A face full of porcupine quills is very painful for your pet and it is ideal to remove the quills as quickly as possible. Quills are a type of modified hair that have scales along the shaft that act like fishhook barbs that hold the quill in your pets tissue. This is why it is extra painful to pull the quills out.
Ideally, it is best to take your pet to a vet to have the quills pulled under sedation so it is less painful, there is less chance of human injury, quills are not pushed deeper within the tissue, and the entire quill is removed.
As vets, we do not recommend removing quills without examination and sedation because of the secondary complications that improper quill removal can have. Quills left in tissue: 1. Are a source of infection and may create abscesses 2. Can migrate further into the body causing damage to organs or joints
DON’T BELEIVE ME? I have had to remove a dogs eye because a quill migrated behind it and damaged the nerves that innervate his eye. We have found a quill in a dogs uterus when we spayed her. I have had to euthanize a kitten because a quill migrated into the lungs and the chest was filled with pus. I’ve seen joint infections because quills were cut off rather than pulled. And, don’t forget the ‘puffy faced dog’ thats entire face swelled up from a migrating quill.
If your pet has minimal quills and is very well behaved you may be able to remove the quills at home. If you do remove your pets quills: 1. DO NOT CUT THE QUILL WITH SCISSORS - the base of the quill is still in your pet and can be a source of infection and can cause damage to internal structures 2. Grasp the base of the quill firmly with pilers/medical hemostats and remove it entirely from the face
Quills are serious. Unfortunately, dogs do not learn from their mistakes. Try your best to refrain from letting your pet come in contact with porcupines. If he/she is quilled, minimize movements, prevent them from rubbing their face, and call your vet as soon as possible.