Dog Yelps When Picked Under Chest— Reasons and Solutions

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Does your dog yelp when picked up under the chest?

Well, as a pet parent, every time our dog cries and yelps, we become concerned and worried for them, isn’t it? And it becomes scarier when we see that our beloved pup is doing it again and again. AND we become puzzled when we don’t understand what is causing it and what we should do immediately to lessen their pain.

Sometimes, when your dog is in pain, you can see or at least understand what the cause is behind it. There are some visible signs of their discomfort, such as a bite mark in the shape of a raccoon’s jaw or limping.

But, again, at times, the reason for their discomfort or pain is totally invisible to the naked eye. And this happens exactly when you pick them up under their chest, and they yelp. In this case, you cannot understand what is wrong with your doggo, as they seem completely alright on the surface – no matter how close and hard you look.

If you face this kind of situation, know that there can be a number of reasons why your furry buddy is in pain.

Does Your Dog Yelp When You Pick Them Up Under Their Chest? Reasons and Their Solutions

I have discussed all the major reasons your dog yelps when picked up under the chest and their solutions here. All you need is to read this post thoroughly and understand what is wrong with your doggo. However, if the case is serious, please take your dog to your vet so that they can examine them well and tell you what needs to be done.

#1. Mental Anguish

Among all the possible reasons for your dog’s yelping when you pick them up under their chest is that they are in shock. Yes, you read that right! Dogs can be in shock too.

If your favorite buddy was sleeping, resting, or doing something else and was not paying attention when you lifted them mid-air, then the chances are that you have scared the living daylights out of them! Because you would feel the same too if someone does that to you. In fact, you might have even screamed, isn’t it?

Now tell me, how large is your dog? Are they a small, medium, or large breed?

If your dog falls under the large or medium breed category, know that they are not thrilled about getting picked up. There are two reasons. One is that they are large and they know it, and two is that they are scared of heights. This applies to dogs of all breeds that have previously been dropped or mishandled. Some dogs may even feel hesitant when you want to carry them.


Well, the solution is REALLY simple, and it is a no-brainer. DON’T pick up your canine companion unless you ACTUALLY need to!

So, what if you need to lift your doggo up for emergency or transportation reasons?

In that case, you need to be very careful. Approach your dog slowly and from the front. Remember, NOT from the back. Also, make sure that you give them a number of visual as well as vocal notices that you are about to touch, hold and carry them.

Now, what if your doggo has not been dropped or was not fearful of being carried previously, and they still yelped?

If you see that this trait of yelping is something that they have developed recently, it would be best to take them to your vet as soon as you can. The chances are that there are some other issues with your dog.

Remember, dogs are really resilient and stoic animals, and they tend to hide the symptoms if they are in pain. So, if they are yelping every now and then, they may have some more serious issues.

#2. Spine, Neck, and Other Musculoskeletal Problems

If your dog just yelped when you picked them up from under their chest, then it could mean that they are having a hurt neck, back pain, abdominal tightness, and arthritis.

If a dog is suffering from musculoskeletal issues, they know that they will not be as mobile as they used to be once. As a result, they will become more reluctant to jump or run than before.

When dogs age and become senior, they are more likely to suffer from arthritis. This is because their joints and cartilage become worn down with age. So, when you move them or pick them up suddenly, they may experience a lot of pain that is hard for them to endure, hence the yelp.

Look closely. Do you notice something unusual in the posture or movement of your dog? Are they facing difficulty while walking, for example, dragging their feet or being wobbly?

Have a close look at the head and neck. Is it facing downwards, and the eyes are only moving all the time – even when it tries to look up and around? This is a clear sign that your four-legged buddy has a sore neck.

If your dog does not have the symptoms above and they are yelping only when you lift them from under their chest, it can mean that somehow they have injured their spine or back.

This is certainly the case if your doggo is just yelping and not showing other symptoms such as losing appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. Pay attention to the back of your dog. Do they have an arched back? Feel their abdominal region. Can you feel any kind of abnormal tightness?

If your dog has back issues, know that it can sometimes lead to the stomach becoming very hard and tight. This can cause abdominal pain.

