S.O.S.!!! Vets? Docs? Homesteaders?

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My dogs tangled twice with a porcupine, and the vet bill was horrendous!! I tried to get as many quills out as possible at home first, but still got charged over two hundred dollars today. I told the vet assistant that I needed to be able to do this at home in the future, and asked about anesthesia. She seemed shocked and said that was "impossible" and that "you will not be able to obtain those drugs". I said,.."I think I can obtain the drugs, just tell me the dosage you used today." Now the woman looks aghast and says "No one will sell you those drugs, or at least they shouldn't!" I try to remain polite and said, "It's not like I'm going to use them to anesthetize my kids!" Should I use whiskey, Vicodin, what? So...someone out there, some advice please before my dogs bankrupt me!

-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), August 24, 1999



All I can recall is that the vet I used to work for used Ketamine (Rompun - sp?) for "conscious sedation". It was an injectible, more than that I do not know. Remember that there is always a risk of sedating an animal too much and they will stop breathing/heart stops. Manhandling may be your best option. Dogs react differently to commonly used human drugs (including whiskey) so be extremely cautious in that area. Good luck, I do not envy you the task if they find the quilly buggars again! :(

-- Kristi (securxsys@cs.com), August 24, 1999.


I found further info in a book on ketamine hydrochloride (Ketalar): Rapid acting, nonbarbiturate, intravenous drug. Produces analgesia and amnesia but not muscular relaxation. Produces a dissociative anesthesia: that is, it produces a cataleptic state in which the client appears to be awake but detached from his or her environment and unresponsive to pain. Eyelids usually do not close, rapid, involuntary oscillation of the eyeballs is common and slight involuntary and purposeless movements may occur. Ketamine increases secretions of salivary glands and bronchial glands; therefore the administration of atropine may be necessary. Ketamine may increase blood pressure, muscle tone, and heart rate. Respiration is usually not depressed. After recovery (in humans), the client has no recall of events while under the influence of ketamine.

Ketamine is best suited for short diagnostic or surgical procedures not requiring skeletal muscle relaxation. Onset of anesthesia when given IV is within 30 seconds. When administered IM onset of action within 3 to 4 minutes. Duration of action is 5 to 10 minutes for IV dose of 2 mg/kg body weight or 12 to 25 minutes for and IM dose of 10 mg./kg.

Ketamine is metabolized in the liver. Side effects can be hallucinations for up to 24 hours.

Also read that chloroform is toxic to the liver and that because ether is so flammable neither is used clinically today. You might see what you can find about ether if you are really desperate for anesthetic for your dogs (I still vote for manhandling....). I would suspect that the risks associated by rookie/layperson anesthetic may outweigh the risks of letting unreachable quills work their way out. Sorry I don't sound more encouraging.......

-- Kristi (securxsys@cs.com), August 25, 1999.


-- Kristi (securx@cs.com), August 25, 1999.

Thanks Kristi! Tried manhandling, but we could barely control the little dog. Don't think I'd like to have a pain-chomping reaction from our Bouvier when I tried to pull quills from his tongue and gums etc. Wish the vet would have been more reasonable and helpful. Grateful for any advice out there. What did people used to do?

-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), August 25, 1999.

Our dog was 'quilled' once and he was not taken to the vet. My grandfather pulled out the quills and used a lot of Neosporin salve. This dog was considered a yard dog and not really a house pet as most dogs are today and such dogs were not taken to the vet except for yearly shots. The dog never again tangled with another porcupine and lived to be a very old dog. Please post if you find the drugs that are needed.

-- Carol (glear@usa.net), August 25, 1999.

Carol, Got that right, they will learn, usualy faster than most.

Mumsie, Wrap your legs around thier body and sooth them, be firm and pull the quills. It's guna hurt, but with a firm hand and trust, your dog will sit still for it, after all, he/she will have come to you for rescue in the first place, convince them you know what you are doing.

-- CT (ct@no.yr), August 25, 1999.

