Country Living Series

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Poor Thor

Yesterday while Don and I repaired a fence, Thor came over to say hello.



Thor is our Jersey cow Matilda's yearling steer (see his birth here). He's a sweet-natured boy. But as he nuzzled Don's hand, we noticed something alarming: Poor Thor must have had an encounter with a porcupine.





Naturally we tried to pull a quill out, but Thor's nose is undoubtedly sore and sensitive, and we couldn't even begin to grab one.



So poor Thor is very sore at the moment.



So what are we going to do about this? I have no idea. We don't have a headgate, which is the only possible way to keep Thor's head still enough to snip and pull the quills. About the only option I see is to bring a vet out to knock Thor out cold, then pull the quills.

For the moment we won't do anything. There aren't many, and they aren't interfering with his eating or drinking. They're not in his nose. But we're going to keep a sharp eye out for infection or other serious complications.

We have a neighbor who loathes porcupines, calling them the most useless animals on God's green earth. A few years ago a porcupine got into our yard, and my old dog Gypsy got such a massive mouth-ful of quills that we had to rush her to an after-hours emergency vet clinic nearly an hour and a half away (naturally this encounter happened late on a Friday night). Yet despite that expensive and painful encounter, I don't dislike porcupines.

Yet.

24 comments:

  1. Poor Thor :-( Maybe Thor won't be so curious when a prickly little friend comes to visit next time.
    If Thor's not in pain and can eat, and breathe okay, I would leave them in too. Eventually, the quills fall out.

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  2. You might talk to your vet about acepromazine. My sister uses it on their cattle ranch as a sedative and have had to use it to remove qills several times. It's not sold as a sedative for cattle, but most ranchers around here use it so it might be worth looking into. It doesn't put them out, they are still able to stand, but you can work on them without a fight.

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  3. Wonder if you could use somethning like you put on gums and teeth to numb the area. He seems calm and friendly enough and looks like he really wants you to help him. Maybe vet will give you a tranquilizer for him. Poor baby, looks painful.

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  4. How about: put him in a pen where he can't get anything to eat for a while. Get him good and hungry, then hand feed him his favorite. While doing this, pull out the quills while he is distracted. Disclaimer: I am not a farmer, have never dealt with anything larger than a rabbit.

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  5. It has been my experience that porcupine quills if not taken out will continue to go deeper into the animals flesh. When I was a kid our three black labs got hit with quills in the side,face, and head. By the time my Dad and brother got to the last quills- they almost could not be seen. As a matter of fact s few weeks later-one came out of the side of the mouth of one. Call the vet. Thanks for your site. Nurse Claudia

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  6. It has been my experience that porcupine quills if not taken out will continue to go deeper into the animals flesh. When I was a kid our three black labs got hit with quills in the side,face, and head. By the time my Dad and brother got to the last quills- they almost could not be seen. As a matter of fact s few weeks later-one came out of the side of the mouth of one. Call the vet. Thanks for your site. Nurse Claudia

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  7. I am eternally thankful that the porcupine that was munching on our garage the first week we moved in to our new house was so unaccustomed to seeing anyone else that it didn't know how to react when my border collie tried to herd it out of the yard! We were exceptionally lucky that he didn't get a nose full of quills... the porcupine was significantly less lucky the next time it stopped by our garage for a snack. That fat thing weighed 30 pounds and made quite a yummy treat for the local coyotes.

    I'm very much in line with your friend - porcupines are not welcome!

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  8. I agree with nurse Claudia. Call the vet because they will migrate deeper and cause worse problems and infection. It's not worth waiting to see if they fall out. What I'm seeing in the pictures look to be fairly set in. Hope poor Thor gets some relief soon. Take care and good luck.

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  9. I like Christina's advice and hope you can help him asap. Bless his heart. He came and showed his dad.

    And I understand porcupines are edible, so I'd dang sure be looking to roast me one. Or, as in your case, maybe to can one. lol But eat 'em or not, I sure don't want 'em around. Too much potential for misery.

    A.McSp

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  10. Sorry about Thor's predicament but loved this line:
    "So poor Thor is very sore at the moment."
    Now say it while holding your tongue!
    Interesting that the porcupine quills migrate in. Are they like Foxtails (A sharp weed with barbs)? My dog got some in his paws and I needed to have a vet remove them.
    I like the sedative suggestion. Maybe have the vet along to supervisor this first time but it would be good if you guys learn to remove them yourself.

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  11. Maybe your vet could give you some lidocaine to numb the area. Poor Thor! OUCH

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  12. Our dog killed a porcupine. The quills were every where. We did what we could and the vet did as much as he could. Shortly after Chase, we noticed his foot swelling. Back to the vet. He cut into the foot and cleared out many quills deep in his foot, but it kept getting worse. We had to have his leg removed because the quills caused an infection. That was three years ago and he trees racoons. He is happy and we are glad we didn't put Chase to sleep.

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  13. Glad Thor had sense to let you know he'd been spined so that you can keep an eye on him. Hope he will be well, too!

