Why Is My Dog Yelping In Pain When Picked Up? (Read This)

It can be annoying and distressing for a pet owner like you once your pet acts this way for no apparent reason. Dog yelping is a sudden sound that signals the owners that there is something wrong, usually in pain. There could also be a lot of reasons why they yelp when picked up.

Why is your dog yelping in pain when picked up? Your dog is yelping in pain because it can be an indication of an injury like on their muscles, joints, or spine. The way you pick them up is inappropriate and painful, or it could be an emotional reaction out of fear, excitement, or surprise.

There are instances where you do not mind so much the moment you pick up your pet or when children play with them. Most of the time, you just pull them up like a doll without thinking of the possible consequences of it.

At times it’s difficult for you to determine where those pains are coming from. That is why it’s always important to observe changes and see a veterinarian asap.

Here is the following information that will help you understand the reasons behind your dog’s yelping and tips on properly managing a dog in pain.

Why Does My Dog Yelp When I Try To Pick Him Up?

Your dogs may yelp when you pick them up because they suffer from some sort of discomfort or physical pain.

As your paw friend’s owner, you should look at the possible causes why they suddenly yelp.

Notice your dog if they keep its head bent down and look at you while moving its eyes only. Perhaps, your dog could be suffering from neck or back pain.

If your dog is an adult, most likely, they have muscle or joint problems. This case is typical, especially for older or senior dogs.

Another thing that may cause your pet to yelp is an infection. If you have ruled out issues on muscles or joints, it could be due to an ear infection. Sometimes, you accidentally touch its ears when you pick them up.

Thus, touching your dog’s ears with an infection will cause them to cry because of pain. 

Other physical injury types can make your dog behave unusually, such as suddenly crying for no reason. 

On the other hand, it’s not all because of pain why your dog will yelp. It can be their way of expressing an emotion. 

A dog may yelp upon seeing you home out of happiness or excitement. Fear can trigger yelping too. A surprised dog who is not expecting you to pick them up may cause them to cry out of shock.

This scenario is common among dogs who have traumatic experiences before. A dog yelping the moment you picked them up can translate it into fear.

A stressful environment can also be one. Your pet may yelp if a stranger picks them up, making them feel uncomfortable. It can make your dog anxious and stressed.

The way you pick them up could also be a factor in why they yelp because it’s painful to them.

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Does It Hurt My Dog When I Pick Him Up?

It does not necessarily hurt your dog when you pick him up as long as you do it properly.

Lifting them by their limbs, like using its two front legs or the same as picking a doll, will only cause injuries to your dog.

Your dog’s limbs do not function to support its entire body weight when being lifted. Being picked up by its two front legs puts irregular force on its elbows, shoulders, front toes, and even on its spine. It will strain its muscles and may potentially dislocate its shoulder or elbow.

It’s better to pick them in the middle. However, it can still make your dog uncomfortable.

This happens when all of your dog’s body weight lies on its belly on which you are holding them using only a hand.

For smaller breeds, the proper way of picking them up is holding them through their ribcage and placing one arm around the dog.

On the other hand, larger breeds are appropriately held and picked up by placing one arm around them under its lower abdomen while the other hand is in front of the chest.

Aside from properly holding them, it should be a must to ask permission before picking up a dog, especially for children, let them go right away if the dog shows discomfort and appears to be injured.

How Do You Pick Up A Dog In Pain?

Dogs who are in pain should be picked up with care. 

There are different ways on how to pick up a dog that is in pain. If they are injured, you need to lift them to transport to the veterinary hospital. These ways also matter to the dog’s size and where the pain is coming from.

Give your dog a verbal cue that they are about to be picked up. Wait until your dog is relaxed before lifting. You may also opt to use a towel or a leash over its head and use it when holding its limbs.

If your paw friend is a small breed, it’s alright to lift them with one arm only. Just place your arm underneath its chest between its front legs. To keep your small dog properly supported, tuck them between your arm and body.

