How to Remove Porcupine Needles in a Dog's Face

Porcupines often leave dogs in pain thanks to their quills.
Porcupines often leave dogs in pain thanks to their quills. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

The word "porcupine" means "quill pig" in Latin. It's an apt name for an animal that can have up to 30,000 quills, or needles, mixed with the hair all over its body, except on its stomach. The quills are used for defense and can only be embedded in creatures that come into contact with them - porcupines cannot shoot their quills at approaching predators. Dogs are often the victims of porcupine quills because they are curious. Since porcupines move slowly, the dogs can often catch the creatures, finding their faces and mouths full of the quills.

Things You'll Need

  • Pliers
  • Blindfold
  • Leather gloves
  • Antibiotic ointment or prescription

Calm the dog.

Evaluate the severity of the quill problem. If there are only a few quills and they are located in the muzzle and chest or paws, you can probably handle the task yourself. If there are many quills or they are embedded inside the dog's mouth, the task is probably best carried out by a veterinarian while the dog is under anesthesia. This may also be the case if the dog is very large and hard to handle. Remember that removing the quills without anesthesia will hurt the dog.

Have a strong adult hold the dog and cover its eyes with their hands or a blindfold.

Put on the leather gloves as long as they allow you to easily maneuver the pliers. The protruding end of the porcupine quill has a short, sharp spine that hurts, but will not embed in your flesh.

Talk soothingly to the dog while you grasp a quill as close to the dog's skin as possible.

Pull the quill quickly out of the dog. Often when the dog feels you grasp the quill, he will jerk away and pull the quill out by himself.

Repeat the process until all the quills have been removed. If some quills break off it's best to leave them there rather than probe to remove it.

Call your vet for an antibiotic, or apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment until the flesh heals.

Tips & Warnings

  • The sooner you can remove the quills the better.
  • If you are having a hard time removing the quills, call the veterinarian.

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