My Dog Screamed and Died [Finding Closure]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

I know how it feels to lose a beloved pet. I’ve been there. I’ve felt the gut-wrenching pain of watching my own dog pass away.

What’s more depressing is that my dog screamed and died, and I needed to find some answers for closure.

What did I do wrong? What did I miss? Why didn’t I notice that something was off?

In this post, I want to share my own experience and what I have learned.

Hopefully, this will give you some answers and knowledge to prevent this from happening again.

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Dear Dog Owner

Why Did My Dog Scream and Die?

There are several reasons why a dog may scream and suddenly die, one of which may be due to heart and cardiovascular problems. 

That said, you should bear in mind that screaming followed by death is very uncommon.

Most dogs tend to be quieter during their last days, although there are some that might see a sudden increase in energy.

Knowing what caused your dog to scream can help you figure out if the situation is indeed life-threatening or something that will pass.

Doggy says, consider reading this too: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Not Sleeping at Night?

Reasons That Cause Your Dog to Scream

It’s bad enough when your dog barks, but when he lets out a startling scream like something out of a horror movie, it’s simply horrifying.

Especially so if you do not have any idea what may have triggered it.

The following are the reasons that may cause your dog to scream:

1. Attracting attention

Dogs will scream for your attention, on occasion for no other reason than to get it.

It’s possible that all they want to do is play with you, or that they’re simply too eager.

2. Nightmares

Did you know dogs suffer nightmares?

It is a known fact that dogs dream while they are in the REM stage of sleep, and sometimes when they experience a nightmare, they may yelp or bark themselves awake to get out of it.

3. Trying to communicate

If you hear your dog screaming, it could be that he’s trying to communicate something to you.

Your dog may be wanting food, to play, or simply to communicate with other dogs in the neighborhood.

4. An injury

A dog may cry out for help if he’s been injured.

Be sure to check to see if your dog has been hurt or if they are making a shrieking sound of any kind.

Warning signs include limping, sensitivity to touch, and a reluctance to move.

If you notice these symptoms, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

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5. Discomfort due to a medical condition

Your dog’s discomfort might be caused by a wide variety of conditions, not all of which are immediately apparent to you from their outward appearance. 

It is entirely possible that it is probably attempting to tell you that they have an underlying medical condition such as a heart problem, and screaming is one of the ways to do so.

6. Seizure

When a dog is having a seizure, they make vocalizations, which may be quite upsetting for its owners. 

These sounds are not malicious or threatening and should be taken as a sign that you should stay calm and try to keep your dog safe.

The seizure will pass, but it is important that you do not attempt to intervene in any way while it is happening.

7. Insect Bites

Just like humans, dogs are sensitive to the proteins contained in the saliva or venom of biting insects.

They may be born with certain sensitivities or, more often, they may develop sensitivities if they are exposed numerous times to a particular insect bite.

If they were bitten by one, a scream is a natural reaction a dog might have.

8. Parasites

There are many types of parasites that can affect dogs, including fleas, ticks, and worms.

All these things can cause a dog to suffer from itching and scratching, which can lead to excessive vocalization.

If you suspect your dog has been exposed to parasites, talk with your veterinarian about treatment options.

9. Fear and anxiety

Some dogs suffer from extreme anxiety, particularly separation anxiety, which may lead to a variety of undesirable behaviors like barking, being destructive, and screaming. 

Some dogs even have panic attacks as a result of their worry but thankfully, there is a wealth of information on how to address these issues using positive training methods.

10. Boredom

Dogs that don’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation are more likely to acquire undesirable habits like howling and barking. 

To avoid this, make sure your dog is involved in some sort of activity that will keep him entertained while you’re busy with other things, such as a puzzle toy.

What to Do About Your Screaming Dog?

A lot of people think that the best way to stop their dog from howling is to punish him, but this can often make things worse. 

Punishing your dog for howling will likely just cause him to associate negative feelings with you and make him more likely to bark when he’s upset in the future.

If you find that your dog is howling and barking excessively, there are a few things you can do to address the issue. 

First of all, take some time to observe his behavior by watching what goes on when he starts making noise. 

For example, does he appear anxious or stressed?  Does he look like he needs something from you?

Next, try teaching him an alternative behavior like “sit” or “down”.

These simple steps work most of the time, but if not, the following actions should be taken instead.

  1. You should take your dog to the veterinarian to rule out the possibility of a medical ailment.
  2. Seek the assistance of a behaviorist or a trainer.
  3. If your dog has seizures, you should pay attention to the instructions that your veterinarian gives you on how to care for him during and following a seizure.

