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Dogs And Porcupines

July 15, 2022
Have you ever encountered a porcupine in the wild, perhaps when hiking? Hopefully the answer to that is ‘no.’ Several of our canine patients have met these prickly rodents … and come out on the losing side of those encounters. In this article from Arapahoe Animal Hospital, your Boulder, CO animal clinic, serving Louisville, CO and surrounding areas, a vet discusses Fido’s rocky relationship with porcupines.

Porcupine Basics

A member of the rodent family, the porcupine is usually a loner, though they do occasionally group up for winters. (Note: a gathering of porcupines is known as a prickle, which is definitely an appropriate name.) Porcupines have about 30,000 razor-sharp quills. They do not actually shoot these quills: they release them when touched or bitten. Porcupines usually live in trees, though they do den in winter. Though mostly nocturnal, they sometimes do forage during the day.

Protecting Fido

Fortunately, taking a few basic precautions will greatly reduce the risk of your canine companion running into one of these feisty pincushions. Keep Fido inside, leashed, or in fenced areas, especially at night, and don’t let him investigate areas that could have dens. Removing brush piles from your property will also help. If you know or suspect that you have porcupines on your land, contact a humane pest control company. If possible, choose a trap-and-release solution.


If your furry pal does have a run in with a porcupine, you’ll need to get him to the emergency vet ASAP. Getting the quills removed immediately is extremely important. Because of the way the quills are formed, they won’t come out by themselves. If they are not removed quickly, they will start to work their way deeper into Fido’s body. This is both painful and dangerous, and can lead to life-threatening infections and internal injuries. Never try to remove quills yourself. This is very painful for Fido. Understandably, he’ll probably struggle. This may drive them in deeper or snap them off, making removal harder. This should be done by a vet. Fortunately, unless a dog has an unusual amount of quills and/or has them in his eyes or vital organs, chances of a quick recovery are usually good with prompt treatment. Ask your vet for more information. Do you have questions about your dog’s health or care? Contact us at Arapahoe Animal Hospital, your local Boulder, CO animal clinic, today!