I hope you're right! The vet's assistant told us that usually the dog who has been quilled becomes obsessed with catching and killing that porcupine. I would like to be able to anesthetize the dogs and pull the quills if that happens. Are there any vets out there who are willing to advise? As I said, they only let me pull the first dozen quills, and then they anticipated the pain and would not let me pull anymore. Not even the little dog, who loves me with her life and had her puppies right next to me.

-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), August 25, 1999.

If you can get some one to give you Rompon, follow the dosage exactly.(Make sure you get the one for small animals and not the horse one) If you can get them to also give you some Yohimbin, it will counteract the Rompan and wake the dog up right away. Watch the breathing while the dog is under. The dog may throw up just before it goes under. It will probably salivate and drool a lot too, both from the anesthesia and you pulling the quills. While the dog is under it wouldn't hurt to give it its annual shots, etc if due. Forgive spelling erros...am impaired this time of morning.


-- Taz (Tassie@aol.com), August 25, 1999.


I disagree with the vet assistant; one whiff of porcupine and those dogs will be beating a path other way unless they have especially high pain thresholds. I have one like that...while "working" she tore her entire toe off, yiped once and kept working.

I am not familiar with anesthesia, but I have to go with Kristi on this one, and advocate manhandling, cross tying AND muzzling; since a dog bite to one's self would just complicate the situation.

I can't afford it (about $35.00), but would recommend Merck Veterinary Manual. Has been years since I have seen a copy, but very good reference manual for all forms of procedures, dosages and such. It is available through most dog/cat or other animal related catalogs.

-- Lilly (homesteader145@yahoo.com), August 25, 1999.

Have no experience with porcupines and hope to never have any -- but, why not use ANBESOL to provide some oral pain relief when pulling quills? You know, that "tooth and gum pain" remedy sold over the counter in supermarkets and drug stores? Non toxic, Squirt some in dog's mouth (won't like the taste), wait a minute or two, and go to work with the pliers. An RN of my acquantaince said that he would use Anbesol on his pet's wounds before stitching them up -- reduced infection, too.

Anita E.

-- Anita Evangelista (ale@townsqr.com), August 25, 1999.

Just a few additional random thoughts:

I've heard that if you clip the quills, leaving an inch or two with which to get a grip on, the barbs relax somewhat, making them easier to pull. Furthermore, if you wait a day or two before attempting to pull them, the body begins to fester each quill in an attempt to reject it from the body and this also makes it easier to pull.

I would ask your vet if they could order you a pair of really nice heavy duty locking forceps to use to get a grip for pulling.

About anesthesia: There is no good self help solution to this one. Ketamine is a drug of abuse on the street where it is affectionately called "Special K" It also has just become a Scheduled drug, meaning there are now DEA hoops that a vet has to go through in order to obtain it. No vet is going to risk his license and career by dispensing this drug.

Most of the other anesthetics/tranquilizers are subject to the same on the street abuse and thus the same apprehension about them going out the door in untrained hands.

Get used to man handling animals. If y2k is the depression inducing event I expect, veterinary medicine as we know it, being totally dependant on people having disposable income, is going down the tubes.

-- Beth (bethkl19@idt.net), August 25, 1999.

We use ketamine on a regular basis at work, and I'd like to add a few cautions learned from experience:use in humans is generally limited to children, we are taught that adults have a serious side effect of terror like dreams often of a sexual nature, so other drugs are used on adults. The dosage rate of 1 to 2 mg/kg IV is correct, but hte IM dosage is truly much lower that that posted-2 to 4 mg per kg. I would never administer 10 mg/kg unless the pt. was monitored and on life support with an anesthesiologist in the room! I dont have any idea of the use in animals, but was told that ketamine was origionally developed as a veterinary anesthesia, if anyone does come up with a dosage rate for dogs or other homestead type critters I would love to see that. The rest of the description was accurate in my actual and frequent experience in the use of the drug, but I will mention that hte higher the dose, seems to correlate with length of sedation time and also with adverse side effects. A lower dose, repeated by 1/2 if the pt starts to arouse before the end of the procedure, seems to work well and have less side effects in my experience. This stuff is very tricky to use, and I wouldnt recommend by any means the use of it by an inexperienced person or without tools and equiptment to provide supportive care in case of respiratory problems, such as oxygen, an ambu bag, etc. Even in the hospital, we do occasionnally see side effects that could be fatal without these interventions. Warning mode off.

