Your dog or cat is not able to speak, so their way of communicating with humans is by body language and barking, howling, and whining. A pet will make these noises in response to pain, discomfort or emotions. It is important to pay attention to these signs of your pet, since they are often an indication that something is wrong, and a visit to the veterinarian might be needed in case of ongoing pain or distress.
How to Recognize
Dogs communicate by barking, howling, whining and even growling. However, what does it mean if your dog barks, howls or whines more than you think it should? This condition, which is known as excessive vocalization, is actually quite common in dogs, and there are many reasons they may display this behavior. First of all, some breeds of dogs normally bark or howl excessively. For example, toy breeds and some terriers tend to bark at most anything they see or hear, and hound breeds are known for their habitual howling. Nevertheless, there are times when dogs may develop excessive vocalization due to a behavior problem or a medical issue. If you have had your pet for several years, you most likely will be able to determine if it is being more vocal than normal. On the other hand, if you just got your dog, you may be unsure as to whether or not its vocalization behavior is normal. In this case, conduct a bit of research on the breed and find out if it is normal or not. You can also look for additional symptoms that we will discuss later.
The causes of excessive vocalization can basically be split into two categories: behavioral problems and medical issues. When extreme barking, howling or whining is due to a behavior problem, it is typically caused by boredom or anxiety. On the other hand, when extreme vocalization is due to a medical issue, it is usually caused by discomfort and/or pain.
If you think that your dog's vocalization is not normal, you will need to visit your veterinarian and provide him or her with a complete medical and behavioral history of your pet. The vet will perform a thorough physical and various laboratory tests to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing the behavior. Common tests that may be performed are as follows: Complete Blood Count, Chemical Blood Profile, Fecal Exam, Urinalysis, Electrolyte Panel, and Imaging.
Since excessive vocalization can often signify serious medical conditions, you will want to take note of any other symptoms that your dog may be displaying. By jotting down any other symptoms you notice, you can help your vet come up with a definitive diagnosis. Some symptoms that are commonly associated with excessive vocalization are listed below: Destructive Behavior Such as Chewing or Digging, Aggressive Behavior, Pacing, Shaking/Trembling, Diarrhea and/or Vomiting, Loss of Appetite and/or Weight Loss, Swollen and/or Sensitive Abdomen, Limping, and Depression or Apathy.
As stated above, there are many reasons why dogs may bark, howl or whine excessively. While in many cases, the behavior simply indicates stress or anxiety, it can also be a symptom of a medical condition. Some of the most common conditions that may lead to excessive vocalization are as follows: Boredom or Separation Anxiety, Nervousness or Fear, Intestinal Parasites, Gastrointestinal Upsets or Infections, Injuries, Arthritis, Hip or Elbow Dysplasia, Old Age/Dementia, Various Skin Conditions, Malnutrition, and Loss of Hearing or Eyesight.
Treatment for excessive vocalization depends on your veterinarian's diagnosis. It is for this reason that obtaining a diagnosis is so important to help your pet. Nevertheless, depending on the cause of your dog's vocalization, treatment may include one or more of the following procedures and medications: Behavior Modification, Oral or Topical Antibiotics, Anti-Inflammatory Medications, De-wormers, Anti-itch Creams and/or Steroids, Surgery, and Special Diets. A dog that barks, howls or whines continuously can be quite annoying, to say the least. However, in some cases, if your dog displays this behavior, it may be due to a behavioral or medical condition that can be corrected. As such, if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, be sure to make an appointment with your vet right away.
Barking, Howling or Whining Affects