Tales of the Dog and the Porcupine

Spring brings many welcome changes to Northern Vermont. Dogs love getting out after a long winter. Here are 3 dogs whose day took an unexpected turn and they ended up at the Hardwick Veterinary Clinic.

Dog #1

Dog #2

Dog #3

These 3 dogs all had a similar issue but it is hard to tell by looking which dog will be uncomplicated and which dog will take more time to remove all the quills.

Dog #3 actually was the easiest dog to treat. The quills were large, came out easily and completely after we sedated the dog. This case did not take too much time.

Dog #1 had many more quills. Here is a picture of his mouth. They were small quills and those are harder to get out. They can break. Often many quills in the mouth are broken by the time we get to them. Here is a picture of the inside of the mouth.

In the end, this dog did well. We got the quills out completely. But it took a while.

Dog #2 ended up being the most complicated. Just a few quills in the muzzle that came out well. But he had broken quills above one eye. He broke them off by pawing his face. We felt them through the fur and got out what we could but a few broken quills ended up migrating through the skin into the eye socket. They scratched his eye. We were able to pull out a couple more pieces when we rechecked him but his eye remained uncomfortable. He went to an ophthalmologist in Burlington and she was going to do surgery on his eyelid to try to remove the quills. She could not say if she would be able to get them as they were buried in the tissue around the eye. But after he was sedated, right before surgery, she looked again with a very bright light and magnification and pulled out a couple of quills! The owner decided to hold off on the surgery and see how his pet did. And the eye remained comfortable! No surgery needed. But initially looking at this dog, he did not seem to have many quills so we thought he would be easy. But it only takes one quill to cause a problem.

Porcupine quills are treated by sedating the pet and manually removing the quills without breaking them. Sometimes you cannot get all the quills. Especially if they are under the skin. These quills will have to work their way out. They usually do uneventfully. But a quill can migrate to an area that causes an issue for the pet.

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