A low tech method of anesthesia, which can be useful in some situations on human or 4 footed companion is the common ice pack held in place until anesthesia is obtained (OK, I wouldnt want to take out an appendix like that, but to lance an abcess or even suture...it sure beats nothing)

Alcohol can be used on some critters with varying effects (LOL ask me about the pig reluctant to take the one-way ride in the trailer, the log chain and winch he broke and the desperate last ditch attempt to drug said hog into submission-they are very happy drunks, but noisy- and they metabolize the stuff FAST-the bruises are almost gone now, and the ER doc said the nerve damage in my hand may not be permanant-) they really like corn soaked in brandy, but prefer fuzzy navel wine coolers.My experience in that has taught me to titrate to effect with a much stronger dose of brandy-and to save some for myself!

-- LauraA (Laadedah@aol.com), August 25, 1999.

Thanks all. I find your contributions better than the parting words of the vet's assistant..."Better go on a hunt and kill that porcupine." I prefer not to kill something just because my dog(s) made an ass of itself.

-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), August 25, 1999.

Although I may have the information you're looking for, I am not going to give it because I don't believe an inexperienced person should get involved with such powerful substances. Contrary to what's been posted here, I have never seen ketamine given to animals intravenously. We only do it IM or SQ. Ketamine given by itself is also hardly ever done because the effects are not pleasant, some animals become extremely disoriented and even more aggressive, thrashing and banging themselves against things. Also, dosages are hard to calculate and are not the same as humans. I've seen same amounts do completely different things to same size dog. Respiratory failure is always a possibility.

Most importantly, it is correct that ketamine is now a popular street drug and is controlled tightly. You won't get it legally and if you're found with it in your possession, I would imagine they would treat it the same as heroin or cocaine.

Might I suggest you try some alternative products such as Rescue Remedy and valerian root. No, it's not going to anesthetize the dog, but it may very well make it more manageable. One other possibility is asking your ( or a) vet for a mild sedative (like a valium derivative). Most vets give these pills out frequently for dogs who may be travelling and don't do well. Perhaps suggest an upcoming airline flight for your dog? This is much safer and most dogs get quite sleepy and do very well. Again, always protect yourself by muzzling your dog, they're not in control when they're in pain.

Hope this helps.

-- dakota (none@thistime.com), August 25, 1999.

I agree with dakota about the trtanquilizers. I once gave some (which I got from a Vet) to a dog when I moved from Minnesota to Missouri because he would get motion sick. The dog was very "out of it."

-- David A Jones (jonesey@hotmail.com), August 25, 1999.

yes- I second what dakota has said- was going to recomend that myself. Ask your vet for a basic doggie sedative- just like for traveling or for vet visits- some dogs are so traumatized by going to the vet they need to be sedated first. this will make your pooch somewhat drowsy, dopey and loopey. then go to it- ice should help- also any kind of topical anesthetic as well- perhaps a spray on type used for sunburn and stuff? Ketamine is now a street drug- anesthesia in the hands of inexperienced people can be very dangerous. Even in the hands of experienced vets- animals are lost under anesthesia- been there and seen it- pooch will probably avoid that porcipine for now though if that is any consolation.

RE: vet med going down if y2k a problem- yes and no. traditionally, many med and vet bills were paid by barter- eggs, vegies, milk, whatever- no reason not to return to this honorable practice if times get tough and the green stuff not readily available- barter is king in my book.

-- farmer (hillsidefarm@drbs.com), August 25, 1999.

