated by:

  • Frequent panting
  • Increased nasal discharge
  • Low or no appetite at all
  • Excessive salivation


Anxiety is a common cause of sudden screaming. Typically, dog anxiety is a result of recent changes in their environment or day-to-day routine. For instance, your dog might suddenly scream when an unfamiliar animal or visitor is in their vicinity. So, if Fido suddenly screams, look around to see if there are any environmental factors that could be aggravating them. 

A dog also experiences anxiety due to separation from familiar faces. Therefore, wherever you leave them behind, they may start panicking and scratching walls, doors, and furniture while screaming.

Joint and Muscle Pains

Your dog can scream when it has muscle pains resulting from muscle cramps. Cramps are painful muscle contractions that can last for seconds to a few minutes and may have a variety of contributing causes:

  • Dehydration
  • Muscle strains
  • Overuse of the affected muscles
  • Staying in one position for a long time

Muscle pain can also occur due to spasms. Although cramps are sometimes harmless, they can be a sign of a severe underlying condition, so be sure you get your vet to check Fido over.

For older dogs, arthritic inflammation is a very probable cause of sudden screaming. It occurs due to an immune response or degeneration of the joint anatomy, which often leads to chronic swelling and pain. If your dog has arthritis, they may have difficulty sitting down or lying. So, if there is a flare-up of pain as they try to perform basic tasks, then your canine may scream suddenly.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Canine cognitive dysfunction, also known as dog dementia, is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Just like the human condition, dog dementia can cause disorientation as Fido ages, leading to increased confusion. This can lead to surges in anxiety and fear, especially if your pooch forgets where they are, which may manifest as screaming.

Boredom and Need for Attention

A dog will scream if they need attention, or if they want something specifically from you. Indeed, if Fido feels like they have been neglected or haven’t gotten enough playtime, they may start to act out by screaming suddenly to process their growing boredom. 

vet checking dog for fleas
A Vet checking a dog for fleas

How Do You Manage a Screaming Dog?

There are many solutions to keeping your screaming dog under control and happy.

Rule Out Medical Disorders 

If your dog screams suddenly, consider taking Fido to a vet to rule out any underlying medical disorders. While you may have your own suspicions as to the cause, plenty of conditions can have overlapping symptoms that only a medical professional can distinguish between. If you do go for a checkup, be sure to have your dog’s ears checked to rule out a middle ear infection.

Consult a Behavioral Dog Trainer

Some dogs scream just because they have developed the behavior to protect their personal space or to seek attention. If that’s the case, you may want to bring in a professional dog trainer to address any excitement, fear, or anxiety that Fido is experiencing.

Check for Injuries 

As we’ve seen, screaming can be triggered by pain from a physical injury. Given that, it’s always prudent to check Fido for any signs or symptoms of a traumatic wound. For instance, consider checking on your dog’s gait and posture to rule out fractures if they suddenly start wailing when somewhere outside, such as at the dog park.

Take Care of Your Dog 

A happy dog will rarely experience nightmares, and keeping them in a positive state is a straightforward way of preventing sudden screams. Taking your dog for a walk, socializing with other dogs, and playing with them are just some of the ways to keep Fido happy. With this approach, you’ll help your pooch combat any anxiety or fear that might contribute to sudden screaming. 

Do Not Treat Screaming With Only Painkillers 

Although pain is a cause of screaming, suppressing the pain with a painkiller won’t help in the long run if you haven’t diagnosed the underlying condition. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to take your pet to a vet for an examination so that a long-term management plan can be developed.

Manage Anxiety 

Some dogs only scream whenever you leave; therefore, assure your dog that when you close the door, you’ll be coming home. Make your dog feel at ease, or leave them with a piece of old clothing to play with as your smell will comfort them.

In summary, dogs scream for several reasons: anxiety, seizures, excitement, physical injuries, and pain. Acute infections such as otitis media and chronic medical disorders such as arthritis can also cause screaming. Intervention depends on the probable cause of screaming.