Back Yard Bandits!


We all know what is coming when your dog goes running from the door into the dark back yard or darts into the forest of unknown.   We are hoping there really isn’t anything there and that your beloved pet comes up empty handed.   Most of the time he or she comes bouncing back, but sometimes you hear it, another animal is out there.   You hear a yelp which means the porcupine has got them or the smell that you think yup that’s a skunk. Either way you’re up for a drive to the vet.

Porcupine quills can be quite painful and irritating what you want to do is try not to let your dog paw at them, this can push quills in further or have them break off. Porcupines have over 25,000 quills on their back.   Most cartoons you see them shooting out, in their defence. They don’t actually shoot out, the porcupine quills stand up on the body in all different directions. They are then lodge in to our dog’s skin when they go for the porcupine. The quills have microscopic barbs at the end making them easy to go in and hard to pull out. We often get questions like can I pull the quills out myself, we don’t recommend this. Pulling out quills can be very painful and we would hate for anyone to get bitten and it is not fair to your dog. Putting a muzzle is out of the question. Dogs usually go to bite the porcupine so they get some inside their mouth all the way back to their throat. Putting a muzzle on can cause more trauma inside the mouth or even push them right in. Most of the time the main area that gets the bulk of the quills is the face and in the mouth so your pet will need to be fully sedated/ anesthetized to get a proper look of all areas. Pulling out quills yourself has the risk of the quills breaking, not getting them all and in some cases quills can cause infection and joint pain.   Most quills will migrate inwards causing abscess. In extreme cases x-rays or ultrasounds may be needed to check if they have migrated, if quills are not dealt with in a timely manner. Some patients need the doctor to go in surgical to remove imbedded and migrated quill.


You can smell it for days, it feels like it follows you wherever you go and months later your furry friend gets wet and you feel like you’re reliving the horror all over again. Being skunked is horrible and most of the time you have let them back in the house before you really notice the smell. It is just not outside, it’s in the house!!! I’m sure we have all heard it all from tomato juice, lemon, mint toothpaste, cola and more. But nothing really gets it out.

Why do skunks spray? It’s all in defence not to be harmed by another predator. Skunk spray is really them releasing their anal glands, these anal glands are just around the anus. This explains why skunks lift up their tails to spray, they just don’t spray once they can spray up to 8 times. That might be why your dog or cat has this clear to green colour film all over. Skunk off is a product we use in hospital and sell to our clients, If used correctly you can get most of the smell gone. If you’re furry friend has been sprayed in the face you want to rinse out their eyes and mouth. Warm water with nothing in it is fine, be gentle around the eye.   If you have not got your pet wet you can us the soaker. You want to wipe off any skunk spray you can see, then soak the area, and let dry.   You can see a film start to dry, once fully dry pull the film off.   If you have tried something else first or your friend is wet then you need the shampoo.   Wipe off an excess skunk spray. Then go to town working that shampoo in.   I’m not going to lie to get the smell gone you may have to repeat once or twice.  The soaker can be used to wash our clothes and carpets if needed.

One important thing you must remember that both these animals can carry rabies. You want to look for any scratches or bite marks. Although not common, it is still a good reason to keep your pet up to date with vaccines. You never know when the bandits will strike, well probably when you’re already late for work!!!