Fido’s face is full of needles, and it’s not because he spent the afternoon with an acupuncturist. If curiosity of a spiky-looking creature got the best of your canine during a hike, it’s likely he got served with a painful batch of porcupine quills in return. Now he’s wailing like a banshee. You want to help him, but you aren’t sure what to do. Pull them out yourself? Call the vet? The answer depends on just how close to the source your pooch managed to get. If he has a few quills lodged in a paw, you may be able to remove them yourself. But if your pup looks like pincushion after a porcupine attack, get him to the vet pronto.
A quick note on porcupine quills: If your furry boy lost a bout in dog vs. porcupine, do not wait for the quills to work themselves out of his skin on their own. They won’t. Porcupine quills are barbed, so two things may happen. First, your confused pup is likely to break them off as he tries to paw them out himself. This ultimately makes the quills harder to remove and may also result in abscessing. Second, since quills are designed to travel one way only, they tend to bury themselves deeper with time, and eventually they can even soften and migrate far enough to puncture an internal organ. Translation? They should be removed as soon as possible. Here’s how to determine whether you can do the job, or whether more experienced hands should take over.
Pluck Your Dog: Porcupine Quills Removed at Home
If your poor pup has a half dozen or so quills in his snout, chest, or paws, go ahead and try to remove them yourself—as long as he’s calm enough for you to approach him. Before you begin, put on a pair of heavy work gloves or gardening gloves to protect yourself from both the quills and an inadvertent bite from your frightened pooch. Get a secure hold on him so that, if you’re dealing with a flinchy dog, quills won’t crack off as you’re trying to remove them. Then, with needle-nose pliers, grasp the quill as close to his skin as you can and steadily pull the quill straight out, reversing the direction in which it entered the skin. Don’t wiggle the quill because the barbs could catch in the skin or the quill could break off.