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Dog Yelps When Picked Up (Top 10 Reasons & What to Do)

Reasons why dog yelps when picked up and what to do

When your dog suddenly makes a high-pitch sound when picked up, you might be wondering, “Why does my dog yelp when I pick him up?”

Dogs also have feelings; thus, there could be plenty of reasons for such reactions.

Usually, dogs yelp when picked up as a response to pain. They make noise to alert their owners that something is wrong. It may seem harmless at first, but if it continues for a long time or develops into a habit, the underlying cause should be identified and resolved.

If that makes you worry, there are plenty of solutions that you can do before you go to the vet clinic. If you want to prevent your dog from yelping, though, you first have to understand the cause of your dog’s yelping.

This article will cover various topics, including the causes, symptoms, and remedies for your dog’s squealing when picked up. If you want to learn more about these, hang on as we are about to begin!

Why Does My Dog Yelp When I Pick Him Up?

Why does my dog squeal or yelp when I pick him up

Just like humans, dogs have feelings as well. However, due to their nature, dogs are not able to talk in words. The good thing is that they can share with us their emotions in a variety of body language.

Yelping is not usual, which means there is a reason for this reaction. Yelping often occurs when a dog yelps when picked up under the chest. 

The following are some of the possible reasons why your dog is yelping when picked up:

1. Your dog was shocked

A dog may cry when picked up because it wasn’t expecting it. Medium and large breeds, for example, may be startled since they don’t usually anticipate being carried.

Moreover, if your dog is active and independent, it might not be used to being picked up. As a result, it would prefer to be on its own and keep busy. This may be a possible cause of its yelping.

Also, any dog with sustained trauma from being dropped or mistreated will also be wary of being picked up. Because of this, it may express fear through crying or yelping when being carried.

Here is a video that shows how to help a dog overcome its dislike of being picked up:

How to Help a Dog Get Over Not Wanting to be Picked Up

2. Your dog has injuries

One major reason why your dog squeals when picked up is due to injuries. Soft tissue injuries like bruises or an open wound in the chest region may cause your dog to yelp when it comes in contact with your hands.

Such wounds could develop if your dog overplays, leaps, or drops from a high place. The worst scenario is that a broken rib may also be present.

If this happens, your dog will exhibit symptoms like troubled breathing or coughing.

Also, a strained muscle, bone fracture, or sprained ligaments may result from a rib that has been dislocated.

If you suspect that this is the case, you have to take the dog to a veterinarian for assessment and immediate treatment.

3. There might be infections or lumps on your dog’s skin

Tiny lumps called cysts, blisters, lymph nodes, and tumors can develop in your dog’s body. These may swell and become uncomfortable for your dog, especially if there is an infection. 

You might have pressed the lumps while picking up your dog, which may have triggered the yelping.

At times, you may not feel these lumps because most of them are in the armpits, groins, under the jaw, hind legs, or shoulders.

Nonetheless, coming in contact with these lumps will cause your dog to twitch or yelp when being carried.

Additionally, skin infections, lesions, and bumps can make your dog uncomfortable and itchy, especially when touched.

These conditions may be brought by ticks or existing conditions, including cancer and clogged oil glands.

READ NEXT: 13 Pictures of Dog Tumors, Cysts, Lumps & Warts

4. Your dog might be suffering from musculoskeletal problems

Older dogs are more susceptible to joint or muscle problems. They are more likely to develop arthritis, hip dysplasia, neck pain, or other joint or muscle problems since their cartilage and joints have worn out over time.

When this happens, an old dog may yelp when picked as any jostling or movement might cause pain. Additionally, a dog with musculoskeletal issues may not be able to move freely.

Some dogs also cry due to spinal issues that result in sharp pain, especially when the spinal cord or nerves are affected.

If you have an older dog that yelps when being picked up, there’s a decent chance that this is the reason why.

5. You picked them up incorrectly

The most common reason why a dog or a puppy yelps when picked up is improper handling. This usually occurs because silly kids or inexperienced dog owners pick up a dog recklessly.

Also, a dog may yelp when picked up under the back legs due to strain in its muscles and ligaments.

It could also be the reason for the development of potentially deadly spinal cord dysfunction or joint problems.

If you have kids, you should give them handling sessions for a dog to prevent them from accidentally dropping a wiggly pup.

Also, tell them to approach the dog from the side, not the back, as this might startle your pooch.

6. Your dog is too excited

Dog yelping may also be caused by overexcitement. Like humans, some dogs express their joy by crying out.

Wide-open eyes, a wagging tail, and exposing their tongue are additional indications that your dog is happy. 

Although this is one of the harmless reasons behind dog yelping, you should still keep an eye on your dog because excessive movement brought on by excitement can also result in accidents.

7. Your dog is suffering from temporary muscular conditions

Muscle spasms, cramps, and other temporary muscular conditions may also result in shaking and yelping when you pick up your dog.

To find out whether your dog’s yelping is due to these temporary conditions, look for signs such as twitching and tremors, slow movement, limping, and difficulty stretching their legs.