What Would Cause a Dog to Have Sudden Death?

Regrettably, despite everyone’s best efforts, there are still certain reasons for death that are unknown.

Luckily though, with advancements in veterinary medicine today, most ailments can be detected easily.

In the case of sudden death, it is important to investigate the reason both for your peace of mind and possibly for the safety of any other animals in the household.

Heart disease

One of the most common causes of sudden death in dogs is heart disease.

A dog may suffer from different kinds of heart diseases such as an abnormal heart rhythm or heart failure which can all lead to sudden death or simply a dog dying in its sleep.

To avoid such situations, ensure that your dog stays fit and visit your veterinarian for a yearly check-up so that you know your dog’s health.


Some dogs die from unnoticed trauma.

Even dogs that are contained in an area that is surrounded by fencing still have a chance of escaping and running into traffic or falling from a great height.

Wild animals from the surroundings are also potential causes of accidents too.

Gastrointestinal disease

The majority of disorders that affect the digestive tract eventually lead to death.

However, it is unusual for death to occur suddenly.

Cases of parvovirus that develop suddenly and show no clinical symptoms, intestinal torsion, or volvulus are all conditions that have the potential to rapidly deteriorate and ultimately lead to death.

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Hemorrhage is a substantial contributor to the loss of life in many dogs.

Shock and an insufficient supply of oxygen to tissues are the outcomes of trauma that is accompanied by substantial bleeding.


Toxicosis is a condition that may develop in a dog once it comes into contact with a toxin or poison through ingestion, inhalation, or physical contact. 

Following this exposure, alterations might be seen in the usual functioning of the body.

Additionally, it is a common reason for a dog’s passing away.

Signs that your dog might be dying

If you are aware of the symptoms that may indicate that your dog is about to pass away, you will be better able to make preparations in advance and ensure that your pet’s final days are filled with love and joy.

Speak to your vet regarding your dog’s condition before making any choices about his or her end-of-life care.

Be careful to let them know if you see any of the following indicators, any of which might indicate that your dog’s time with you is drawing to a close:

  • Aching and distressing sensations
  • A decreased desire to eat
  • Loss of weight
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Incontinence
  • Body Odor Dull Eyes
  • Alterations in the temperature
  • Disinterest
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Getting Over the Loss of Your Dog

Getting Over the Loss of Your Dog

Having to say goodbye to a beloved pet is one of the most difficult and upsetting aspects of being an animal lover and owner.

Take as much time as you need to mourn their passing, even if you feel ridiculous about it.

You owe it to yourself.

The majority of us consider our animals to be part of the family.

As you continue to work through your loss, here are some tips you may find helpful:

  • You may create decorations or a photo book by printing out photographs and cutting them out
  • Discuss your emotions with the individuals who are important to you
  • Record the qualities that you like about them, together with the recollections that you never want to lose
  • Join an organization that helps those who have lost pets
  • Make a memorial website on the internet, or build a monument in person

Doggy says, consider reading this too: Why Do Cocker Spaniels HOWL? [Separate Fact From Fiction]

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do dogs cry before they die?

Your dog may or may not cry before passing away, and it all depends on the circumstances surrounding their passing. For instance, if the cause of death is severe injuries or excruciating pain, your dog may cry out in agony before passing away. If your dog is going through bodily changes, he most likely won’t be able to grasp what’s going on, which may cause him to feel more agitated, apprehensive, or scared.

How do dogs act before they die?

Dogs who are nearing the end of their lives might display a wide range of behaviors, but in general, they behave in a manner that is inconsistent with who they normally are because of the agony and uncertainty they are experiencing. Your dog may no longer like the activities or the people he used to appreciate.

Is sudden death painful for dogs?

A lot of people who own dogs have the misconception that when their pets “die,” it is a peaceful passing away, but the reality is that this is not always the case. A great number of dogs can endure pain for several hours, sometimes even days, before passing away. Even after their hearts have stopped beating, many dogs can keep breathing and continue to move their muscles.

In Conclusion: My Dog Screamed and Died

Every time I think about my dog screaming and dying, I’m reminded of the memory that seems so fresh, but one that I cannot escape.

However, after taking the time to grieve and recall all the wonderful times we had, I have finally moved on, and I believe you will too.

I hope this post helped you to figure some things out, and if you could stick around, consider checking out the following posts too:

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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