Thursday, July 30, 2009

How to traumatize your dog 101

So a man calls the office and says his dog was quilled last night and he would like the dog checked in case he needs antibiotics. He says he pulled the quills himself but just wants the exam. I make space for him in the afternoon schedule. When he arrives we notice that the dog is limping. OK that isn't good news. Cut to the exam room where he tells the doctor the dog had hundreds of quills in his face, in his mouth and his neck as well as some in his paw. The doctor couldn't do a good exam because the dog was now extremely head shy and snapped a warning. They couldn't get a good look at the paw either but it is assumed that there are still some quills causing havoc which is responsible for the limp. (that wasn't mentioned in the phone call) He will now be back tomorrow so we can properly anestitize the dog to get a good look and pull what may be left.
My mistake? Assuming the dog only had a few quills in the first place. A dog owner might pull a few quills themselves but usually leave seriously quilled dogs for us to deal with.
WTF was this guy thinking? How painful that must have been for that poor dog?? For those that don't know, quills do not pull out easily. They have backward facing scales which help them stay in the skin. Pulling them out takes some force on the pullers part. (And it is a myth that cutting them lets air out so don't try it. It only leaves less for us to hold onto.)
My lesson in all of this is to ask more questions next time and to get the dog in earlier. Time could have been saved had I realized the severity of the dogs incident with the porqupine. I also learned that not every owner considers the pain involved for their pet during a quilling incident. I mean, he knew to come in for medication but he put the dog through hell to get to that point. Besides the physical pain that dog has gone through, it is possible that he may become leery of his owner as well as others around his head from now on. Wouldn't you be?
Perhaps he was trying to save himself from a large vet bill. Unfortunatly a pretty high price was paid for it by his dog. I cannot imagine putting my dog through that much pain to save a few dollars, which in the long run it didn't. The dog still needs to be anestitized for us to get a good look and get the rest of the quills out. It might be ironic if it wasn't so sad.


Katie said...

Man, the last quilled dog we saw had been quilled two days previously, had been allowed to go all weekend with a face and mouth full of quills. That dog was a mess. It took ages to get them all out. They were in her tonsils, her soft palate, insides of her lips, all over her face and front legs. Can you imagine spending days with porcupine quills all through your mouth??

She was the nicest dog though. Gosh.

Barb said...

Poor dog! I'm glad we don't have porcupines here, but we do have rattlesnakes and skunks with rabies so I guess it's not much of a trade! :-)

Jared Hall said...

So, if our dogs get quilled, the best thing to do is rush them asap to the vet?

...I hope this never happens to my labradoodle - but it never hurts to be prepared (well, it would hurt to be quilled even though you are prepared...)

Any tips to ease the dog's pain in the meantime?

Jared Hall

Marie said...

Yes call your vet. It's not an emergency in the sense of get there NOW, it is always best to give your vets office a heads up so they are prepared, but they need to come out as soon as possible for the comfort of the dog and to prevent infection. (and the change of quills migrating deeper)

There is also a big difference between pulling 5 quills out yourself and hundreds without the dog having any pain medication. By the time we saw that dog it was beyond freaked out of anyone trying to touch him because of the pain.

I say don't give your dog anything for pain because you don't want to cause a possible reaction to that combined with what your vet might give once there. If you are concerned ask the tech on the phone when you call and see what they say to do. All hospitals handle it differently. Just prevent the dog from hitting their face (or body) where the quills are to prevent more pain.