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Porcupine Quills & Your Pet

Every year we see countless cases of dogs that have been quilled by porcupines. Other animals can also become a porcupine’s victim if they stick their nose in the wrong place, but dogs are by far the most commonly quilled due to their aggressively inquisitive personalities. Porcupines are nocturnal animals and are busiest during the warmer months, so the occasional incident is almost inevitable, but how you handle the incident can have a significant impact on your animal’s comfort and welfare

Common Misconceptions

Too many pet owners underestimate the seriousness of being quilled. In addition to the obvious discomfort they cause, embedded quills can also lead to blindness and lameness depending on their location, and once embedded they can migrate and cause fatal damage to organs. Because of this danger and the usual need for anesthetic, under no circumstances should a pet owner attempt to remove the quills on their own. In addition, trimming the quills before seeing a vet does not make them easier to remove or alleviate the animal’s pain—it can actually cause further complications.

What To Do

  • If a porcupine has quilled one of your animals, contact your veterinarian immediately and bring the animal in to have the quills removed.
  • Follow all of your veterinarian’s instructions regarding recovery including their prescribed use of antibiotics and painkillers.
  • Do not try to trim or remove the quills yourself, as this can easily lead to further unnecessary damage.
  • Though the animal might be in distress, do not attempt to put a muzzle or harness over any quills.

Factors Affecting Treatment Regime

  • Whether or not the animal is a candidate for sedation or general anesthesia
  • If the quills need to be pulled out versus being trimmed
  • Ensuring proper removal of quills to prevent them from migrating deeper into the body 
There are many factors to account for when dealing with an animal that has been quilled. We strongly recommend talking to your veterinarian.