Tis the season when these cute little critters are starting to emerge again! The infamous porcupine can cause an emergency trip for your dog to the vet clinic.
Letting a dog be a dog seems lie a great way to take a walk. With nose to the ground, the dog senses things about the world that humans with our weaker sense of smell will never fully understand. Unfortunately, nose to the ground puts the mouth there too, and can lead to unfortunate run-ins.
What to do? If there are only a few quills, and you’re brave, you can try pulling them out. Surprisingly, some dogs will let you. You will need to grab the quill as close to the dog’s skin as possible and pull straight out. DO NOT cut the quill! Contrary to an old wives’ tale out there, they are not filled with air and do not get thinner when cut. Cutting them can actually make it harder to remove them because they are difficult to pull out and can disappear under the skin.
If there are too many quills and your dog won’t sit still you’ll need to call your veterinarian. She will either use sedation or a general anesthetic (depending on the number of quills) in order to pull them out. Once the quills have been removed you will need to monitor for swellings/abscesses for the next few weeks in case not all of the quills were still external when your vet was operating.
So, think hard before you let your dog off-leash in the coulees this spring and make sure they have an excellent re-call response in the face of a tempting situation.