Medium dogs will require you to pick them up using your dominant arm behind its legs. Then, use your other hand to wrap them around its front chest while holding your dog closely to your chest.

For large dog breeds that may weigh 40lbs or more, you may need help from another person. Making your dog feel unsecured like they’re going to fall, will add to their pain and struggle.

Aside from that, it would be best if you also positioned yourself correctly when picking them. Bend your knees as you draw closer to your dog’s level.

Lift them with your legs, and do not bend over towards your dog. It will injure your back that way.

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What To Do If Your Dog Is Yelping In Pain When Picked Up?

There are ways to deal with your dog who is yelping in pain whenever you pick them up. Here is some of it.

1. Collect Necessary Information

When your dog is yelping in pain, if you picked them up, the first and most crucial thing to do is determine the source of their pain, how long do they yelp, and possible causes of their pain.

Things you need to consider also are the events before that yelping of your dog. When does it first start, and what could have caused it.

All information gathered will be essential for your veterinarian to determine your dog’s treatment.

2. Limit Movement

If you suspect them of having injuries somewhere in their body, as much as possible, try to limit your dog’s movement. Avoid engaging your pet in some strenuous activities. 

By doing so, it will help not worsen the condition of your pet.

3. Stay Calm

Sometimes your dog may express fear because of the way you interact with them when picking up. It may cause them to be anxious or stressed.

The best thing to do is to be calm when approaching them. Avoid picking your dog forcefully.

4. Pick Them Up Appropriately

If your dog is not lifted appropriately, chances are they will yelp in pain.

Please do not pick them up quickly or forcefully. Be gentle and careful that they will not seem to fall. There are proper ways of handling them based on your dog’s size, mentioned earlier.

5. Take Your Dog To Vet

Once your dog manifests some signs of injuries and shows changes in behavior, it can be an indication that you need to ask for a professional.

It’s also better to bring your dog as soon as possible, mostly if you can’t figure out what is wrong with them. By doing so, you save your pet from a possible major health problem.

A professional might run tests on your dog, such as physical and neurological exams that will help them identify your dog’s problem. Thus, they can think of the best solution for it.

dog and vet

When Should You Go To See A Vet?

It is hard to detect if your dog’s yelping in pain is a threat already to their life or not. It would be great if you were keen in noticing some changes among your paw friends. 

The best time to bring your dog to the vet if you have noticed some of the following symptoms.

1. Dog Trauma

Your dog may seem to look doing well at first. But the moment you pick them up, it unexpectedly yelps in pain. Your dog might have sustained trauma.

It could be through getting involved in a fight with other dogs or by getting hit without your knowledge.

Then, immediate attention from a veterinarian is needed.

2. Difficulty In Breathing And Having Seizures

Breathing difficulty is one of the common indications of a significant health problem that immediately needs medical attention. Sometimes, when the dog is panting, it may be overlooked as a sign of pain in them.

Also, once your dog shows tremors or shaking in which they have never manifested before, then it’s best to see a vet.

3. Other Behavioral And Emotional Changes

Sudden changes in your dog’s moods, actions, and even its routines will tell you something is not right. Anything excessive or less than usual sleeping patterns, eating, affection, or movements, can indicate a health problem.

If these things are observed, call your Vet for an expert opinion.

Those symptoms mentioned are just a few of the many different indications you have to observe in your dog that will tell you that you should see a vet.


In summary, since dogs cannot talk, it’s challenging to identify what is wrong with them.

Yelping merely is telling you that they feel something. Actually, it’s one of your paw friend’s signals that they are in pain.

Though dogs may have different ways of communicating with you, it is your responsibility to understand those body language and verbal cues as an owner.

It would help if you were mindful of some symptoms that will tell you when to see your veterinarian.

Now that you know the proper and improper ways of picking up your dog make sure to carry them safely.

There are also ways to guide you in dealing with your paw friend when they are in pain. Please take note of those tips that will help you pick up your dog who is in pain and what to do on them.

Never let your dog feel unsafe around your arms when you lift them. Love them and show your utmost care and compassion.


Image credits – Canva

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