View Full Version : Crying/Yelping When Picked up?

17th March 2007, 04:05 AM
Hi there,

It's been a while, but no news is good news. Sadie's been with us for almost six months now and is really a part of the family. She's pretty much rid of the anxiety and shyness she displayed initially and is really a happy dog with a tail that wags the second she catches a glimpse of us.

One thing has remained questionable: When we pick her up, if we lift her front legs at all (as would be the "normal" way to pick up a dog her size), she screams and yelps like we're torturing her. Obviously, we don't make a habit of lifting her up this way anymore. In the interim, we now "scoop" her up by reaching around the barrel of her stomach, supporting her but and then cradling her. However, once in a while a vet or groomer will make the mistake of lifting her the wrong way and she'll scream and yelp like it's the most painful thing in the world---it kills me.. I was told that cavs have a very low threshold for pain, but it still strikes me as odd. She is completely patient when she is being brushed/groomed/bathed, but she really freaks when she's lifted up by grabbing her chest area under her front legs. Any thoughts or similar stories?

17th March 2007, 05:13 AM
Our Beauregard is sensitive like that, too... Elvis isn't. Beau doesn't like to be picked up at all, but when he realizes it's inevitable he'll turn around and face away from you so you have to pick him up by cradling his belly. I suspect it would hurt us too if somebody tried to pick us up by the arm pits. ;)


17th March 2007, 05:26 AM
No matter how small a dog is, I will always pick them up by having them facing away from me, then I place my right hand or arm (depending on dog size) under the chest, and use my left hand to support the rump. I don't know if my dogs would yelp if I tried to pick them up facing me & under the arms, but I suspect they would. That is an awful lot of weight to be slung off some little arm-pits.

I always shudder when I see someone lift a puppy (or worse an adult dog) as though it were a human baby.

Have you spoken to the vets about this? How old is Sadie? There are lots of reason for pain, ranging from old injuries, to arthritis, to the more sinister things like SM... but to name a few.

17th March 2007, 06:58 AM
Kingston is the same way. I think many dogs just have sensitive spots. I always try to support his body as much as I can when I lift him.

Cathy Moon
17th March 2007, 11:51 AM
India is the same way. We are very careful when we pick her up. I always warn the vet techs, groomer, and kennel folks.

17th March 2007, 12:57 PM
The idea that you should pick up a dog like a cat, by the front arms, is wrong. Their legs do not articulate in directions that make being lifted from the front either natural or comfortable -- totally different from a cat which is far more flexible. A dog should ideally be completely supported by lifting under the chest AND supporting back legs as you lift -- not left to dangle the majority of its body weight from its shoulders. It is possible to pick up some dogs, which do not mind being lifted in this way, from the front, but you really need to do this with the utmost caution and by immediately transferring support to the full body. There isn't really any reason to choose to lift a dog this way though and it is much better and safer to lift from under the body.

That said: Any dog that is uncomfortable being lifted should be checked thoroughly by a vet. It could just be the angle you were lifting her, but to me it sounds like something else may be going on. The pain could potentially relate to anything from joint/patella problems to neurological problems. Limb pain of this sort is often reported as an element of syringomyelia, though you'd likely be seeing other symptoms as well. But do make sure you are familiar with the symptoms list (at my SM site listed in my sig below) and I would definitely suggest having your vet check this dog and also giving the print-outable sheets from the SM site to your vet so they have them on file for general info, if you haven't done this already (you will see that three documents are available as word files to be printed out).

I would be concerned to have your vet think about checking for SM simply because the front legs/shoulders are often the most sensitive area for a dog with developing syrinxes as they press on the nerve endings in this area and manipulating the legs could cause extreme pain. It would not be normal for basic manipulation of the legs, pulling them forward etc, to cause pain or basic grooming to cause pain -- if you have ever seen a vet check for arthritis you'll know they pull pretty hard and at various angles to check for stiffness and pain and an unaffected dog will not be pained with this. Hence I'd start by having the vet completely check those legs and depending on the result, consider either an orthopedist or neurologist if they are causing significant pain. It is always wise to eliminate any serious problems rather than assume this is only related to lifting as in this case it sounds like a very strong reaction.

Many neurologists are absolutely convinced the reason CKCS have for many years been known as 'extra sensistive to pain', 'wimps at injections' etc, is the high rate of SM in the breed (Jaspar, who has MRId without either the malformation or SM, shows no such sensitivity). It IS extremely painful for many of them, including those who show no other symptoms, to get needles into the neck (where syrinxes are located!), to be poked and prodded, to be groomed, to have limbs pulled, to be lifted or touched in sensitive areas -- neuropathic pain can be one of the very worst types of pain and hence it is very important IMHO to try to determine if a dog's pain is caused by SM, as there are pain relievers that will make day to day life a lot more comfortable. I have simply never heard of normal dogs have sensisitve areas -- I firmly believe there is a reason any animal is sensitive but we often do not seek out that reason.

Cathy Moon
17th March 2007, 01:12 PM
India is fine when we lift her as Caraline described. Our vets have examined her, and they haven't found anything wrong.

We just need to make sure that anyone who might lift her is taught the proper way to do it.

17th March 2007, 01:29 PM
Pain can definitely be cause by lifting from front legs alone, as described. :thmbsup: Jaspar actually likes to be picked up from the front -- he will stand on his hind legs and reach to be picked up -- but I scoop up his butt as well so he is supported right away. Really little dogs with little body weight probably don;t have the same issues with being lifted from the front but I wouldn't try it with a dog over about 7-8 lbs myself.

If there are signs of pain from a range of activities -- including routine handling by a groomer -- then I'd definitely want to have limbs checked very thoroughly.

