Dear Daisy Dog: Dieter, my German wirehaired pointer, almost had a run-in with a porcupine while I was training him in the field. What do I do if he’s ever harpooned by porcupine quills?
Daisy Responds: Rush him to a veterinary emergency clinic. If there are quills in or near his eyes, have someone restrain him while you’re driving so he doesn’t do further damage.
Quills are loosely attached to the porcupine’s body, so they release easily when the dog touches the porcupine. Each quill is covered by what look like fish scales, designed to help the quill work in deeper, making removal difficult.
If a porcupine quill breaks off near the surface of the dog’s skin, it can migrate through the body. If it reaches a joint, the quill will cause pain and limping. If it ends up in the heart, brain or other vital organ, it will kill.
Because the quill scales are designed to dig in, quill removal is painful and therefore best done when Dieter is anesthetized. After the procedure, the veterinarian will send Dieter home with pain medicine.
Unfortunately, quilled dogs rarely learn their lesson. Most continue to attack porcupines and get quilled again. If Dieter has this experience, you might reconsider his role as a hunting dog.