Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Face Full Of Porcupine Quills

Porcupine Quill Removal
This happened to my Irish Setter while on a camping trip.

I hear alot of barking and go to see what all the fuss is about. My Irish Setter has a Porcupine trapped.

Upon further obsevation Inotice my dog has a face full of quills.I lead my dog to camp and start the process of pulling quills out with my pliers.

After removing the quills I turn my dog loose.

The next thing I know is she has went back after the porcupine and her face is full of quills once more.

This time her face is sore and I have a hard time of removing the quills.I also tie her up until the porcupine leaves the area.

Backcountry camping with your canine best friend can be a blast, there's no less argumentative companion on the planet and you can bet that she appreciates getting out into the wilderness even more than you do.

Most of the time camping with your warm furry friend is a blissful experience but the wilderness offers surprises, and porcupines are some of the worst surprises you can encounter.

If you've ever been unfortunate enough to hear the yelp of a dog that's received a snout full of porcupine quills you know that it's probably even more devastating for you, the human, than your poor pierced pooch.

Some dogs will only do it once, but for others, the scent of quilled prey is irresistible. Regardless of whether or not your dog has ever encountered a porky, you will want to be prepared in case it does happen. It's bad enough to have that helpless feeling while you rush your dog to the vet, but in the middle of nowhere you may be his only hope.

A pair of pliers is your best hope for removing porcupine quills. Fortunately most outdoorsy types usually carry a Leatherman or similar multi-tool that contains a decent pair of pliers in its arsenal. If you don't have one and you spend a lot of time in the woods with your dog, I'd really suggest getting one. It could save you and your furry friend a lot of hurt.

Removing porcupine quills isn't rocket science, but it certainly requires some good doggie psychology. In the vet's office, anesthesia is often used to calm the animal while the quills are pulled. You probably don't have that luxury in the woods so you have to maintain calm in your pet as best as you possibly can.

Covering his eyes as you approach his face with the pliers can be helpful - some animals will panic when they see a strange implement coming for their face. Dogs pick up on their human's emotions quite readily so for your dog's sake, as well as your own, it's important to stay calm while you try to remove the quills. Reassure your dog frequently and give him breaks in between removals - the less stress he has to endure while you remove the prickly intrusions the better.

The technique of quill removal is straightforward. The idea that you should clip the end of the quill to let out pressure is a myth - quills are not pressurized.

Quills do not have bars on their ends; rather they are lined with small scales. These scales make removal difficult but do not cause the same difficulties that a barb would. When removing the quills, grasp them as close to the skin as possible and pull them straight out. If you can grasp more than one at a time, that's even better. Make sure that you check inside your dog's mouth and nose for quills,

as well as along his chest and abdomen. Especially with long haired dogs quills can be quite difficult to spot. Left in place, quills can cause infection or in rare cases, migrate further into your dog's skin. It is important to have him checked thoroughly by a vet as soon as possible after his incident. Most dogs recover rapidly once they've been freed of their needley irritants.

The last time my dog had it out with a porcupine he was back to normal an hour after returning home from the vet. Although your dog may seem Ok, be sure to monitor him closely for a few days after the attack, looking for swelling or bits of quills that may have escaped removal.

You may take your dog into the woods as the perfect companion and confident, but don't forget he's still a dog. You owe him to pack as thoughtfully as you‘d pack for yourself. A pair of pliers is a small item to pack but when your dog returns whimpering to your side with a face full of piercings, that pair of pliers will seem like the most important thing you ever packed.


A porcupine is any of 27 [[species]] of [[rodent]] belonging to the families '''[[Erethizontidae]]''' or '''[[Hystricidae]].''' All defend themselves with modified hair sharp spines.

Porcupines vary in size considerably: [[Rothschild's Porcupine]] of [[South America]] weighs less than a kilogram; the [[African Porcupine]] can grow to well over 20 kg.

The two families of porcupines are quite different and although both belong to the [[Hystricognathi]] branch of the vast order [[Rodent]]ia, they are not closely related..

The eleven '''[[Old World porcupine]]s''' are almost exclusively terrestrial, tend to be fairly large, and have quills that are grouped in clusters. They separated from the other [[hystricognath]]s about 30 million years ago, much earlier than the New World porcupines. [[Image:Brush tailed porcupine Berlin Zoo.jpg|left|thumb|Old World porcupine]]

The twelve '''[[New World porcupine]]s''' are mostly smaller (although the [[North American Porcupine]] reaches about 85 cm in length and 18 kilograms), have their quills attached singly rather than grouped in clusters, and are excellent climbers, spending much of their time in trees. The New World porcupines evolved their spines independently (through [[convergent evolution]]) and are more closely related to several other families of rodent than they are to the Old World porcupines.