8. Your dog might be feeling anxious

Sometimes, your dog cries to express mental anguish when being picked up. Moreover, if they don’t recognize the person doing it, they become more anxious.

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, it may also yelp when being taken. Train your dog by using positive reinforcement to prevent it from feeling tense and worried all the time.

9. Your dog ingested poison

Dogs that mistakenly consume poison may feel severe stomach discomfort or abdominal pain. As a result, it’s possible that dogs will yelp when lifted up under the chest or abdomen area. 

If this happens, check your home to see what they may have ingested. If it’s rodent poison or other similar products, get them to the vet as soon as possible.

They will receive medicine from the vet that covers and shields the stomach lining.

10. Your dog is afraid

Many people believe that fear and anxiety are interchangeable, yet a dog can feel anxious without actually being fearful. 

For instance, your dog may be anxious if someone approaches because it associates the gesture with a traumatic incident. Dog trauma may trigger their anxiety, which may result from dogs yelping and shaking.

On the other hand, dog crying may also be triggered by fear. For example, a dog yelps when picked up after shots to express feeling sore and uncomfortable following a vaccination. 

Other fears that may cause your pup to cry when you attempt to pick it up suddenly include fear of heights, other dogs or animals, and loud or sudden sounds.

What to Do If Your Dog Is Yelping and Shaking When Picked Up?

What to do if dog yelps when picked up

Part of being a pet parent is ensuring your pets’ constant happiness and health. So, when you pick your dog up suddenly and it cries, you can try bringing some of its favorite toys and a blanket. 

Meanwhile, if the reason for its reaction is caused by being picked up incorrectly, being overexcited, or being shocked, you can try to comfort your dog with some treats.

However, if the reason is due to mild to severe illnesses such as seizures, abdominal tightness, neck pain, joint problems, fungal infection, difficulty breathing, etc., here are some things you should do to ease your dog’s pain:

1. Stay calm

When approaching your dog, remain calm and avoid grabbing it by the collar. If your dog observes that you are relaxed, it may feel less anxious since it will feel assured that everything is well.

Also, giving it space or a well-managed rest is important to accelerate your dog’s healing process and quickly return to its normal, active life.

2. Limit movement

If your dog yelps and you suspect that it may have some physical injuries, limit their movements as much as possible and avoid strenuous activities to ensure that your dog’s muscles will not be overworked.

You can also assist your dog in eating during mealtime. However, it should never be forced to eat if it refuses, as this could result in unintended mishaps.

3. Observe your dog carefully

If your dog yelps when picked up under the front legs, back legs, or chest, noting the root cause and manner of the yelp will help you determine your next step or whether you need a vet or not.

In addition, if you opt to go with a vet, this information may help them understand your dog’s condition, what procedures they should undertake, and what’s the best advice they can give to you.

4. Assess your dog physically

First, observe each part of your dog. If there are noticeable lumps, inflammations, swelling, or even tumors, then these might be to blame. 

If nothing is apparent, try pressing your dog’s chest and the chest wall with your pointing finger.

If it displays any signs of discomfort due to the pressure you apply, a soft tissue injury, such as a strain or bruise, is probably present.

5. Pick up your dog properly

If you don’t properly and gently pick your dog, it will yelp in pain. Thus, you should take it up gently and slowly rather than abruptly. Also, hold it appropriately based on their sizes.

However, if you’re hesitant to pick your dog up out of concern that you might hurt it further, it could be wiser to call someone who has relevant training or experience in picking up a dog properly.

6. See a professional

If your dog shows behavioral changes, displays indications of physical pain, or you are unable to figure out what is wrong with it, visit your vet right away. 

Keep in mind that those with expertise might always be able to determine what is best for your dog. Thus, seeking veterinary guidance can help you protect your dog from any potential health issues.

Signs Your Dog Is in Pain

Dog is in pain and yelps when picked up

The majority of dog owners think they would be able to tell if their dog was hurt. However, in reality, it can be quite difficult to tell whether your dog’s well-being is at risk. 

Dogs can’t communicate with us through words when they feel pain. Here’s a list of signs that might help you recognize when your dog is in pain: 

1. Skipping a meal

Dogs frequently miss meals, especially on hot summer days or when they are in an unfamiliar setting. However, any other changes in your dog’s eating habits can be a sign that something is wrong. 

If your pooch hasn’t eaten for two days, you should get in touch with your vet immediately.

2. Eye redness or unusual eye discharge

Eye appearances may indicate signs of an infection or wound. Due to the speedy progression of eye illnesses, these symptoms should not be disregarded.

As a general rule, if only one eye is afflicted, infection or injury may be to blame. Consider a systemic condition, such as allergies or other health issues, if both eyes are affected.

3. Vomiting

Normally, dogs vomit to get rid of things that aren’t agreeable to their systems. Generally, a dog vomiting twice or three times in ten minutes and then acting fine is less worrying than a dog vomiting three times in eight hours. 

Prolonged or severe vomiting may lead to dehydration, so you should get help right away.

4. Scooting

Rear-end scooting all around the floor can seem like a goofy dog trick, but it could actually be a sign of worms, an anal gland issue, bowel movement problems, or even a urinary tract infection. 

