Animal Care 101: Veterinarian Tips

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What To Do When Your Dog's Been Quilled By A Porcupine

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Your dog may enjoy spending time roaming your large property, barking at smaller animals and rolling in interesting smells. However, a rural setting can go from canine paradise to purgatory very quickly when our dog encounters porcupine. Spines can often sink in deep, usually in your dog's face, causing bleeding and swelling.

If you see your dog with several prickles and don't know what to do, this guide can help you give your dog the care they'll need to get better. 

1. Don't remove the spines yourself. 

You might feel like immediately jumping in to help your dog by removing the spines. The sheer quantity of quills from a bad attack will cause a large amount of pain. Remove them is even more painful, especially in nerve sensitive areas like inside the mouth. Some quills can be close to the eyes, and pulling them without expertise can result in permanent vision damage. 

Finally, the pain is dangerous for your dog and for you. Dogs can get violent and hard to hold still as you try to remove quills. They could attempt to bite you or jerk away as you try to remove a quill. Quills are brittle and they can break off under the skin, getting lost in the swelling and allowing them to migrate to other parts of the body and making them even more challenging and emergent to remove. 

Your dog should be able to have the operation in a sterile environment with plenty of antiseptics to help stave off an infection that can come from so many wounds. Also, since some quills are barbed, pulling them might require minor incisions to help reduce the tearing of the flesh.  

2. Call your vet.

As you might have realized, you will need a vet's help to remove the spines. Most vet clinics are closed during porcupine attacks because dogs are most likely to be struck in the summer or early fall at dawn or at dusk because porcupines are most active at night. If your normal vet office is not open, it's still important to go to a 24-hour emergency vet for spine removal because an infection is likely. 

3. Prevent future attacks.

Some dogs do not learn their lesson when it comes to messing with porcupines. Try to keep your dog in sight during dawn and dusk hours, and allow your dog to sleep indoors to prevent nighttime porcupine prowling. You can also teach your dog off leash commands to prevent any quilling during evening walks or explorations. For example, teaching a dog to obey "Stop," or "Leave it," can help to curb dangerous curiosity. 

To learn more, contact a veterinary clinic like Apple Valley Animal Hospital