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Porcupine Quills

Posted by lhvs on March 25, 2014

Prickling Porcupines

   As spring is arriving porcupines are starting to wander further and further from their winter homes. While they are out about they may notice a nosey pet, whom in return may notice this silly looking "kitty". Little does your pet know that this "kitty" is NO FUN to play with. These encounters ALWAYS end up with a very mad porcupine and a very sore pet many times in need of an emergency veterinary visit.

   Porcupines have up to 30,000 quills on their body. These black and white hollow quills have tiny one way barbs on the shaft of the quill. These allow the quill to easily penetrate the skin of a predator but make it difficult to be pulled out. Quills are the slow moving porcupines one and only defense, and why run?, it's the best defense out there!

 
 
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   So what is the best plan of action once your pet has been too nosey and has quills?

  • First, try to minimize movement as much as possible. Once your pet has quills their first instinct is to try to remove them. Pawing and rubbing at the quills will only make the situation worse. 
  • Second, CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN. Sedating your pet is the easiest and least painful for your pet and yourself. 

DO NOT cut quills!! This WILL NOT help remove the quills. In fact, it only makes removing the quills more difficult. 

Unfortunately, most pets are not one time offenders with porcupines. They do not learn from this painful encounter. Our clinic has seen the same dog 9 times for porcupine quills! Yes, I said 9 times! So, the best way to prevent your pets from playing with the silly looking kitty is to supervise outdoor activity closely and keep your dogs on a leash. 

Also, keep your pet's vaccines current, porcupines can carry the rabies virus.

Pictures from mongabay.com (porcupine) and vetmedicine.about.com (porcupine quills)

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