Porcupine attack: how to remove hedgehog spines from dog care

Shelter dogs need
Lilian Lima / Hotel Pancina Velez

Shelter dogs “Pancinha Feliz” needed veterinary care after encountering a porcupine

In some areas, some dogs can be subject to porcupine “attacks” and their feathers can get stuck in the pet’s mouth. Seeing a pet full of thorns can be nerve-wracking, but the owner needs to remain calm to help the pet.

Another important point is not to harm the porcupine if a hedgehog is found. The spines are hard bristles that act as a defense mechanism against predators. The reason that the mouth is the most affected area in pets is because dogs try to capture the animal as prey. The porcupine does not shed its feathers and does not pose any danger to anyone.

How to help pets

As soon as the accident occurs, it is best to take the animal to the vet immediately. A professional will be able to remove the thorns without causing suffering to the pet. However, if it wasn’t too serious or there was no hospital available at the moment, the teacher should help.

The thorns should be removed as soon as possible so as not to cause serious injuries and even serious infections.

First, you need to be careful not to itch or struggle with your dog, as this can break the thorns and make the situation worse. The owner should also not do anything alone, even the calmest animals can have a more aggressive behavior due to pain – if possible, it is better if the helper is someone with whom the dog feels safe and comfortable.

Pimples in the chest and abdomen area are the most dangerous. If a fracture occurs, it can reach vital organs, especially in young animals. It is more difficult to remove thorns stuck around the mouth, throat, or near the eyes.


  • Never cut thorns before removing them. This only makes handling and removal difficult.
  • Even if the dog is agitated and threatens to bite, if there are thorns in the mouth area, you should not wear a muzzle. This can break the nails and push them deeper.
  • Before starting the removal, it is important to inspect the entire body of the animal for the presence of spines. Even if the most affected area is the head, there may be thorns on the paws, due to which the animal is trying to remove the discomfort, as well as the chest, stomach and abdomen. Swellings can help identify the affected parts.
  • You also need to look inside the mouth, down to the back palate and throat – with a flashlight if possible. If any spines are found in this area, the animal should be taken to the veterinary hospital immediately.

Once all the spines are identified, the animal should be as comfortable as possible and the teacher should make light movements and speak softly. To help prevent a potential sting, you can use a washcloth to cover your dog’s eyes. Remember that, if possible, it is important to have one or more people assisting in holding the animal.

Using flat-nose pliers, hold the base of the fork close to the skin very firmly, being careful not to split the fork in half. If there are smaller or broken spines, smaller or thin-nose pliers can be used. Never attempt to remove thorns using only your hands.

The fork should be pulled out all at once, directly in the opposite direction from which it entered. Bending the thorn can break it and cause more internal injury to the animal. The faster the pulling motion, the less pain the dog will have.

If the teacher does not feel safe in the transition, he should seek help. Not worth the risk!

What do you do if the fork breaks?

The vet uses surgical pliers to remove the thorns
Lilian Lima / Hotel Pancina Velez

The vet uses surgical pliers to remove the thorns

It can happen that the fork breaks during removal or even before. These tiny nails can cause infection and even reach the animal’s organ.

For safe removal, forceps can be used, but the utensil must first be sterilized. To do this, wash it under running water and immerse it in a bowl of boiling water for five minutes. Next, carefully remove it from the water and let it cool on a clean cloth for a few more minutes.

Carefully pull the tip of the fork to remove it. If after several attempts you cannot or you can no longer see them due to swelling, the animal should be taken to the vet.

For a good recovery

The thorns, whole and broken, should be removed one by one. The owner must always ensure that no tip remains on the animal’s body. The faster all the spines are removed, the better the dog’s recovery.

In superficial wounds, a teacher can use an antiseptic or antiseptic (oxygen peroxide) to reduce the risk of infection. Remember to leave the wounds open so it is easy for you to see if there is any worsening over time.

In the case of more serious injuries, especially in cases of bleeding, gauze can be used for bandages. Do not use cleanser on the chest area.

The teacher should be aware of any changes in the pet, such as difficulty eating, pain, or fever. The vet can prescribe an antibiotic to aid recovery, and in addition, the teacher should ask about the need for a rabies vaccine booster.

No medicine should be given to a pet without a prescription from a veterinarian.

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