Beware of porcupines!

One of my nurses who works at an emergency clinic told me a crazy story that is a great reminder this summer.

A porcupine in the wild

She had seen yet another curious dog who couldn’t resist the urge to play with a porcupine… Of course, porcupines always win. The dog’s head, lips and tongue were covered in quills.

Depending on where you live, porcupines may be coming out of the woodwork. Dogs often think of a porcupine as a playmate. This could be very painful mistake. I suspect the picture tells the whole story.

This is a fairly classic situation at emergency clinics in my area (Pennsylvania and New Jersey). The Poconos are a beautiful mountain range but there are full of porcupines. The treatment for this situation is to anesthetize the dog, and remove the quills, one by one. And when there are hundreds of quills, it’s a lengthy procedure!

The bigger problem with porcupine quills is that they can occasionally migrate through the body. I remember participating in a surgery at the Colorado vet school, where a quill was literally inside the wall of the heart!

So please be careful, please keep your dog on a leash and please never ever think that your dog will learn from one bad experience. Experience proves that there are many repeat offenders, summer after summer…

Porcupines may be fascinating creatures, but they have no intention of playing fetch with your dog.

Be safe.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling veterinary surgeon in Pennsylvania & New Jersey. An award-winning author, he loves to share his adventures in practice along with information about vet medicine and surgery that can really help your pets. Dr. Zeltzman specializes in orthopedic, neurologic, cancer, and soft tissue surgeries for dogs, cats, and small exotics. By working with local family vets, he offers the best surgical care, safest anesthesia, and utmost pain management to all his patients. Sign up to get an email when he updates his blog, and follow him on Facebook, too!