What to do in case of a porcupine encounter?


       Your dog has made a face to face with a porcupine? You sometimes see one roaming in the area and this worries you? Here is some important information to know if this ever occurs with one of you pets.

       Contrary to popular belief, the porcupine does not hibernate! That means your dog can meet them all year long. In the spring however, the porcupine in search of food, will move further away from its shelter. In the fall, it is rather the season of love and its search for a companion will push it to explore further. Be on your guard! The porcupine is a peaceful animal that rarely attacks its enemies. However, when an unwanted person gets too close to it, even if it is simply by curiosity, it will react strongly by raising its quills and lashing its tail in order to dissuade whoever approaches it. A good fact to know: the porcupine cannot throw its thorns! In order for them to reach the skin and lodge there, there must be a contact between the porcupine and its adversary. Thus, the porcupine does not attack your dog, it defends himself of its insistent presence. If your dog comes home with its face covered with porcupine quills, keep this essential information in mind:

       The first, and probably the most important thing to know, is that you must not cut porcupine quills! Each hair is covered with small barbs that promote their migration into the skin and make their extraction difficult. Thus, if you cut the quill, it will migrate into the skin and we may be unable to recover it. It will then take incisions on each quill to remove them from the skin, making the procedure much longer and invasive for your pet.

       The quills should be removed completely by grasping them firmly at the base with a pair of pliers/tweezers. When the animal is very docile and has only a few quills lodged in its skin, it is sometimes possible to remove them without putting the animal under anesthesia, with or without sedation. It must be understood, however, that this is very painful for the animal. Moreover, removing the hair "cold" could even lead to the development of aggressive behavior on the part of your animal, whenever you try to manipulate the head, for example. We are sometimes told, "If it hurts him, he will not return to the porcupine the next time he sees one ...". Unfortunately, the canine brain does not work that way! The dog will not make the link between the pain felt when removing the quills and the interaction with the porcupine. There is a good chance, however, that it will makes the link between the pain and your fingers. For this reason it is best to do this procedure under general anesthesia at your vet. The quills can then all be removed without pain and the entire surface of its body will be palpated to ensure that no quill is forgotten. Difficult areas such as the tongue, the inside of the mouth and the throat will also be more easily accessible in the sleeping animal.

There you go! We hope that your four-legged companion will not make an unwanted encounter, but if so, contact your veterinarian before taking any action that may complicate the recovery of your pet. And enjoy the summer!