Your Dog And Porcupines

What would you reckon is the most dangerous wild animal that is waiting for your dog on the trail? Bears? Wolves? Snakes? How about porcupines?

The docile porcupine is slow-moving and easy to catch. Wouldn't you be too if you were covered with a coast of sharp quills? The porcupine is actually a rodent, the world's fourth largest. It is a good climber and is found in forest across temperate climates throughout America and Canada but can also be found in desert scrubland.

A balled-up porcupine is a magnet for a curious dog. And a disaster in the waiting if he catches one. If your dog gets quilled try to pull out the sharp quills with whatever tool is available (if you are near home or car, a pair of pliers is your best bet). If you cannot extricate the quill, do not cut it. When cut, the barbed portion of the quill imbedded under the skin is likely to swell, making complete removal extremely difficult.

If you cannot get the quill out, seek professional help as quickly as possible. Try and prevent your dog from rubbing the affected area as this will push the quills in deeper. Easier said than done. The veterinarian will probably anesthesize your dog to accomplish the task and treat the wound with antibiotics. If you do a lot of hiking in porcupine territory and are worried about your dog's chasing a porcupine you can carry mild tranquilizer tablets.

Like any trail hazard the best solution is prevention - keep your dog in sight and under control.