Porcupines and their quills – not a good outcome for dogs. There is something about a dog’s interest in going after porcupines that just can’t quite be explained. Especially if the dog has had a face full of quills in the past. Far too often we see owners call us in a state of panic because their dog has got into porcupine quills. Quills are (as many of you have seen yourselves), very uncomfortable for a dog. Today, I plan to shed some light on how to address quills in your dog and debunk a few myths when it comes to treating your pet for them.

Porcupine’s are generally docile, nocturnal creatures that thrive on greeneries. Their quills are only meant for defense purposes and they cannot shoot their quills as a potential threat contrary to popular belief. They can, however, swing their tails like a club to defend themselves if needed. Once a dog has made an aggressive introduction with the porcupine, they usually are left with quills commonly over their muzzle, mouth, cheeks, and forelimbs. 

Another myth people state is that cutting the quills will help deflate them which makes them easier to remove. The quills of a porcupine are solid and cutting them can lead to the remaining tips splintering and making it more difficult to extract. It’s better to remove the quills as a whole so no smaller parts of the quill burrow deeper into the underlying tissue and cause problems down the line.

The best treatment for quill removal is to bring the dog to the vet so that we may extract the quills. Many dogs do not like sitting still for quill removal so they may need to be sedated for their safety. Unfortunately, some quills may already be deep in the tissue and unable to extract by the time the pet comes in to have them extracted. These quills may either be rejected by the body and abscess out or possibly be walled off with granulation tissue and stay embedded.  If an abscess should form then we can extract the burrowed quill that is now surfacing. At the end of the day, once the quills are all removed, the most important question to ask is did my dog learn their lesson? Well the answer to that is a confident no. That leaves us with a score of Porcupine: 1 and Dog: 0.