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Porcupine Quills and Your Dog

Porcupine quills? In the event that your pet ever has the misfortune to encounter a porcupine, and ends up with a few quills, here is a brief article offering information on what you can expect and what needs to be done treatment wise.


Quills of the porcupine. General Information: Porcupine quills can penetrate any area of an animal. They have backward-pointing barbs that hold them firmly in place and make them difficult to remove.

If not removed promptly, quills can move further into the skin, even becoming buried in the skin.

Toxic Dose

Not applicable


Quills will be embedded, usually in the mouth and front paws. The animal generally tries to paw at his face in an attempt to remove the quills, which are very painful. This only results in burying the quills deeper, and/or breaking them off, which makes them harder to remove.

Dalmatian in grass

Immediate Action for Porcupine Quills Stop the dog from pawing his face. If your pet escaped with only a few external (outside the mouth) quills, you may be able to remove them yourself. First restrain your pet, then, using hemostats or pliers, grab a quill as close to the skin as possible and steadily pull the quill out.

Be sure to examine your pet's entire body feeling for hidden quills. Since they can range in length from one-half inch to four inches, they may not all be readily visible. If your pet has more than several quills, quills in the mouth, or one has broken off under the skin, seek veterinary attention immediately. It is absolutely necessary that all quills be removed.

Veterinary Care

General treatment: Your veterinarian may give your pet an anesthetic (especially for quills in the mouth or throat) to aid in removing the quills.

Supportive treatment: An antihistamine may be given to ward off an allergic skin reaction and swelling. A mild pain reliever may be prescribed.

Specific treatment

Not applicable

Prognosis Good. However, if quills are not removed, they can travel through the body and cause injury to internal organs. For more information on this subject, contact your veterinarian.

By: Tiffany Cain, BS Zoologist, Veterinary Services Department,
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.

Article reprinted with permission of:

Owned & Operated by Practicing Veterinarians

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"They say a reasonable amount 'o fleas is good fer a dog -- keeps him from broodin' over bein' a dog, mebbe." - Edward Westcott