So, what can you do to understand if the pain is actually abdominal soreness or back pain?

Give your dog some food to eat. If they touch their food even in their most miserable state and eat, know that they have spinal pain.

If there is a back injury in your dog, the chances are that their injury is in their vertebral columns, such as a slipped or bulging disc or a pinched nerve. This injury happens more to dogs with long bodies and short legs, especially if they are obese. Such breeds include Dachshunds and Corgis.

Okay, so this may sound counterintuitive, but it is true that when you lift your dog up, it can make its spine bend, thereby putting pressure on the injured area. It can be a very serious issue if the ruptured and bulging discs press on the spinal cord. Sometimes, it can even result in paralysis.

But hey, don’t panic. You know, just like in humans, not every case of slipped discs and neck pain is serious; the same is the case with the canines. In some cases, you can manage it by giving anti-inflammatory medication to your doggo, along with plenty of cage rest. But, whatever it is, you need to diagnose the injury properly first. And for this, you can always take help from your vet.


Do you suspect that your doggo has a back or neck injury, and that is the reason they are yelping?

Do an initial check-up at your home. Don’t worry. I will guide you through this.


I have already mentioned earlier that dogs don’t like to express their pain. So, if you examine them using too much force, it can make their pain even worse. Be careful. If you don’t think you can assess your dog, you don’t have to. Just leave it to the vet. They will examine the dog, and from the subtle muscle tension differences, they will be able to tell you if there is anything wrong with your dog.

Movement Testing

Take your dog’s legs in your hand and move them back and forth. Straighten and flex them as you move them. Do you find any signs of pain in your dog while you do so? Let them walk around for a bit. If they keep looking down or sway while moving, take them to your vet as soon as you can so that your vet can do a neurological exam and see what is going on with your dog.

Next, you need to hold your pup’s head in your hand and move it gently and slowly up and down. Make sure that they can look up the ceiling and down on the ground. Then move the head from one side to another, ensuring it remains flat against its body. The intention here is to see if there is any resistance or pain.

If you can feel that they are in pain, stop right there, as this is a sign that your doggo is suffering from neck pain.

But if there is no sign of any pain till now, check your dog for back pain. By making use of your fingers firmly yet gently over your dog’s back, press on it. This is to see if there is any specific sore spot out there. You need to begin from the back of their neck and then work your way gently to the tail.

Did your dog show any signs of pain? Did they yelp at any point?

Then book an appointment with your vet and immediately take them to your vet.

#3. Skin Infections and Soft Tissue Injuries

If your doggo has any kind of soft tissue injuries, such as bruises or open wounds in their chest area, it can also make them yelp when you touch them. Again, it is a no-brainer that these areas are soft, and if you touch there or lift them, placing your hands on those areas, they will show pain by whining.

Also, the chances are in that area, there are skin infections or abnormal growth, leading your doggo to yelp. If any tumor, cyst, or blister has developed in the chest area of your doggo, and if you put pressure on that area, they can face a significant amount of discomfort or pain.

As your dog is yelping when you pick them up under the chest, there can also be a broken rib. And if that happens, you may notice some other symptoms that are closely related to pulmonary issues, such as difficulty in breathing and coughing. And if there is a displacement of the rib, you will see that there is a dent in your dog’s chest wall.

However, if your beloved buddy doesn’t always yelp but only when you pick them up, then it is unlikely that they have fractured ribs. Broken ribs cause extreme panting and discomfort whenever they breathe and not only when you touch them.


If you want to treat a soft tissue injury correctly, you need to diagnose it properly.

Is it a surface wound that you can have a look at, for example, a cut or a scrape? Then you need to treat it properly by first cleaning and then disinfecting the area. For this, you can use medical sprays or ointments such as Bactine. After that, you need to provide a dressing or a bandage over the area.

There can be a number of causes for lesions, bumps, and skin infections. And all these can be diagnosed accurately only by a professional or a trained vet. Otherwise, it can lead to infectious diseases, clogged oil glands, and even cancer. So, a vet should examine your dog thoroughly so that they can tell you about the root cause of the issue.

However, if there is nothing on the surface of your dog’s skin that is causing pain, then the chances are that the injury is lurking below the surface.

