Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Yelps When Being Picked Up?

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

As a small, gentle breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a beloved companion for many families.

However, their size sometimes puts them at a disadvantage and injuries may arise because of it.

What if your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel yelps when being picked up?

The potential cause for such behavior is usually due to pain or discomfort that happened because of an injury or a health issue such as hip dysplasia or intervertebral disc disease. Another potential cause is fear or anxiety arising from a negative past experience.

When this happens, it can be concerning for any dog parent, and it’s important to understand the reasons behind it and how to address it.

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Why is my cavalier yelping when being picked up

2 Potential causes of CKCS yelping

1. Pain or discomfort due to health issues

One reason why a Cavalier may yelp when picked up is because of pain or discomfort.

This breed is prone to certain health issues, such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and intervertebral disc disease, which can cause pain when the dog is handled or lifted.

Another common problem that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels face is Syringomyelia, a condition that affects up to 70% of the breed. I will cover more on this in a later section

In some cases, the pain or discomfort might just be temporary and should go away pretty quickly, but you need to keep a close eye on your dog to make sure it is not otherwise.

These are the signs that a dog is in pain or discomfort:

  1. Whimpering or whining: Dogs will often whine or whimper more so than usual when they are in pain. This is often a sign that they are trying to communicate that they are uncomfortable or need help.
  2. Changes in behavior: If your dog is usually active and playful but suddenly becomes lethargic and unwilling to move, that is very telling. Similarly, if your dog is normally calm and relaxed but becomes irritable or aggressive, that is a sign you need to pay attention to.
  3. Changes in posture or gait: Dogs in pain may change their posture in order to relieve pressure on their sore areas. For example, a dog with a sore leg may hold it up off the ground or limp.
  4. Loss of appetite: Your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel not eating is possibly due to pain and may lose their appetite and refuse to eat. This can be a serious concern, as it can lead to weight loss and other health problems.
  5. Changes in sleeping patterns: Dogs in pain may sleep more or less than usual, or they may have difficulty getting comfortable to sleep.

If your Cavalier is yelping when picked up, the first thing you should check for is any obvious injuries.

Anything that is visible on its outer body such as cuts and scratches can and should be treated right away.

Beyond that, you need to take them to the veterinarian if the symptoms above persist.

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Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: When do Cavalier King Cahrles Spaniels get their full coat?

2. Fear or anxiety from past experiences or sensitivity

Another reason why a Cavalier may yelp when picked up is because of fear or anxiety.

This breed is known for being sensitive and can be easily scared by loud noises or sudden movements.

If your Cavalier has had a negative experience being picked up in the past, they may associate being picked up with fear and discomfort, leading to yelping when it happens.

Some common signs that a dog may be experiencing fear or anxiety include:

  1. Hiding: Dogs that are afraid may try to hide in a safe place, such as under a bed or behind a piece of furniture.
  2. Trembling: Dogs that are afraid or anxious may shake or tremble. This is a natural response to fear and can be a sign that the dog is feeling scared or threatened.
  3. Barking or growling: Dogs may bark or growl when they are afraid or anxious. This is a way for the dog to communicate their fear and try to protect themselves from the perceived threat.
  4. Panting: Dogs may pant when they are afraid or anxious. This is a way for the dog to calm themselves and regulate their breathing in a stressful situation.
  5. Changes in behavior: Dogs that are afraid or anxious may exhibit changes in their behavior. For example, they may become more clingy or cling less to their owners, or they may become more or less active than usual.

In such a situation, visiting a vet is probably not necessary.

I recommend that you spend more time with your dog and make it feel safe. Consistency and routine help out greatly in doing that.

Identify the sources that are causing this feeling in them and remove them completely.

If that is not possible, you may try to help your dog learn to associate good things with the things that they are afraid of.

For example, if your dog is afraid of other dogs, try gradually introducing them to other dogs in a controlled, safe environment, and reward them with treats and praise when they behave well.

Consider using natural remedies or medication to help your dog relax such as CBD oil or calming pheromone sprays.

And finally, be patient and consistent in your efforts to help your dog overcome their anxiety or fear. It may take time for them to feel comfortable and confident, but with your love and support, they can learn to cope with their fears and lead a happy and healthy life.

What is Syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia is a condition in which fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord of dogs.

These cavities, called syrinxes, can cause a range of symptoms depending on their size and location, including pain, weakness, and paralysis.

The condition is typically caused by the abnormal flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

In dogs, syringomyelia is most commonly seen in certain breeds, such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but it can affect any breed.

What are the symptoms of Syringomyelia in dogs?

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Scratching at the neck: Dogs with syringomyelia may scratch at their neck excessively as if they are trying to relieve discomfort or itching. This is almost always the first sign of trouble.
  • Pain: Dogs with syringomyelia may exhibit signs of pain, such as whining, panting, or shivering, especially when the neck is touched or the dog is picked up.
  • Weakness or paralysis: Syrinxes can put pressure on the spinal cord, leading to weakness or paralysis in the legs, particularly the hind legs. This can cause difficulty walking, running, or jumping.
  • Changes in behavior: A dog’s behavior might change drastically such as increased aggression or irritability, or a decrease in activity level or appetite.
  • Changes in the size or shape of the head: In some extreme and severe cases, syrinxes can cause the head to appear elongated or misshapen.

