When fitting a dog cone, make sure you can fit two fingers between the edge of the collar and your dog’s neck while fitting tightly enough that your dog cannot remove it. Attaching the plastic cone to your dog’s regular collar can help achieve a secure fit.
No dog loves the aptly named “cone of shame”. Large, plastic cones, known as “Elizabethan collars” or “e-collars”, are an essential tool to prevent a dog from accessing a wound, allowing it to heal. Regardless of your dog’s complaints, he should wear a properly fitted e-collar at all times during recovery.
Fitting The Dog Cone
The e-collar should extend just past the tip of your dog’s nose, blocking access to his body. If your dog’s wound is on his feet or the tip of his tail, you will probably need an even longer cone.
Confirm that the cone does not have any sharp or hard edges pressing into your dog’s neck. Keep an eye out for chafing around the neck and shoulders. You can line the inside edge of the cone with something soft if your dog is uncomfortable.
Keep the Cone On
Your dog will do everything in his power to convince you he needs the cone removed. He may act depressed, refuse to move, bash the cone into furniture, or throw a tantrum.
Even though the cone is constructed to allow for full mobility, clever dogs will pretend that they cannot eat or drink with it on.
Check on your dog regularly to make sure he isn’t stuck on anything or harming himself in an attempt to remove the cone.
It may be tempting to take the cone off and give your dog a break, but it is actually easier for a dog to adapt to his cone if he wears it all the time, during every type of activity.
Try not to give in to your dog’s protests. There have been cases where dogs have killed themselves after a simple spay or neuter because they were allowed access to the surgery site.
If your dog is continues to have trouble eating, you can prop his bowl up on a small stack of books. If you absolutely must remove the cone from your dog, supervise him constantly and put it back on as soon as you can. Even a brief lapse in attention can cause significant harm.
Taking a Walk With the Cone
Walking your dog with a cone on can be a challenge. E-collars can compromise your dog’s vision and mess with its hearing, causing him to be anxious and vulnerable.
Walk him in a quiet, familiar area close to home. If you see other people or dogs, try to avoid them and protect your dog from a major scare.
Remember, he cannot perceive things approaching from the side or back and he may be more irritable than usual.
It’s possible to walk your dog without the cone, but take great caution. Consider using an alternative, smaller cone like the ones listed later in this article while taking walks.
Keep a close eye on your dog’s wound. Ensure he can’t access it and keep him from being too active. If your dog is on strong pain medication, consider taking brief walks or skipping the walks until he is entirely in control of his faculties.
E-Collar and Cone Alternatives
There are quite a few alternatives to cones that appear to be more comfortable for your dog. The big thing to keep in mind when evaluating these alternatives is they all have pros and cons.
The original e-collar design is uncomfortable but very safe and effective. It would be unfortunate to choose a more comfortable design, only to discover that it did not protect your pet adequately.
It is only recommended to find an e-collar alternative if your dog has unique physical needs or strong psychological trauma triggered by the cone.
It’s popular on social media to show dogs wearing pajamas, T-shirts, or jackets to protect a wound. If you don’t have any other option to protect a wound, this option is better than nothing. However, it is possibly the worst option compared to any other type of cone or protective collar.
These “shirts” are only appropriate for wounds on the back or stomach. Wounds on the legs, paws, and tail are exposed.
They do not restrict your dog’s movement, so your dog will still be able to access the surgery site, leaving only a small piece of cloth between his teeth and the wound.
Most dog owners can attest that a layer of cloth isn’t much of a deterrent to an irritated dog. If you have to use a shirt on your pet, supervise him regularly to make sure he isn’t biting through the fabric.
The most common direct alternative to a plastic, see-through e-collar is a soft cloth collar in the same shape.
This can be more comfortable for your dog and will prevent chafing. One downside of this type of cone is that it completely blocks your dog’s peripheral vision. This can cause a lot of stress for some dogs, especially in a busy household with children or other pets.
Your dog may also be able to squish and manipulate the cloth more easily than plastic to reach the wound. Supervise your dog closely with a cloth collar.
Another popular e-collar alternative is a thick ring that looks like a donut or travel pillow around your dog’s neck. Be realistic about your dog’s flexibility before trying one of these, as they don’t block your dog’s mouth like a tall cone. They work best for wounds on the front half of your dog’s torso, rather than leg, feet, or butt wounds. They also don’t protect face wounds from your dog’s paws.
Some donut-shaped collars are inflatable. It is common for these collars to deflate slightly throughout the day, giving your dog greater access to his wounds.
Keep a close eye on your dog throughout the day, regardless of what collar you have chosen. