Thank you for your question!! I see many many small breeds such as maltese, bichons, mini schnauzers and poodles (plus all the possible mixes of these!) in my clinic and to be honest 95% of them all squeal! These dogs have a decreased pain tolerance compared to large dogs - plus they are more outward in their pain response. Some dogs will cower for cover under the consult room table, otherwise will show no effect to injecetions and so on, and others will scream the house down without you even touching them! The small breeds tend to be the ones screaming the house down and this is most likely their 'defense mechanism' because they aren't really big enough to protect themselves from larger dogs or larger animals!
As for your particular dog, he could just be one of the 95% of small dogs I see, that squeal when you do something to them that hurts a little or even just do something they don't like - such as not give them a treat of food! Many of these little dogs develop attention seeking behaviors as well which you need to be aware of. HOWEVER, in saying all of this, your boy may well be one of the 5% that only winces and whines when he is in pain! Have a good exam of your boy at home and feel for any abnormal lumps and bumps. If you can narrow an area down where he squeals when touched there, then I would be a little more concerned about this boy. Quite often these little dogs can develop hip problems and their legs can get fissure fractures quite easily - however you would usually be seeing a limp first before hearing squeals now and then.
If you are quite concerned, then the next best step is a full physical exam at your local Vet clinic to rule out a source of pain or discomfort. If this is ruled out then you can feel comfortable enough that your boy is just a little sensitive to pain or that he is an attention seeking boy! I think this would be the best way to give you some peace of mind.
Best of luck with your maltese mix and please let me know how you get on.
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Dr M D Edwards