17th March 2007, 02:11 PM
When examined by both vet and neurologist my Cavalier never let a peep. Every joint was moved, every examination done and still nothing......perhaps just a little hand shyness in the neck area and when a hand came down from above. Just a slight back away movement. No other sign did she give that anything else was wrong. Her tail even wagged when finished as if to say "Thank you"!

At home we have the reluctance to walk far but she is slightly getting on in her years, she is reserved when high activity is around her staying well out of it, again it could be an age thing or that my other dogs are to noisy when playing for her.
We havn't had one scratch from her.
On the outside you wouldn't think there was much wrong. She would have passed the examination without showing much concern. A beautiful girl, a stunner indeed. So you ask why did I scan?

Well the scan revealed so much more.

What she has going on inside her MUST give her great pain and dis-comfort, but they don't always tell us. They are brave little dogs and don't like to give up much. Perhaps it's back to pack instincts when a weak and vunerable dog would be cast out and left behind. Who knows. Or perhaps they just learn to live with the continued growing pain and dis-comfort.

Please owners don't ignore the signs, even the smallest of them. If in any doubt investigate, especially with SM being so widespread within the breed. It isn't to panic anyone but to ensure that your dog gets the treatment it needs for this.

I don't know just what it was that told me something wasn't quite right. Other signals were obviously there, she face rubs and scoots etc. I'm glad I followed it through and have now been able to start her on some medictions to keep her comfortable.

It was worse for me to wonder than to know.


Cathy Moon
17th March 2007, 02:44 PM
I see what you mean - if India stopped initiating play with my other cavs or if she was reluctant to play and run or go for a walk, that would definitely be a signal to have her checked again and to pursue having her MRI scanned if she didn't resume her normal level of activity.

She regularly initiates play and long chasing sessions with Geordie, so that's a huge reason why I'm not worried about her at this time.

It might be more difficult to gauge her level of 'okay-ness' if she were an only dog and not very playful. I would be more likely to have her scanned in that case!

Cathy T
17th March 2007, 03:01 PM
Neither of mine can be picked up like a baby. Both of them will yelp with discomfort. Jake is definitely more vocal about it. He will also yelp if you start (haven't even touched him yet) to pick him up this way to warn you he does not like that!! Even as babies neither of them tolerated it. I've had several people at various times start to pick them up that way, they immediately yelp and the person will jump back, alarmed, and apologize for hurting the dog. I explain that they just don't like to be held like that. Try having someone scoop you up underneath your armpits and let your body weight hang :yikes Ouch!!

SadieScoots - the way you are picking her up is correct. Scoop from behind or the side and support her.

I've seen people carrying them Cavaliers in one arm. Unfortunately Jake is so big this is not comfortable to him. He absolutely needs to be held with both hands if it's going to be for any duration of time. I can momentarily hold him with one arm, but then he will start squirming and needs more support.

17th March 2007, 04:48 PM
if India stopped initiating play with my other cavs or if she was reluctant to play and run or go for a walk, that would definitely be a signal to have her checked again and to pursue having her MRI scanned if she didn't resume her normal level of activity.


Thats something to watch for....my mad Whitney at the other end of the scale (and scanned clear of SM) thinks she is a collie! she runs as fast as the shelties without a care in the world, she jumps sky high with all her weight behind her and twists in mid air, there certainly is a difference. She just looks so comfortable with herself.


17th March 2007, 07:33 PM
Mine are all small enough to be slung across a hip under one arm but they can support their body weight with their feet, which are kind of braced against me.

Leo, my SM boy, actually is not tender anywhere at all -- very rarely he will give a small yelp if touched somewhere up under his armpit -- but I am pretty careful with him. That said he is rather clumsy (I am sure this is SM limb weakness now) and can lose his balance if standing on a lap for example or sometimes when he tries to jump on a lap, and he will fall right over on his side and often roll to his back -- it is scary when it happens but doesn't seem to actually hurt him. :shock: I suppose I am fortunate in that at this time, he experiences his SM symtpoms as discomfort and scratching but not as neuropathic pain.

20th March 2007, 01:27 AM
Thanks for the reassurance. I really don't think it's anything to worry about, now that I know lots of other cavaliers don't like to be picked up that way. She's generally a very happy dog. Sadie loves going for walks and is practically a gymnast when it comes to jumping on/off/across the couch. She is a pretty big girl, so it's hard to grab her with only one arm. However, nobody in our family is trying to carry her around like some sort of accessory.

Thanks again for your help!

Joanne M
20th March 2007, 01:59 AM
First, Sadie is adorable, what a sweet little face. Tucker is the same way, all depends on who picks him up, but he yelps if it's not the right way. For the most part, I have him jump up to me, if I can, or I scoop him up under the belly.

21st March 2007, 10:02 PM
Thats something to watch for....my mad Whitney at the other end of the scale (and scanned clear of SM) thinks she is a collie! she runs as fast as the shelties without a care in the world, she jumps sky high with all her weight behind her and twists in mid air, there certainly is a difference. She just looks so comfortable with herself.


This is so reassuring- it could be describing Amber. Acrobatic is an apt descriptor. Holly gets up on to chairs in the normal way. Amber flies on to them, sailing over the arm in the process! Given that she looks like she's going to stay on the small end of the scale and the (12" at withers) and the top of the chair arm is quite a bit higher than that- and there's a coffee stand right next to it that she just about clears as well. She also spins on her hind legs like a little ballerina when she's watching me in the kitchen. Holly dives and twists and spins when she wants something, but she usually just sits and watches with a "what does she think she's doing?" expression. And they both adore running.