I have spent hours removing quills from a dog’s mouth, lips, tongue and body.
If you take your dog for long walks in the country, or go camping, or have a cottage property, as an educated dog owner you should always pack a travel first aid kit. A pair of piers and Gravol as a mild sedation will be useful if your dog tangles with a porcupine.
If your dog is quilled it is an unfortunate fact that the most common place to be quilled is the face. Generally your dog will grab the porcupine with his mouth and the loose quills of the porcupine will lodge and penetrate into your dog’s skin and mouth. Porcupines don’t shoot their quills but these loosely attached barbs let go from their hair shafts if touched.
TREATMENT What to do? Treatment is a little harsh: you need to pull the quills out! And you need to pull them out quickly. You will need pliers to overcome the barbs.
You need to keep your dog quiet. Gravol may help to calm your dog. However, Gravol doesn’t work on every dog. Hopefully you have help available, for someone will need to hold the dog still while you remove the quills. Keeping the dog calm can be a difficult job since quills are sharp and painful and all your dog wants is to get them out. Movement will drive the quills deeper into your dog’s skin. It is crucial to stop your dog from rolling or pawing, pushing the quills deeper into your dog’s flesh. First stand your dog feel your dog for any quills on one side of his body, legs, neck. Remove those while the dog is still standing. Grab each quill as close to the dog’s skin as possible with the piers. Needle nose are the best. Pull with constant pressure and pulling it straight until the quill is pulled out. Most certainly there will be blood, but the quill must come out. This is a painful process. It’s a good idea to apply a topical antiseptic where the quills were pulled out to avoid infection. I haven’t myself used vinegar but I have heard if you pour vinegar on the quills it helps loosen them up. If you do try the vinegar keep vinegar away from you dog’s eyes.
Once you feel sure you have removed all the quills from that side lie your dog down on the side you just de-quilled and start working on his face. Start with his tongue. If your dog is starting to get fed up and is in pain from the quills he may bite you. If you remove the quills from the tongue and inside his mouth first then you can muzzle and work on removing the quills from the rest of the face and body. Quills embed rapidly so immediate action is needed to give your dog relief from the throbbing. Keep feeling for quills all over your dog and keep removing them. Because you can’t see any more doesn’t mean they are not there! Some dogs will learn to stay clear after the first encounter with a porcupine: other dogs get carried away and are unable to control themselves. We, as their owners, have the responsibility to take whatever action is necessary to help our dogs avoid porcupines. If your dog has quills in his eyes or deep in the throat you should get him to the closest Veterinary Clinic. Your dog’s vet will tranquilize him, making it far easier to remove the quills. Your veterinarian will also prescribe a round of antibiotics after all the quills have been removed.