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Porcupine Encounters: Keeping Fido Safe

August 1 2023

The porcupine has what is without a doubt one of the most unique self-defense mechanisms in the animal kingdom. While many critters rely on claws and teeth to protect themselves, these guys decided to essentially weaponize their bodies by covering themselves in needle-sharp quills. Porcupine encounters are extremely dangerous for dogs. Fido has a strong prey drive, and is also quite territorial, which means he can be in for an unpleasant—and potentially life-threatening—surprise if he encounters a porcupine. Here, a Cherry Hill, NJ veterinarian offers some tips on protecting your furry friend from porcupines.


Porcupines have about 30,000 quills. The quills aren’t venomous, but can cause infection due to the presence of bacteria. They also have sharp barbs on the ends, which makes them very difficult to remove. If not taken out quickly, the quills will continue to work further into a dog’s body, causing infections and abscesses and potentially rupturing or damaging internal organs.

What To Do

If your canine companion has a run-in with a porcupine, bring him to the vet immediately. This is definitely not a wait-and-see situation, nor is it something you should attempt to address yourself. Fido will need to be sedated. This is important for several reasons. The quills have to be removed carefully in order to prevent causing further damage. This also allows the vet to check for hidden quills. The longer the quills stay in, the greater the risk of them causing serious injuries.


The best way to protect Fido from being quilled is to keep him from interacting with porcupines in the first place. It’s worth noting that porcupines cannot shoot their quills: they release them when another animal is in contact with them. Always keep your furry friend leashed when exploring trails or wooded areas. Training can also help. Teaching your pooch simple commands, such as Stay and Leave it can protect him from not just porcupines, but from many other dangers as well. It’s also important to know when and where encounters are most likely. Porcupines inhabit fields and wooded areas, and are most active at dusk and dawn. They are shy, but, like many other animals, are being displaced due to development. Be extra cautious in rural areas, especially around new construction.

Do you have questions about keeping your dog safe? Call us, your Cherry Hill, NJ pet hospital, today!

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