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Safely Remove Porcupine Quills from your Dog

In this article, I’m going to help you decide when it’s okay to pull quills out yourself, how to recognize when a professional is needed, and offer tips on how to keep porcupines and other wildlife away from your house

Do porcupines shoot Their quills?

Porcupines do not shoot their quills. The quills, which are actually thick, prickly hairs with barbs, easily brush off when the animal feels threatened.

Quills Can Cause Long-Term Problems

Quills can usually be removed and the dog will recover without any further issues.

However, certain location of the quills e.g. in the eye or in the joints as well as broken quills migrating through the body into vital organs can cause serious problems.

If you are not able to get to a veterinarian right away, and you know you can safely pull quills from your dog, go ahead and do it.

That, of course, is assuming there are only a few quills (and by “a few”, I mean 50 or less).


  • Pliers
  • Puncture-proof container to put the quills in
  • A second person nearby to sit behind the dog, away from the porcupine quills, ready to steady the dog.
  • Non-stinging antiseptic

The risks associated with pulling quills from your dog(s) include:

  • getting stuck with quills yourself.
  • snapping the quills off and accidentally leaving pieces in the dog.
  • driving the quills deeper into the dog, which could puncture organs.

How to Remove Quills from Your Dog

Use the pliers to grasp one quill at a time. Grasp as close to the entry point of the quill as possible and be prepared to give one, quick, yank.

Don’t twist your arm or hand, and don’t pull the quill at an angle. Don’t cut the tips of the quills off before pulling. 

It’s a myth that quills will “release” once the tips are clipped off. Quills are made of a tough keratin (protein) that don’t open or soften.

Clipping the quills only makes them harder to grasp.

When Not to Pull quills From a Dog

When the quills are embedded close to the eyes, up the nose, or deeply in the throat, get a veterinarian to assist. 

Your dog will need a sedative in order to properly remove these quills. You only have one chance and if your dog moves suddenly, you could accidentally pierce his eye or shove the quill deeper inside.

Complications to Watch For Include:

Once the quills have been removed, the following medical complications are possible.

  • Abscess
  • Infection
  • Internal quills could migrate into the joints
  • Internal quills could migrate to the organs

Get your dog into a veterinarian for a thorough checkup even if you believe you have pulled all of the quills successfully.

Keep Porcupines Away From Your House

Porcupines are nocturnal creatures (rodents, actually) that love to nibble on trees. You might see them during the day, but they mostly come out at twilight or evening.

The following tips & tricks may help to keep porcupines away without causing them serious harm.

Hot Sauce/Capsaicin

Apply hot sauce on the shrubs, trees, or bushes around your house. Porcupines love to nibble and this just might keep them away from your hard.

Secure Fencing

Fencing isn’t a guarantee, but it may deter porcupines, skunk, raccoons, etc., from venturing through your yard.

  • Non-toxic deterrents are available at local hardware and department stores.
  • Sensor lights
  • Live-trap. Call your local animal control office for advice, assistance.

Non-Toxic Deterrents

Hardware stores, hunting stores, department stores, etc., often carry deterrents to use around your home. Some ideas include sensor lights to scare them away and live-traps if the problem is too much to handle.

The good news is that porcupines are not persistent. If you can find a way to deter them, or remove them by live-trapping, it’s unlikely they will come back anytime soon.

Remove Porcupine Quills from a dog safely.

Veterinary Care For Quills in Dogs

A veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible.  The more your dog moves, and the longer the quills stay in their skin, the more likely it is for the quills to break and migrate within the body.

The veterinarian will anesthetize your dog to remove deeply embedded quills.

The anesthetic decreases the pain and stress for your dog, allowing the vet to remove the quills more easily without them breaking. Each quill can be closely looked at to ensure the whole quill has been removed – the end should taper into a point.


If you can get your dog to a veterinarian it’s best to do so rather than attempting it yourself. Pulling quills from a dog is tricky and very painful for the dog. There’s a risk of pushing the quills in further or snapping them off too close to the skin.

Pulling porcupine quills from a dog leaves open puncture wounds that can easily lead to infection and secondary bacterial infections.

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