View Full Version : Yelps when picked up

17th April 2007, 02:04 PM
Hi everyone, could someone give me some advise, we've had our puppy Charlie for two weeks now and he's doing fine, only very occasionally when he's picked up he gives out a 'yelp' or cry, is it just that we've picked him up the wrong way, it does'nt happen very often but would like to know if others have had this happen ?

Molly's mom
17th April 2007, 02:08 PM
It's been my experience that people tend to pick up puppies under the arms (armpits) like a cat. It didn't take long for Molly to let us know that it hurt and she didn't like it.

17th April 2007, 02:11 PM
How are you picking him up? You should never pick him up by his front arms, but by supporting him under his belly and his legs. If you are picking him up from the front like a human baby, you may be placing his forelimbs into a painful position. Dogs generally cannot support their weight in this way (by contrast, cats can) and lifting them this way can be really painful.

Some puppies may have sensitive spots; maybe he banged himself somewhere for example. But also keep in mind that unexplained yelping does indicate some sort of pain if it keeps happening and isn;t just because perhaps you startled him or accidentally pinched him. Yelping/pain could be due to a range of things. Yelping without reason and body sensitivity is a possible symptom of syringomyelia though probably unlikely in a young puppy. However do be aware of all the symtpoms and make sure your vet knows about this condition. You can print out a number of documents for your vetand get more information at:


I'd have your vet check him out thoroughly on your next visit and see if they can find where he is hurting.

17th April 2007, 06:04 PM
I realize yelping means pain, and I dont mean to dismiss that, but Kodee yelped at the slightest thing when we got her. If she stepped on a crumb (that actually happened!). She yelped about 3x a wk for the first 2mths occassionally when picked up, when she hopped into a lap to cuddle and even when my neighbour used to go pat her head (that was odd, it was only this woman and everytime she touched her??).

Now she shows no signs of this ever. The vet looked her over, and she said her personality and often cavaliers are a bit babyish - drama queens! She said not to dismiss it as obviously they dont just make yelping sounds instead of barking, it is a response but an overture of one. Back then she did also have problems with a few food ingredients and looking back, once the diet got right the yelping stopped - so maybe in her case it was stomach related.

I just wanted to point out yes you do watch it, yes you do talk to your vet but in doing so dont jump to conclusions it may fade as she gets more settled etc..

I dont know if this is true so anyone correct me if I am wrong, but my kids got growing pains all the time - growth spurts always came with complaints of soreness here or there. I dont see why a puppy would not be the same. The doctor said the same thing about my kids, they were very intuned into their body feelings more so than other kids....

Cathy Moon
17th April 2007, 06:09 PM
One of my cavaliers, India, has always been sensitive that way. We've had her checked by the vet, and they cannot find anything wrong with her. As long as we pick her up carefully and correctly, she's fine.

17th April 2007, 07:39 PM
nd often cavaliers are a bit babyish - drama queens

I have heard this from many vets too and heard it even before I decided to get a cavalier.

However: I have also now spoken to a wide range of neurologists who feel there is a very likely reason for this -- that many cavaliers who are 'drama queens' actually have the sensitivites and pain that come from the skull malformation that can result in SM, or have SM itself. If 90%-plus of ALL cavaliers have the skull malformation, that means probably most have some restriction in the flow of the fluid that baths the brain and flows around the spine. This alone can cause some cavaliers to be symptomatic with full SM symptoms, and that same restirction of flow can cause gradual syrinx formation. It would therefore make sense in a breed in which almost every dog has malformation of this sort and at least half of research samples have syrinxes, that this would cause extra sensitivity and pain -- ESPECIALLY from injections into the shoulder area. Talk to UK and Irish vets and they will say 'Oh, cavaliers always are big crybabies when they get their injections." More likely it is because a needle is being stuck into the single most sensitive area of their bodies. :confused:

If you have a dog that is uncomfortable being touched, especially in head, ears, neck, spine, or leg areas, yelps when injected, occasionally yelps when touched for no discernible reason, or sometimes cries in pain when lifted or being touched -- these actions have all been strongly correlated to the presence of the malformation and syrinxes. This is because the increased CSF pressure and/or syrinxes press against nerve endings and make the dog hypersensitive/painful in these specific areas. Syrinxes and increased pressure are focused in the lower neck upper spine area, and this is where the nerves are concentrated that involve sensations in the shoulder, head, neck and limbs.

Neurologists increasingly think cavaliers owners need to be very aware of these issues in this breed and not think that, because a cavalier does not have really obvious SM symptoms, it doesn't have any SM or CM (malformation) related pain. This doesn't mean a dog will develop fully symptomatic SM, but does mean to keep in mind that these dogs are burdened with this health issue in huge numbers and it is a likely reason for why some dogs are especially sensitive -- if a dog shows pain, then avoid the type of touch that produces it. And just keep an eye out for further development as if pain becomes more common and general, there are medications that can keep a dog very comfortable with this type of low level pain.

Barbara Nixon
17th April 2007, 07:49 PM
A cosy way to hold a puppy or adult cavalier is to scoop his backend so he lies on your forearm, then support him across his chest with your other arm.

A particular place you can hurt (try it on yourself) is his floating rib. Catching the end or pinching skin near it is very unpleasant.

17th April 2007, 08:13 PM
I either support mine using two hands, carry like Barbara has described, or brace the Cav's back legs against my body/hip so the dog is fully supported. Holly, it has be said, adores being carried this way; Amber is one of those Cavs that is just as happy being cradled upside down like a baby! Which my mum is very fond of doing, funnily enough....

