Did your dog try to mess with a porcupine? If so, the spiky animal will surely leave a souvenir: its quills. This prickly problem requires immediate veterinary attention to ensure that the quills won’t dig deeper into the skin. To help you tackle this situation, we discussed here how to remove porcupine quills from dogs safely.
Porcupines and dogs
Porcupines are a type of rodent with a spike-like covering around their bodies. They are often found in North America and are nocturnal in nature. With this, dogs that are allowed to wander off at night are likely to encounter a porcupine and its nasty quills.
An average porcupine has around 30,000 quills throughout its body. When threatened or touched, the quills will easily detach from the porcupine’s skin. Contrary to misconceptions, this animal doesn’t have the ability to shoot its quills from a distance; it’s always upon contact.
So how do the quills bury on your dog’s skin? Well, each quill has barbs that are smooth until the quill enters the skin. If you try to pull the quill, the barb will spread out with a backward movement, making it difficult to remove. It’s quite similar to how a spearfishing arrow works.
Moreover, if you let your dog dumpster dive, it will have a higher risk of encountering a porcupine. Also, curious canines, especially those with strong hunting instincts are likely to end up with quills.
How to remove porcupine quills from dogs
Take note that quill removal can never be done at home. You simply can’t pull the quills out and call it a day. If you do so, you’re risking permanent tissue damage on your dog, much so if it acquired dozens of quills at once.
Instead, here’s what you need to do:
🐶Minimize your dog’s movement
Your main goal should be to minimize your dog’s movement. This is to prevent the quill from piercing deeper into your dog’s flesh.
Immobilizing your dog is very crucial, especially if the quills are concentrated on very sensitive areas like the face and chest. Remember that porcupine quills move inward and a little pressure can stick it further into your pet’s body
For this, you can try luring your dog into a crate. Aside from limiting its movements, this will also allow you to bring the canine to the vet safely.
In case your dog doesn’t like to enter the crate yet, make sure that you place it in a separate room first. Call the veterinarian immediately and he or she will provide instructions on how to transport the pooch.
🐶Don’t remove the quills on your own
You should never try to remove the porcupine quills on your dog at home. This isn’t just a basic case of thin sticks stuck on your dog’s flesh. There are parts at the tip of the quill, which can cause more damage if not removed properly.
First of all, porcupine quills can migrate around your dog’s body if the barbs aren’t removed well. While rare, some cases end up in organ damage and even death.
Aside from that, your dog requires deep sedation before the removal of the quills. It’s impossible to remove the quills while your dog is awake due to its agonizing pain.
If you try to pull the quills on your own, your dog will likely fight back. This will result in the quills digging deeper into the flesh.
Also, never cut the quill as other pet owners mistakenly do. When you cut it, you’re just making the quill too short and basically harder to remove using hemostats or pliers at the vet.
Lastly, remember that due to the structure of porcupine quills, they will not pop out on their own. If there’s any movement that could occur, it would be that the quill will get stuck further.
🐶Bring the dog to the vet
At the clinic, the veterinarian will conduct a quick physical examination to see the extent of the problem. After that, your canine will be placed under general anesthesia. Also, quills need to be removed as soon as possible to prevent the formation of abscesses.
Once your dog is knocked down, the vet will map out the location of the quills. This includes checking your dog’s body from head to toe.
Next, the vet will use a plier or a tool that will hold the quill steadily while being pulled. In some cases, the vet may need to create a small incision to remove the quills properly.
However, if at least one quill pierced through your dog’s eye, emergency surgery might be needed. This is to save your dog’s vision and prevent the damage from worsening.
After successfully removing all the quills, the vet may prescribe antibiotics and pain medications to help with your pet’s recovery.
🐶Ask about necessary follow-up visits
Many cases of quill removal will need a follow-up visit. This is to ensure that there are no infections or quill migration that’s been happening.
In addition, the vet will ask you to monitor your pet for the next few days to see if there will be any adverse reactions or potential complications.
If the quills are removed right away and by a licensed vet, most affected dogs will realize recovery within days. Make sure that you follow the vet’s orders to achieve this.
How to protect your dog from porcupines
Take note that repeat encounters are very common between dogs and porcupines. This is much so if your place is notorious for a large population of these spiky rodents.
To ensure that your pooch won’t have another brush with a porcupine, here’s what you need to do:
🐶Avoid walking your dog at night
If your dog has encountered a porcupine during a night walk, consider rescheduling it earlier in the day. Porcupines are nocturnal, so going out during their active hours isn’t the safest move for your pet.
If you wish to drain your dog’s energy before dinner, walk it before sunset. You can also exercise your dog indoors through playtime instead of going out.
🐶Seal your garbage bins
Next, you should cover your garbage bin at all times. Like raccoons, porcupines are also notorious dumpster divers.
An open garbage bin invites these spiky rodents into your property. And if your dog is also enticed by the smell, the encounter may end up in the vet’s clinic.
🐶Don’t let your dog roam the yard at night
Even if your yard is fenced, it’s not a good idea to let your dog roam alone in your yard at night. It’s best to monitor your dog, so you can call it back once you spot a porcupine.
When taking your dog in the yard at night, you should keep it leashed. You should do this even when taking the pooch for its last potty break of the day. That way, you can retrieve the pooch immediately should a porcupine come charging your way.
🐶Install porcupine deterrents
If your property is becoming a porcupine hangout place at night, you should start installing deterrents. Fence up and block the bottom area with wire, so porcupines can’t squeeze their way through.
Aside from that, consider applying wood preservatives on your fence and other wooden structures. This chemical is said to drive away spiky rodents.
If this didn’t work, the best solution is a porcupine repellent. These are non-toxic substances that mimic the smell of porcupine predators like bears, foxes, lynxes, and cougars. It’s often sold in pellet form.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What happens if porcupine quills aren’t removed in dogs?
A: If not removed, porcupine quills could migrate inside your dog’s body organs. Also, it may cause abscesses and secondary infections. This is why you should bring your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you discover that it’s been in contact with a porcupine.
Q: Can dogs acquire rabies infection from porcupine quills?
A: Porcupine quills don’t transmit rabies, so it’s impossible for your unvaccinated dog to acquire the infection that way. However, if your dog also has wound bites from a porcupine, that’s the time you should be concerned. But if your doggo is fully vaccinated against rabies, your pet will unlikely be affected.
Q: Can you leave porcupine quills on a dog for long?
A: Porcupine quills should be removed from your dog within 24 hours. Leaving it longer than that increases the risk of infection and quill migration. Also, remember that only a licensed veterinarian should remove the quills from your pet.
Q: How much will it cost to remove porcupine quills from my dog?
A: Removal of porcupine quills on a dog will cost around $300 on average. However, worst cases that require surgery will definitely cost more. It all depends on the severity of your dog’s case and the rates of your pet’s veterinarian.
Knowing how to remove porcupine quills from dogs lies in the hands of a licensed veterinarian. It’s never advisable to do it on your own due to the risk of tissue damage and quill migration.
As much as you can save some money by doing home remedies, it will catch up on you once your dog is suffering from infections. In the end, it’s best to trust a professional.