Ways You Can Evaluate Your Dog:

  • The first thing you need to do is think back and try really hard! Does your dog have any trauma, such as getting hit by a car, getting accidentally kicked, or falling off a high place? Try to remember.
  • Does your dog have difficulty breathing? Or are they coughing?
  • Use your fingers by rubbing them and pressing firmly along the rib cage of your dog. Do you find any signs of soreness? Of course, you need to check the breastbone and sternum too.

Did your dog show any signs of discomfort or pain from the pressure of your fingers on their ribs? If so, then the chances are that they have a soft tissue injury, such as a bruise or strain present.

Now, at this point, it is always best to take your furry buddy to your vet so that they can examine your pet more thoroughly. But, of course, there are ways you can ease the pain of your doggo and start the healing process. So, you can use an ice pack over the affected area numerous times throughout the day. This will reduce inflammation.

Limit the level of your dog’s activity and exercise. And for that, keep them into a space that is safe and small – a space where there are no chances of your doggo jumping onto furniture. And for times of toilet break, make use of the leash to make sure that they don’t run away the moment you let them out. You should reassess their status every day.

Now, don’t take some human OTC painkiller that has been lying around in your home and give that to your doggo. It is a HUGE no-no! It would be better if you could leave it to the professionals. Check for a few days. If you see that your pup is not getting any better, take them to your vet for prescribed medications for animal pain and do an X-ray.

#4. You Picked Them Up In The Wrong Way

If you pick your pup up in a way that you should not, they will definitely feel pain. So you should always be gentle while handling your doggo. And when you do so, you will notice that they don’t cry and behave differently.

Do you have kids at home? You need to teach them how to hold a dog the right way. For example, tell them that they should do it from the side when approaching a dog.

Also, you need to let your kids sit down and practice the right way to pick up a dog so that they don’t accidentally drop the dog.

Did you know that a number of Chihuahuas (a small breed dog) have been dying because of being stepped on or dropped?

You need to use both your hands in order to pick your doggo up the right way. So while you put one hand on the dog’s ramp, use the other hand widely spread to support the chest.

Your pointer finger and thumb should give their underarms support.

#5. Anxiety

Just as you, your dog may be anxious too. Sometimes, when you pick them up, it only adds to the fear and stress that they are already feeling. This is especially true for cases when your dog doesn’t know the person picking them up.

This happens if your pup has been exposed to a stressor in the form of a loud sound, another dog, or even a person.

Does your dog have separation anxiety?

Then the chances are that they will yelp when you pick them up. So, you need to make sure to desensitize your doggo to the stressors – whatever it is. This is to ensure that your pup is not anxious or not feeling on edge all the time.

#6. Your Dog is Frightened or Scared

When you pick a dog up, it can be scared. So in order to make sure that they are scared of being picked up and because of that they are yelping, approach them quickly. Are they likely to cry? If so, then yes, they yelped because of this reason.

So, what can you do? Well, always try to approach your pup gently. Is their yelping only limited to the time you actually pick them up?

Then be gentle when you carry them the next time.

But if you notice that your doggo always remains somewhat scared, they require at least some sort of positive reinforcement. For example, they may stop getting scared of being lifted when they understand that you want to love and cuddle them.

First, let them know by all means that you are going to pick them up. Then, to be on an equal level, kneel in front of them. Now use both your hands to pick them up.

Hold them against your chest after you pull them close. Don’t let your dog hover. Hold your dog properly and only apply force to make sure that you don’t drop or wiggle them.

Use a soothing voice to communicate with them so that they are not scared or frightened by you.

#7. Excitement

Some dogs get excited too soon. When you pick them up, they yelp to show you how excited they are. What if you are unsure if your dog is yelping out of excitement or fear?

In that case, pay close attention and read their body language. Some other signs that show that your dog is really excited and happy to get picked include wagging their tail, seeing you with wide-open eyes, and showing their tongue.

What Are the Signs That Show Your Dog is in Pain?

