It's fall, which means porcupines are a little more active than the rest of the year as they prepare for the upcoming winter. While we all try our best to keep our pets away from these spikey critters, inevitably the occasional altercation happens. Unfortunately, the porcupine almost always comes out on top.
Quills are quite painful to remove. We recommend bringing your pet in for sedation and a thorough exam (not only of the skin, but in the back of the mouth and such as well!) to ensure that all possible quills are pulled out in a controlled manner. Pain medication and antibiotics are also important as those sharp spines are not clean!
Here's a few things you should take note of when dealing with your pet following a porcupine quil incident.
DON'T CUT THE QUILLS. It is a common myth that cutting the quills short makes them hurt less or easier to pull out. On the contrary, it makes pulling them out harder.
STOP PAWING AT THE FACE. Try to stop your pet from pawing at the quills in its face. This can cause the quills to be lodged deeper and cause further trauma or irritation.
HAVE THEM EXAMINED AND PULLED UNDER SEDATION. It is important to have your pet examined and the quills pulled in a timely manner to evaluate any potential damage, as well as prevent the quills from migrating and causing further damage. Sedation and pain control is important not only for your pet, but for your safety as well since pulling quills is quite painful. Sedation is also important in order to allow a thorough exam not only on the skin, but also in the mouth. Antibiotics are recommended to prevent infection as well, since those quills are far from clean.
MONITOR your pet even after the initial incident. Some quills may be buried so deep that we cannot feel them externally. These quills can cause further issues. Most quills that are missed work their way out or abscess, and can then be removed or the abscess lanced. Some quills however, can migrate internally, and potentially cause organ damage or even death if they hit the heart for example. Whilst uncommon, it is important to have your pet examined initially in order to ensure that all possible quills are removed as soon as possible to minimize these risks. Even after this, continue monitoring for any further quills, swelling, or lethargy and have your pet rechecked should you notice any of these.