Sunday, July 26th began like any other Sunday morning in our home. Jason woke up around 7am to let Bruder out for his morning routine. Bruder enjoys his usual morning stroll around the perimeter of our property. He stops to take in the many new smells left by the night time critters that frequent our yard. Bruder is especially intrigued by the stonewall along the backside of our property. This wall borders a small wooded area which opens to a large open field behind our home. Over the past two years we have seen moose, bear, fisher cats, deer, coyotes, raccoons, opossum, and of course porcupines in the field, and many wooded trails that surround our home. For a curious puppy like Bruder this is sniffing heaven.
On this particular Sunday however, Bruder would not only sniff but he would have an up close and personal introduction to one of our many wild residents, the porcupine. Bruder came back down towards the house and began rubbing and pawing at his nose. Initially we thought a fly or bee was buzzing around him when he lifted his head however, I realized he had many quills sticking out from his snout. We immediately called Bruder into the house to evaluate the situation and determine what we should do. Our Vets office is closed on Sundays and the nearest Emergency Vet is just over an hour away. I myself have never had a dog end up in this situation but I knew they needed to be removed in order to avoid an infection or further pain, the question was how to do it safely.
I quickly reached out to a close friend who was a former veterinary technician and asked for her guidance. Through a series of texts and photos she was able to walk me through what tools I would need and how to best remove the quills. I thankfully already owned several sets of hemostats, along with doggy first aid items which I always keep on hand.
So, Jason and I began to attempt to remove the quills. Initially we were able to remove a few but Bruder quickly became wise to us and the pain he experienced with each one. He began to panic and became anxious, drooling, pacing and avoiding us completely. I again reached out to my friend who recommended we give Bruder a small dose of Benadryl to help calm him and induce a sleep-like state. Bruder has been given Benadryl in the past due to his allergy to bees so I knew this was a safe and effective method to calm his breathing and relax him. (please do not administer any medications to your pet without guidance from your vet). Unfortunately Bruder was so anxious and scared that after having taken the medication, he promptly threw it up. Bruder who has never been aggressive towards us or anyone else began growing, and snapping at us in an attempt to get us to stop pulling out the quills. I once again contacted my friend for further suggestions. She told me that she had a muzzle with an open nose section. Based on the photos I provided and the description of where the quills were she felt that we could safely put this on him and remove the remainder of the quills. I drove to her house to pick up the muzzle, while there her husband offered to come down and assist us with removing the quills.
Once he arrived with his help we attempted to use the muzzle. Initially this worked but our Houndini was able to easily free himself. The decision was made that Jason and our friend would hold Bruder down safely while I pulled the rest of the quills. Our friend covered Bruder’s eyes so he could not see me moving closer to his nose with the hemostats in hand. This trick seemed to calm him a bit and gave me enough time to remove the remainder of the quills. Once done Bruder jumped up wagging his tail, happily barking, as if to say thank you then, Bruder apparently exhausted from the entire experience, went outside and took a much needed nap in the sun.
I treated his snout with an antimicrobial wound and skin care spray recommended by our trainer to help prevent any possible infection. Since we have had several medical situations with Bruder over the past year, I have found it helpful to keep first aid items in our home for not just the humans but for Bruder as well. Many of these items have been recommended by our vet, trainer, friends and a co-worker who is also a homesteader with many animals.
We were very fortunate that Bruder only had about 30 quills in his nose. Many porcupine attacks result in many more quills and can be in their mouth, throat, chest, legs and even eyes.
Bruder has since made a full recovery and has returned to exploring our yard daily. However, he has decided that barking at the birds is much safer.