Dogs do so love to frolic in the woods. Treeing squirrels, digging holes, eating nameless morsels of who knows what … and sometimes playing with porcupine.

Now as most people know, touching one of those quilled creatures is not the best idea. But for some reason dogs just don’t seem to get the warning signals that the slow waddling animals give out.

Unfortunately, many of our curious canines have had their interest repaid by a snoot full of very sharp, very painful quills.

I myself have been fortunate enough to only ever have one dog come out of the bush with a face looking like an overused pincushion. But then he did try to attack the porcupine, so he got what was coming to him.

Much to my relief he never tried again, unlike my friend’s dog who now seems to have a vendetta against porcupine and goes after each one he detects.

Since many of the encounters of the prickly kind happen quite a ways from town, and quite a ways from a vet, I thought I would share a few of the things that I learned in my encounter.

The first thing is to get as many quills out as quickly as possible. Starting with the ones that are embedded the furthest. The pointed quills are also barbed and once they pierce the skin they continue to work their way deeper into their victim. This can result in some very serious damage being done. Especially if they are near the eyes, nasal passages, in the roof of the mouth or the inner ear.

The eyes and ears being the most vulnerable, if your dog had any quills in or very near these areas, get him to a vet immediately.

Luckily, most quills are relatively easy to remove and with a pair of pliers, scissors, vinegar and a firm resolve you can usually remove them yourself. Although I found that the job went a lot smoother if you can get a second person to help you.

The first thing to do is cut off the ends of the quills, not too much, just the tip. They are hollow and by removing the end it releases the pressure inside of them, making them much easier to pull.

Pouring white vinegar on the area also helps loosen up the quills.

Next, use the pliers to grip the shaft as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out. You do not want to pull at an angle or you run the risk of the tip breaking off. Said tip will continue to work itself deeper and often can get infected.

Providing that you work quickly and there are no quills in the danger zones, you should be able to get through a prickly encounter without a trip to the emergency room.

Happy bush exploring!

Contact Jaime Hanna with your questions at crittertalk101@hotmail.com.

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