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  14. I've heard that clipping the quill before pulling it out will make it less painful.

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  15. Patrice,
    You halter broke him, right? I seem to remember that Don was going to use him as an oxen or something. If he is halter broke, tie him to a STOUT post or a tree and then put nose tongs in his nose. It works much like a twitch on a horse. Pull his head upward to help restrain him then try and get those puppies out. Once they are removed, either spray with an antiseptic spray (Tea-pro Equine is my favorite for all species and humans) or at the very least, some Bag Balm then just make sure he keeps eating and that it does not get infected. I am not a vet, just a "retired" vet tech and I avoid the vet as much as possible. If you cannot get them out yourself, then do call the vet.
    One of my horses got quilled the year after we moved here to Idaho. He was only a 3 year old but he let me pull them just with the twitch on him. Of course, getting the twitch on was kind of interesting since he quills were in his upper lip.
    Paintedmoose

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  16. I have no idea if this works but in an old Herters "professional Guide's Manual" it has a remedy for removing quills from your dog.

    "Take a cupful of ordinary vinegar and add one tablespoon of baking soda to it. Stir well. Now sop this solution carefully on all the protruding parts of the quills. Wait ten minutes. Then again sop with the solution. Again wait ten minutes. You can then pull out the quills with ease and without hurting the dog at all."

    Might be worth a try.

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  17. I have no idea if this works but it is directly from the Herter's 'Professional Guide's Manual' on how to remove quills from your dog.

    "Proceed as follows: Take a cupful of ordinary vinegar and add one tablespoon of baking soda to it. Stir well. Now sop this solution carefully on all the protruding parts of the quills. Wait ten minutes. Then again sop with the solution. Again wait ten minutes. You can then pull out the quills with ease and without hurting the dog at all."

    I've also heard that cutting the ends of the quills make them easier to pull.

    Best of luck!

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  18. On a holiday weekend more than 40 years ago my late wife got a phone call from a nearby friend of hers that her dog had tangled with a porcupine, had a face full of quills, no vets were available and her husband was gone on an extended business trip. She asked if we could help. My wife, without my knowledge, told her to bring the dog to our place and that her husband (me) would remove them. Well, I had no experience doing this or anything else medical. But, if my wife said I could and would do it, I had no choice but to do it.

    Shortly thereafter the lady friend arrived with her dog and 5 small kids. The dog was big but cooperative. So, as the 2 ladies and 10 kids watched I gently tied the dog’s legs together with baling wire so it couldn’t jump about and gently wired its mouth shut so it couldn’t bite me. I then put the dog on its side on an outdoor picnic table and proceeded to pull (yank) the quills from its face using a pair of needle-nose pliers. It was a bloody process.

    When I got down to just a few quills left to pluck I wondered how I would know when the last one was out. Well, the dog told me. When the last one was plucked the dog went limp and exhaled loudly. I removed the wires and washed the dogs face. Ever after, the dog which previously had a serious dislike of me was my big buddy. And, to my wife and her friend and the 10 assembled kids I was a hero.

    I’m sure that there are folks who would say that I should have done the removal in a different manner or perhaps not at all. But there are times in life when, despite our lack of knowledge or training or proper equipment, when we have to do that which seems like it has to be now.

    Hangtown Frank

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  19. Do you know of any friends/neighbors that would have a headgate you could take Thor to in order to pull out the quills? Surely it should cost less to put Thor on a trailer and drive him to the headgate/squeezechute thingy than to call a vet out on a houscall.

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  20. Do you have a good rope? You could always cast Thor and pull the quills out.

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  21. Yep, get 'em out. My dog got a snout full some years ago, and the vet was adamant they would cause infection if left in. He didn't mention "going in deeper" part, but the folks who've mentioned it seem in agreement.
    I surprised your very skilled husband couldn't fashion an expedient head gate with some spare lumber and a door frame in your barn/out building. Some lidocaine or a mild sedative would be helpful in combination before pulling the spines.
    Last, depending on where Thor was 'hit,' you may have a porcupine problem around your immediate fields or house. They are nasty critters. Trap, live trap and shoot, or some combination thereof may be in order. Since you have lots of other animals, a live trap might be best. Cheap on Amazon...

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  22. So sorry to hear about Thor's difficulties. My poor Dachshund mix got nailed by a porcupine a few years ago. Her size made it quite easy to clip them and pull them out. We were told by the vet that they will go deeper, so you definitely need to get them out of Thor the sooner the better. A lot of good suggestions her on how to keep him calm. Good luck.

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  23. Patrice, just my opinion as a veterinarian:

    It's in Thor's best interest to get them treated. Most vets are far from heartless and will work with you financially.

    One thing I've seen in this down economy...people tend to put off calling us until the problem escalates, when the animal is in worse shape and the cost is invariably much higher. Not a cost-effective move.

    Didn't you have a similar experience with your old Lab?

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  24. I was just curious as to how Thor is doing. I hope he is comfortable and quill free...

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