What Karlin says makes a lot of sense- and it's not fair to dismiss constant discomfort or sensitivity this way by putting it down to babyishness. Then again, Cav pups can be funny about how they're picked up in those first few weeks. I've always supported my pups fully, and still had the odd yelp when they were very small. They both outgrew it.

Cathy T
17th April 2007, 11:49 PM
Both of mine must be scooped up and supported. Neither will tolerate being picked up under their front arm pits. Just will not tolerate it!!

Cathy Moon
18th April 2007, 01:18 AM
A cosy way to hold a puppy or adult cavalier is to scoop his backend so he lies on your forearm, then support him across his chest with your other arm.

A particular place you can hurt (try it on yourself) is his floating rib. Catching the end or pinching skin near it is very unpleasant.

Barbara, I'm not familiar with the floating rib, can you tell us more about it? I have a feeling that might be India's sensitive area.

Also, the area by her breast bone feels different than my other two cavs, but it is difficult to explain - there seems to be a tiny bit of 'movement' there.

18th April 2007, 07:19 AM
What Karlin says makes a lot of sense- and it's not fair to dismiss constant discomfort or sensitivity this way by putting it down to babyishness. Then again, Cav pups can be funny about how they're picked up in those first few weeks. I've always supported my pups fully, and still had the odd yelp when they were very small. They both outgrew it.But that is pretty much what I was saying, in a young pup they seem to outgrow it - my words were babyish, the vet was much more eloquent in her wording but some meaning. SM in a young pup as has been noted would be very rare and less likely to disappear.

18th April 2007, 12:02 PM
SM has been diagnosed in puppies as young as 8 weeks and surgery done on 12 week olds. Highly symptomatic SM is seen less in young puppies, but more severely affected dogs do tend to get scoliosis and other symtpoms starting around six months old. Researchers themselves have repeatedly pointed out that signs are generally missed for on average almost TWO YEARS before proper diagnosis is made so very likely, people do see the signs early on and dismiss them as 'just puppy stuff' or 'allergies' or whatever.

Wnat is important for cavalier owners to understand is, *it is not normal for puppies to have pain on and off, yelp for no reason as if from pain, have difficulty being handled and touched* (the reason such a reaction could be restricted to one person is if for some reason that person especially frightens or excites a pup -- which increases the heartrate, which in turn increases the rate at which CSF flows around the brain and spine, which in turn can cause *pain* (that is why SM dogs often scratch when excited or happy -- same principle -- heartrate goes up and CSF flow rises and creates internal pressure on their syrinxes/brain/spine). Leo scratches frantically when he hasn't seen me for a few days because he gets over-excited -- even his medication cannot control this). I have a lot of experience with puppies from working with rescue and with dog trainers and *it is NOT normal for any puppy to go through 'sensitive' periods of pain* regardless of whether they suddenly disappear or not. Other breeds do NOT have this type of sensitivity as a routine feature, and other breeds are NOT routinely labelled crybabies by vets.

SM is very poorly understood as is its development. It may well be that pain experienced due to the malformation and/or syrinxes while the pup is small either eases somewhat as the dog gets older and perhaps the spine or skull grows a bit roomier -- in much the same way that puppies often stop tearing as adults perhaps because their skulls fit the eyes better -- or they develop a higher level of tolerance for chronic pain. If any of you actually live with chronic pain or live with someone who has it, you will know you do learn to tolerate even quite horrendous levels of pain.

There IS a reason for why young cavaliers seem to be hypersensitive when touched. CM/SM must be seen as a possible, and many neurologists would argue, very likely reason, given the fact that nearly all cavaliers have the skull malformation often with some brain herniation (the brain being pushed into the spinal cord), and at least half will eventually develop syrinxes (please note too that this is almost certainly higher -- 70% plus of random samples that had a broader age spread consistently show syrinxes; only the younger (under 5) samples had about 35% with syrinxes and additional dogs in that sample -- from North Carolina -- had what the researchers termed 'hydromyelias' which are basically, small syrinxes).

Given that sensitivity and mysterious signs of pain that come and go are typical maifestations of both CM/SM, it would make sense that such signs appear in young cavaliers because there is some level of affectedness.

If a puppy is showing such signs below age one, then it might be a consideration to have an MRI scan done later at a low cost clinic if one is available just to get a baseline image of the dog.

There are neurologists who have proposed work to better understand how this develops in puppies -- Dr Dewey at Cornell for example wishes to do this but cannot get funding. So there's very little understanding of how SM develops and when and how it affects puppies (or for that matter, human children).

18th April 2007, 01:23 PM
Karlin, should I be concerned about Max when he gives a quick yelp when I have pinched him by mistake when undoing the buckel on his Puppia??? Is that a red flag?? I have noticed that he seems to be more sensitive than Molly, but it's not extreme. He's 8 months old and so far seems healthy... I guess my question is should sensitivity /pain be coupled with other symptoms before we worry about SM??

18th April 2007, 06:03 PM
Hypersensitivity is more pronounced than the odd short lived puppy sensitivity with an odd yelp that goes away and doesnt return. There are two ends of this spectrum and a VET is bested to make that assumption. Especially one who has physically examined them, is knowledgable on SM, has other clients with SM, participates in Guelph University programs and has access to specialists. How glad I am I have that so I dont have to panic at the first yelp due to any number of things.