Removing Porcupine Quills From Dogs: Do’s and Don’ts

Porcupines can be your pooch’s worst enemy. If you live in a rural area or even in a semi-urban, porcupine-infested neighborhood, you need to be careful about allowing your dog to wander free. Your dog might just be trying to make a new friend or simply being curious, but these prickly creatures won’t think twice before using their quills to protect themselves.

The quills cause extreme pain and discomfort, and removing them from an agitated dog is a significant challenge. So here’s a comprehensive guide to removing porcupine quills from dogs.

Tips On Removing Porcupine Quills From Dogs

When you attempt to remove porcupine quills from your dog yourself, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. Not being a professional veterinarian, you need to learn the right techniques for quill removal to avoid making the situation worse. So here are 5 tips that’ll help you remove porcupine quills from your dog easily.

Removing Porcupine Quills From Dogs

1. Keep Your Kit Ready

Before you begin, you need to make a list of everything you’ll need during the process and keep it within reach. You’ll need needle-nose pliers to pull out the quills, an antiseptic cream to avoid infection, treats for distraction, and local anesthetic creams to reduce the pain.

If the quills aren’t stuck in your dog’s mouth, you should also consider using a muzzle. Some dogs tend to get a little agitated due to the pain and discomfort and can bite or attack..

2. Find the Hidden Quills

When your dog comes back with countless quills stuck on its body, not all of them will be visible to the naked eye. Some tend to blend very well with fur, making it harder for you to spot them. In this case, you need to feel for the quills with your hand. You might end up getting poked in the process, of course, so remember to wash your hands well and immediately tend to your own wounds.

In order to find the quills, lay your dog down as flat as possible and gently move your hand across its entire body, including the insides of the paws, and its nose. If your dog is calm enough to cooperate, you should also check the mouth and jaw for hidden quills. These quills are extremely painful and uncomfortable, and until all of them have been pulled out, your dog will continue to suffer.

3. Prepare a Distraction

Dogs with quills stuck in their skin will often be restless and may not let you touch them, fearing even more pain. That’s why you need a distraction to hold them still while you work on the quills. Ideally, you should have someone the dog knows and likes assist you by petting and talking soothingly to them while you pull out the quills. Using a favorite treat can also help distract the dog’s attention and control their aggressive behavior.

If your dog becomes agitated every time it sees you approach with the pliers, you should try covering its eyes to avoid scaring it unnecessarily. You should also let the dog sniff and play with the pliers for a while so that it no longer remains an alien, scary object to them.

4. Be As Quick As Possible

Pulling out quills is a painful process, and stalling will make it even less bearable. You should hold the quills with the pliers as close to the base as possible and pull it out in one swift stroke. The faster you do it, the better for your dog. Also, when you pull the quill out faster, the chances of your dog jumping and breaking the quill will be reduced.

To remove broken quills, you’ll need to grab a pair of sanitized tweezers and dig deeper into the skin to pull them out, which will be even more traumatic for the dog, unfortunately.

5. Have Someone to Help You

Experienced dog parents might be proficient enough to manage this entire process single-handedly. However, if you aren’t a pro, then you should definitely get someone to help you. Having a second pair of hands to help you will make the process go faster and give you more control over the dog.

What You Should Do After Removing the Quills

Your job doesn’t end with pulling out the quills. Once you are done with that, make sure you clean the wounds and treat each one of them with an antiseptic cream to avoid secondary infection.

You also need to watch for swelling or other signs of infection over the next few weeks. Quills can transfer bacteria carried by porcupines to your dog and cause a body-wide infection. If you see anything unusual, immediately consult a vet.

Sometimes, porcupines carry rabies which can be transmitted to your dog through quills laced with the creature’s bodily fluids. The disease can also be transmitted through porcupine bites which can be pretty difficult to notice among all the injuries left by the quills. Hence, no matter where you live, your dog should always be up-to-date on its rabies vaccination.

Lastly, cuddle your dog and pet them as much as you can. Quill injury episodes are very traumatic and scary for them. Having you by their side will ease the physical and emotional pain and promote a faster recovery.

Read More: 5 Backyard Dog Dangers That You Haven’t Thought About

When You Should Consider Visiting the Vet

No matter how experienced you are, your skills are certainly not a replacement for professional medical care. In a minor case, the owner can get rid of the quills, but only a professional vet can treat certain situations. Here are four types of quill injury cases for which veterinary clinics are the only viable option.

1. Higher Number of Quills

If the number of quills exceeds 8 or if there are broken pieces stuck inside, you should take the matter to a trained expert. If these quills aren’t pulled out correctly, you run the risk of hurting your dog even more or causing tissue damage. Also, your dog will need a higher dose of anesthesia in this case, which should be only administered by a vet.

2. When the Quills are Closer to Its Eyes

When it comes to sensitive areas like eyes, you shouldn’t take any chances. Mishandling the process can lead to a fatal eye injury that can render your dog blind. Hence, to avoid potential complications, you should consult a vet for the quill removal process.

3. Unmanageable Temperament

Sometimes when a dog is in excruciating pain, it can turn very violent and make it impossible for you to remove the quills on your own. In this case, you should take it to the local vet. Depending on the severity of the injury, the vet might administer general anesthesia to your dog to reduce the pain and make the experience less traumatic.

4. If the Dog Has Trouble Breathing or Loses Consciousness

If there’s even the slightest sign of impaired breathing or fading consciousness, you should seek veterinary care as soon as possible to avoid severe complications. Generally, porcupine quills aren’t long enough to pierce through your dog’s tissues and injure internal organs. However, these symptoms suggest a problem affecting the vital organs and shouldn’t be taken lightly or treated with home remedies.

How to Prevent Quill Injury

Mastering the porcupine quill removal process is essential. However, your focus should be on preventing incidents of quill injury in the first place. You need to be a little more cautious to ensure your dog doesn’t encounter porcupines.

1. Keep Your Dogs Indoors at Night

Porcupines are nocturnal animals. They hunt at night and mostly sleep through the day. Although spotting a porcupine during the day isn’t impossible, the chances are slim. Hence, don’t allow your dog to roam around at night. If it’s a guard dog, make sure it stays within your property’s boundaries.

2. Be Alert

When your dog comes across another creature, it’s likely to let you know through a bark. If your dog suddenly starts barking, you should get up and find out why. If you can prevent interaction with a porcupine, you’ll be able to save your dog from a lot of pain and misery.

3. Keep Porcupines Off Your Property

You can’t control these prickly critters in the wild, but you should certainly call the animal control department for help if they are infesting your property. Other ways to halt a porcupine infestation include fences and traps.


Dogs love playing outside, and sometimes they wander too far on their daily adventures. As a dog owner, you always need to be prepared for unforeseen injuries like these and have a first aid kit ready for emergencies. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your dog and track its movements, especially when living in the countryside, to avoid the risk of quill injury.

When it comes to porcupine quills, there’s no way to make it easy for your dog. However, knowing the right technique for removing porcupine quills from dogs and taking adequate precautions can certainly prevent more damage.

And as always, Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our bellies often!

Love you guys,


P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.


This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.

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