Doggy says, you might be interested to read this too: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Snoring Problems [Solutions]

How common is Syringomyelia in Cavaliers?

Unfortunately, the number is pretty high.

When the caudal fossa is malformed in a dog, this becomes known as a Chiari-like malformation (CM), and this is estimated to affect around 95% of all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

It is also believed to be hereditary, perpetuating across several generations.

CM eventually can lead to Syringomyelia, and the incidence rate is almost 50%.

A few other breeds that see this condition more often are Pekingese dogs, Maltese terriers, and miniature dachshunds.

How do you test for Syringomyelia in dogs?

MRI, CSF examination, and a combination of clinical signs are typically used to diagnose syringomyelia in dogs.

The most accurate technique for syringomyelia diagnosis is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can also be used to assess the severity of the condition and spot any concomitant abnormalities.

Treatment for syringomyelia

The treatment for syringomyelia in dogs will depend on the severity of the condition and the symptoms that the dog is experiencing.

These are the most widely used treatment options your vet will offer you:

  • Pain medication: Medication can help to manage pain and discomfort. This can include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain relievers.
  • Surgery: May be recommended to remove the syrinxes or to redirect the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in order to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.
  • Physical therapy: Rehabilitation and physical therapy can help to improve strength and mobility. This may include exercises to help maintain muscle tone, as well as assistive devices such as harnesses or carts to help dogs with mobility issues.

In some cases, a combination of medications, surgery, and physical therapy may be necessary.

Can Syringomyelia go away in dogs?

Some dogs are able to live with this condition throughout their lives but are likely to have some issues when it comes to their neck and back areas.

However, in most cases, syringomyelia is a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment to manage symptoms. If not treated, the condition might deteriorate in time to come.

Therefore, it is very important for dogs with syringomyelia to receive appropriate care from a veterinarian to help them manage their symptoms and maintain a good quality of life.

How to pick your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel up correctly?

We all love to pick our dogs up and cuddle them, especially with such dainty and cute breeds as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Learning how to do it correctly will reduce any discomfort on your dog and let them enjoy it as much as you do.

Gentle handling and lifting techniques

  1. Start by gently handling and lifting them when they are puppies, and gradually increase the amount of time they are held. This will help them become comfortable with being picked up and reduce their fear or anxiety.
  2. Make sure you have a good grip on your dog before lifting them. Place one hand under their chest, near their front legs, and the other hand under their hind end, near their back legs.
  3. Lift your dog by gently lifting them up and supporting its weight with your hands. Avoid jerking or swinging them around, as this can cause them to become unbalanced and injure themselves.
  4. When carrying your dog, keep them close to your body and try to distribute its weight evenly between your arms. This will help prevent strain on any one part of your body.
  5. If your dog is small or has limited mobility, you can use a pet carrier or sling to help support them while lifting and carrying them.
  6. Always be aware of your dog’s body language and pay attention to any signs of discomfort or distress. If your dog seems uncomfortable or is struggling, stop what you are doing and try to make them more comfortable before continuing.

Seeking professional help for fear or anxiety

If your dog is experiencing fear or anxiety, you might want to seek professional help from a veterinarian or a certified animal behaviorist (I personally prefer this option in such cases).

These professionals can help you determine the cause of your dog’s fear or anxiety and develop a treatment plan to help them overcome it.

Should you pick your Cavalier up if he yelps?

It is generally not a good idea to pick up a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel if they yelp or show any other signs of discomfort or distress.

Yelping is an obvious sign that the dog is experiencing pain or discomfort, and picking them up in this state can cause them further harm.

Instead, provide them with a comfortable and supportive environment, and consider using a pet carrier or sling to help support them if they need to be transported.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do Cavaliers like to be picked up?

It is very common for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels to enjoy being picked up and cuddled, as they are generally affectionate and loving dogs. Just be aware of how it is reacting, be respectful of your dog’s preferences, and handle them gently and carefully.

Are King Charles Cavaliers clingy?

Yes, King Charles Cavaliers are known for being very attached to their owners and can sometimes be clingy. In fact, it is common for King Charles Cavaliers to experience separation anxiety when separated from their human companions, resulting in destructive behaviors such as excessive barking and chewing.

In Conclusion: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Yelps When Being Picked Up?

In addition to addressing the underlying cause of yelping, it’s important to provide your Cavalier with plenty of love and attention.

This breed is known for its affectionate nature, and they thrive on human companionship.

Make sure to spend quality time with your Cavalier on a daily basis, including regular walks, playtime, and cuddles.

This will help them feel happy and secure, reducing their fear or anxiety.

Continue reading about other dog care tips on our site such as why is my puppy not eating and sleeping a lot, should I use puppy pads at night in a crate, why is my puppy shivering after a bath, and many more!

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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