What are the Signs That Show Your Dog is in Pain

It is not that easy to understand that your dog is in pain. This could be the reason why they yelp every time you pick them up. So, I suggest looking closely and seeing if you could notice any of the symptoms described above. For example, dogs with chronic muscular pain can have a hard time lying down, and dogs with spinal problems are twitchy.

Apart from these symptoms, I have come up with some more signs that you need to look out for:

  • Difficulty in Breathing

If your dog faces so much pain that they find it difficult to handle, they can develop difficulties in breathing too. Pay close attention to them. Are they panting even in cold weather? Dogs tend to pant in order to stop their bodies from getting overheated. But, when they pant, even when the weather is cold, it is clear that something is going on with them. In that case, head for a medical checkup.

  • Loss of Appetite

You need to monitor your pup’s eating habits. This is one way of determining your dog is okay. For example, if your dog is in pain, they don’t like to eat in most cases. However, if their condition becomes severe, they may completely lose their appetite. So, if your dog has stopped eating and they are yelping, book an appointment with your vet immediately.

  • Redness in the eyes or a discharge from the eyes

Both of these conditions indicate that your dog is in pain. Therefore, you need to take your doggo to the vet. That being said, if your dog yelps only when you pick them up, then the chances are that they don’t have an eye infection. In the case of the latter, they will yelp constantly. Also, it would be accompanied by a fever.

What is The Right Way to Pick Up a Dog That is in Pain?

What is The Right Way to Pick Up a Dog That is in Pain?

If your furry buddy is in pain, you need to handle or pick them up with a lot of care. If they are injured, take them to the vet by lifting them up. Of course, this depends a lot on the dog’s size and where the pain is coming from.

Let your dog understand that you are going to carry them. Let them relax before you pick them up. You can use a towel or a leash over their head and hold the limbs with it.

Does your dog belong to the small breed category?

Then you can lift them using one arm. Place the arm under the chest, making sure it is between the front legs. Now tuck your dog between your arm and your body to support them well.

Does your dog belong to the medium breed category?

Place your arm behind their legs and wrap around the front chest with your hand. Hold them close.

Does your dog fall under the large breed category that weighs more than 40lbs?

In that case, you may need some help from another person. However, your dog should not feel insecure in any way, as it may add to their pain and struggle.

What Happens When You Reach the Vet’s Office?

What Happens When You Reach the Vet's Office?

Once you take your four-legged buddy to the vet, their treatment generally starts with a physical examination, neurological assessment, and X-rays.

This way, your vet can determine the extent of the damage or the issue. Also, they check whether they need to treat your dog with medication and cage rest, or they need more serious procedures, for example, surgery, if needed.

If your doggo goes for a standard X-ray, the chances are that their disk lesions may not show up – unless they have deteriorated so much that they have become mineralized and bony. If this is the case with your dog, you will see that the spaces between the discs have narrowed. If your vet sees that the X-ray doesn’t reveal things as such, they may ask you to go for another imaging procedure, such as an MRI.

If the vet sees that your dog yelps when picked up under the chest because of back pain, they usually prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines like a muscle relaxant, steroid, and NSAID. Also, your vet may prescribe a STRICT cage rest.

And by strict cage rest, the vet means that your dog:

  • Can’t go on walks
  • Can’t jump up and down furniture
  • Can’t go up and down the stairs
  • Can’t play
  • Can only move around when and only if it is really necessary. You have to bring water and food to the dog.

However, if your dog takes rest very seriously and listens to what the vet says, they will be able to recover completely and return to their normal life. But unfortunately, some dogs will experience relapse and have episodes now and then. And if the latter happens, you need to manage them continually with medication and rest.

Surgery, in these cases, is generally rare. However, it may be necessary if your pup risks worsening and continuing pain or permanent nerve damage.


If your dog yelps after being vaccinated or if they have had an accident, it is no doubt worrying. But when you don’t know the reason why your dog yelps when picked up under the chest, it can be frightening.

Dogs rarely cry or yelp unless they are in real pain and discomfort. So the best thing that you can do is take them to your vet, especially when you are not sure what is causing them to yelp.

The vet can diagnose and treat your dog – whatever the reason for their pain is. And with a well-balanced diet, proper rest, and medication, your dog will quickly be back to its active and normal life.

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