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Posted on 06-18-2015

How to Remove Cactus Needles from Your Pet?

We live in the desert where everywhere you turn you see another cactus of a different species. Tall, short, fat, prickly, flowery, there are over 20 types of cacti here in the Valley. We can't name them all, but we can tell you how to take those painful needles out of your pet.

When in doubt, always consult your veterinarian. These are just some tips that can help if you are able to do this on your own.

Tools for Safe Removal

A stuck cactus needle should be treated as a puncture wound. As the needles enter the skin, they create an opening for bacteria. Before you start the removal process (if doing it yourself), have some antibiotic ointment on hand along with your removal tool of choice. Most use tweezers.

Start with a coarse comb to remove loose needles, but watch out — blood may spurt out of the entry point, so keep a styptic stick (anti-hemorrhagic agent) and gauze on hand.

Removing Cactus Needles From Your Dog

Your pet may try to remove the needles with their mouth or by kicking their legs. Be careful — the needles can also become dislodged and stick into your skin. Try to keep your pet calm and steady.

Get someone to help you — as it will make it easier to remove the needles. Your pet may also salivate or foam at the mouth if needles have penetrated that area.

Use the comb to remove any loose needles from the dog’s fur. Remove individual needles that remain with tweezers or forceps by pulling in the direction of the fur growth. For needles stuck at a sharp angle against the direction of the fur, remove these as gently as possible in the direction at which they’re stuck.

Cactus Needles in a Dog’s Eye

If your dog was unfortunate enough to get a cactus needle in the eye, it’s best to leave removal to the professionals. Not all eye punctures require surgery, but visible needles and even micro needles may be present in the eye and require extreme care upon removal.

Some needles may not need to be removed, but this should be determined by your veterinarian. Cactus needles are usually removed from dogs under general anesthesia; reconstructive surgery or grafts may also be necessary. Please consult with your local Phoenix veterinarian before you do anything on your own.

After removal and/or treatment, check the entry points for infection and apply antibiotic ointment as needed. If the area becomes swollen, discharges or does not improve, make an appointment to see your vet immediately. Call us at 602-559-5500 to talk about removal of cactus needles.


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