This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.
You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.
Lifting up puppies and kittens properly
The correct way to lift up a small puppy or kitten is to place one hand under the chest (the sternum or breast bone) and the other hand (or arm if it is a large dog) should be placed under, or wrapped around, the hind legs. The weight is therefore taken evenly by the hind legs and chest. In this position the youngster will not be able to wriggle away easily because you will have good control of the body and hind legs.
Some owners pick their puppies or kittens up by the loose skin folds on the scruff of the neck with one hand, placing the other hand under the chest. This method puts all the weight bearing on the chest because the hind legs dangle down, and is not recommended for heavy animals by the author.
For larger puppies a useful method is to approach the pup from the side, place one arm around the front of the chest and under the neck, and the other arm is placed around and under the hind legs, so the pup is held in the arms.
Puppies and kittens should not be picked up by placing a hand under the soft part of their belly, because this can cause discomfort, puts pressure on internal organs, may make them vomit (especially just after eating) and, if they struggle, they can fall forwards away from the owner.
When lifting heavy puppies owners should remember to keep their own backs straight, bend at the knees to get down and pick them up. Otherwise back injuries may result.
Updated October 2013