If your dog starts scooting out of the blue or exhibits more of this behavior, it might be time to go visit a veterinary clinic.

5. Seizures

When a dog has seizures, it trembles and shakes violently. You will often observe it fall to the ground, with its body tensing. It’s also common for it to drool and chew its tongue. 

Even though the eyes are open and the dog is moving about, it almost appears to be unconscious. Until the seizure stops, you should sit with your dog and console it.

READ NEXT: Seizures in Dogs: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Preventions

How Should You Pick Up a Dog That Is in Pain?

Cute puppy picking up by a little girl

When picking up a dog, you must first make the dog aware of your presence.

Then, pick it up with both hands while kneeling to a level position and keep your dog close to you and lean into your chest — don’t let your dog hover! 

Furthermore, hold the dog firmly and use just enough pressure to keep it from wiggling or falling. Use a soothing voice when speaking to avoid scaring or frightening your pup.

Aside from that, there are other things you should consider before picking up a dog, such as its size and its situation — whether it is injured or not. 

The following could be your basis for how you should properly pick up your dog:

For small breed dogs

A small dog, weighing less than 20 pounds, and those puppies that yelp when picked up should be lifted by having your dominant arm wrapped over its chest, just behind its front legs. 

If you require additional support, you can place your second arm behind the dog’s back legs. If the dog is wriggling, you can hold on to its collar or harness as well. 

For medium breed dogs

Medium dogs range in size from 20 to 60 pounds, a pretty sizable weight range. If your dog is on the lower end of the scale, you can use the same methods for small dogs. 

If your dog is on a larger end of the range and is more challenging to lift, you should follow the same methods as for large dogs.

For large breed dogs 

Large breeds, weighing more than 60 pounds, can be challenging for individuals to carry, especially for young children. 

Consequently, they frequently need assistance from another person. One person for lifting the front end behind the dog’s front legs, and the other for lifting the back end at the waist of the dog.

For injured dogs

It is safe to move a tiny dog that has been hurt by wrapping it snugly in a towel. However, if a large dog is injured, it is advised to design a temporary stretcher so that two people may securely move it. 

In case you are all by yourself, you can drag it to safety by placing it on a sizable blanket or tarp.

When Should You Go to the Vet?

When to see vet when dog yelps when picked up

A dog may experience significant discomfort that, if not treated, can worsen and negatively impact its life. 

If one or more of the symptoms below is present on your dog, it is advised to get medical attention from your veterinarian:

  • Broken bones or untreated injuries brought on by an accident
  • Breathing stops or unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Sudden breathing difficulty or collapse
  • Bleeding from the mouth, nose, or eyes
  • Vomiting numerous times for more than an hour or vomiting blood
  • Hard and bloated abdomen
  • Inability to urinate
  • Ingestion of prohibited foods
  • Wobbliness of limbs
  • Sudden disorientation
  • Pale gums

If you are not certain about assessing your dog’s health, keep in mind that you are the expert on your dog’s schedule, habits, and behaviors.

If you have any concerns, trust your gut and contact your veterinarian.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dog picked up by a man

Why Does My Dog Randomly Cry in Pain?

If your dog cries when it moves slightly or attempts to get up, they’re letting you know they are in pain. This usually happens if they have conditions such as arthritis, myelopathy, or degenerative joint disease.

Severe conditions such as ruptured intervertebral disks and neurological disorders may also cause non-stop crying unless proper medication or any pain removal is given.

Why Is My Dog Yelping When Touched?

If your dog starts yelping when touched, it may be shocked or suffering from wounds, infections, or even musculoskeletal issues.

It may also be caused by your improper pick-up, poisons, or due to the pup’s own excitement or anxiety.

Why Is My Dog Suddenly Sensitive to Touch?

Dogs may develop a sensitivity to touch for a number of reasons. This could be due to mental distress, fear of human contact, lack of early handling, pain or discomfort, or a desire to avoid anything unpleasant.

If this happens, the dog needs some behavioral training through positive reinforcement so that the next time you want to snuggle, it won’t be afraid to be taken up.

Does It Hurt My Dog When I Pick Him Up?

Yes, depending on how you carry your dog. If you lift it by the front legs, it could hurt your dog and possibly cause joint and muscle problems. 

However, if you lift it up in the middle of the body, it might be a little safer, but it might still feel uneasy if its entire weight is resting on your one arm or one hand.

Final Thoughts

Dog yelping is not usual. So, when your dog yelps when picked up under the chest, front legs, or back legs, there could be a problem. 

It could be due to your poor approach, or perhaps they are already in pain and are trying to hide it.

Whatever the reason is, you should not ignore it. Dogs don’t have the capacity to heal themselves, and as a matter of fact, they attempt to tell you their agony whenever they can.

Therefore, as a responsible dog owner, you have to be attentive to the changes in their behavior at all times and give your dog immediate treatment. 

Does your dog yelp when you pick it up? Feel free to share your advice on dealing with a yelping dog when picked up in the comment section!