Yes Farmer, I like barter too. Though I do wonder how Merck, Novartis, Fort Dodge, Schering, Upjohn and all the other drug companies feel about it.

-- Beth (bethkl19@idt.net), August 26, 1999.

Thanks again! Is there an advantage to the vet tranquilizer versus say a shot of whiskey? Just wondering. I have Lidocaine spray, was worried about numbing the tongue area and having them swallow their tongue.

Talked to Fish and Game rep. at the fair yesterday, he said he tied a stick in their mouth, and that cutting the quills to let the air out first helped. He said one dog was so bad it had to go to the vet anyway. I hope the bartering is in effect in that case.

-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), August 26, 1999.

Also, what is Rescue Remedy and where is it sold?

-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), August 26, 1999.


Just last week our Norwegian Elkhound came home with a new set of 'whiskers' and a pathetic expression in his eyes. I pulled one with the pliers, but since I was alone, decided that me vs. dog might not come out so well.

Off to the vet! Their usual procedure is to give a general anethesia, keep the animal overnight, the whole nine yards ($$$$$!) But, this is farm country, and we'd just spent a small fortune repairing the other dogs' tangle with a donkey (don't ask), so she was willing to try the 'Real Man's Method'.

Two assistants, plus me, holding him steady while the vet did the deed.

We couldn't hold him still enough for the last one. Never saw it again, either. Guess it's gone somewhere, maybe it's still headed in and will eventually come out his ear???

Point is, I think (my Dad seconds this) that the misery of the no-med method was just the learning experience the dog needed. Dad says why in hell would you want the dog to FORGET what happened last time he tried to kiss a porcupine?

Good point? I was surprised 'Donkey Kong', as she is now referred to, didn't try the same thing. The two of them generally get into trouble together....

PS. We have used Orajel diluted in a small amount of warm water as a topical anesthetic for smaller wounds. Works well, and has been approved by our old-timey family doctor (for use on critters, that is). Worked very well on daughters' last splinter, made it so she'd hold still for me.

-- Arewyn (isitthatlate@lready.com), August 27, 1999.

Mumsie, most dogs will avoid a second confrontation with porcupines. Some breeds will keep on tangling with them until they kill one (or until the owner kills the dog) One species that has this reputation for repeat attacks is the German Shepherd (formerly called the "German Police Dog"

My son is a vet, Mumsie; I'll e him right now, and see what he has to say for himself. He's probably at work, so I'll get back to you when I hear from him.


PS Do you believe in dog population control? :)

-- Al K. Lloyd (al@ready.now), August 27, 1999.

My experience is that some dogs learn from this and some don't. I had one dog (a chow/lab cross)who got quilled 3 times in one month...he still went out of his way trying to find porcupines! (Eventually it was necessary to restrict his freedom). Have an Australian Shepherd that got it once, and never went after a porcupine again, and a Golden Retriever that did it twice, then never again.

For those of us who live with canine companions where there are plenty of quilled-a-beasts, this is an excellent question, Mumsie! I have stocked up on herbal sedatives for both human and canine use. A muzzle is a very prudent prep item. If your dog is not used to one now, maybe consider a gradual desensitization for practice, in case it ever becomes necessary for medical reasons.

-- RUOK (RUOK@yesiam.com), August 27, 1999.

ROFL Al!! Well, yes and no. We have a mother/daughter (part terrier, and they do hunt) pair, but that's it for their family tree, and arranged good homes for all offspring. Big Bouvier neutered, other big dog gets his come January unless things are really bad. Then we'll see. Cat is spayed. I have bred canaries and finches a few times, hope that doesn't count! And gulp...we have 53 chickens. Hoping to can some and barter some eggs later. Hoping for a Jersey or Guernsey next, and a couple of Saanens. Gotta put all my boys to work ya know! I appreciate your friendly post! Thank you very much!

-- Mumsie (Shezdremn@aol.com), August 28, 1999.

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