How to Remove Porcupine Quills From a Pet Dog

Dogs are naturally curious and prone to investigating some things that they should not. Typically a dog will encounter a porcupine, once, or twice, before it learns to stay away. By then it has had a few porcupine quills stuck into its face or body. Learn how to remove porcupine quills.


Porcupines quills are covered in something that would look like tiny fish scales, they are scaled in such away they will not fall out on their own, but rather would work their way deeper into the animal stuck with the quill. Often the quill hits bone and becomes a painful problem, when only soft tissue is encountered, the quill sometimes will work its way through the dog and out the other side. When this occurs it will be months later that a bump is felt on the dog where the quill is trying to come out.

photo source - this dogs second encounter with a porcupine!

The scales make removing the quill somewhat tricky, and more painful. Some folks will suggest cutting the quill short, allowing the part in the dog to continue to pass through the dog, however this is not the best option, and not worth the risks. In fact unless only a tiny portion is remaining in the dog, it is always best to remove the quill.

If the dog has only a few quills and they are easily visible you can remove the quills yourself. Have a friend hold the dog for safety purposes, ideally the dogs eyes should be covered and it should be kept calm. One can use needled nosed pliers to grab the quills directly and pull them out being careful to pull at the same angle as the quill. Grip the quill as close to the skin as possible to prevent it breaking off.

When there are several quills stuck close together you may try pulling more than one out at once.

Do not continue for long periods of time, rather after removing several quills allow the dog to take a break, give him, or her, some exercise before starting again.

In severe cases, as when the dog has more than 40 quills, they are in the dogs mouth, or near its eye, the dog should be taken to a veterinarian who can sedate (or anesthetize) the dog while the quills are removed.

After the quills are removed the area should be washed in an antibacterial soap and checked daily to see if there are any signs of quills that may have been missed.

You may want to note that porcupine quills are quite clean, the animals have a sort of antibiotic that coats their quills, this is because they, themselves, are often poked, as such while infection can occur it is less common with quills than from a bacteria infested mouth – a bite.

photo source – this dog  is lucky it only has a few quills in its lower jaw and chin, the owner should be able to remove these without a veterinarians help.

Points of Interest

Porcupines cannot “shoot” quills, a dog must physically make contact in order to become stuck. A wise owner would train the dog for simple commands such as “leave it” before going for a walk in the woods where porcupines are present. Dogs with high prey instincts should be kept on leash.

Cats are more cautions and less likely to get poked. Porcupines use similar body language as cats when saying “Stay Back”. Cats are more likely to get a porcupine quill stuck into them if it is one that came out of the porcupine and was stuck into a tree that the cat likes to climb. Cats who have quills in them that cannot be easily removed should be taken to the veterinarian.

Hedgehogs do not have the same kind of quills as porcupines.

Other Dog Health Links

Basic Information on Dog Health

Pimples on Pets

Parvo Virus – is your Puppy at Risk?

Rabies – What to do if you get Bit

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User Comments
  1. Kuru Tsu

    On November 8, 2010 at 3:32 am

    The 1st photo was funny. :) Anyways, it is not common here in the Philippines but it is nice to know. Thanks for the info.

  2. webseowriters

    On November 8, 2010 at 4:04 am

    A nice share

  3. Jimmy Shilaho

    On November 8, 2010 at 5:42 am

    This is by far your most creative piece. You made me smile at the title leave alone that expert advice you give throughout the article.

  4. Sourav

    On November 8, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Very good share.

  5. albert1jemi

    On November 8, 2010 at 8:04 am

    great share

  6. lillyrose

    On November 8, 2010 at 8:09 am

    OUCH! glad we never have that problem here! what long and tedious treatment! great share.

  7. K Kristie

    On November 8, 2010 at 9:46 am

    My knees turned wobbly looking at that dog with quills. Thankfully, there are no porcupines in the Philippines.

  8. giritharanj

    On November 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    nice share – gj

  9. Sceptical Thinker

    On November 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Interesting article, but not a problem that I have experienced first hand , thought! … do dogs learn to be wary of porcupines once they gone through this experience ?

  10. PSingh1990

    On November 8, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Nice Share.


  11. PARAM

    On November 8, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Nice one….

    thanks for share.

  12. researchanalyst

    On November 9, 2010 at 2:02 am

    ooh that looks like that hurts, poor dog, good thing there is a way to fix the situation

  13. Jo N

    On November 9, 2010 at 9:50 am

    oh no i hope no dog has to go thru this!

  14. papaleng

    On November 10, 2010 at 1:23 am

    first time to hear about this porcupine quills, I have not encountered one. But thanks for the info. If ever it does happen then i will not be groping for solutions.

  15. SharifaMcFarlane

    On November 15, 2010 at 3:25 am

    That dog in the first picture definitely needs anaesthesia.

  16. Elizabeth

    On June 2, 2011 at 10:23 am

    My dogs have been quilled 8 – 9 times. Three of those times were bad enough to have to go to the vet and have them anesthetized. My dogs are otherwise fairly intelligent; but will NOT learn about porcupines. I believe that they think, “Hey , that is the animal that hurt me last time, I am going to really get it this time!” In most other cases I have heard of, dogs who have gone after porcupines become repeat offenders and do NOT learn to stay away.

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