One of the most frequent emergencies Pet Kare Doctors routinely address is porcupine quillings. Usually dogs learn to give them space after only one or two minor encounters with these seriously pointy residents of the Yampa Valley.
What to do if your dog or cat is quilled:
- Call us before pulling the quills. Even in the most minor quillings, problems can occur and we should, at a minimum, discuss with you the locations of the quills, numbers, and sizes before coming up with a strategy.
- For severe quillings: Keep the animal still and calm, try to get them to the hospital as soon as possible. Quills can migrate and cause serious problems, especially ones on the chest or abdomen.
- Very frequently, owners attempt and are successful in pulling out some of the quills but eventually the process becomes too painful for the pet to allow all of the quills to be pulled and they end up having to come in for sedation and removal of the rest of the quills. The process of trying to remove quills from a painful and fully awake pet is usually traumatic to both pet and owner so we recommend bringing them in to be sedated for the process.
Common misconceptions about porcupine quills
Myth: A porcupine can “shoot” its quills.
Truth: the quills pointed ends stick to the offending animal strongly when they attempt to sniff or bite the porcupine.
Myth: You must cut the ends off, because they’ll come out easier.
Truth: there is no “vacuum” inside, if you cut the ends off, they’re more likely to go in deeper or be difficult to remove.
Myth: The quills tips are barbed.
Truth: Viewed under scanning electron microscope we can see that they are layered like shingles.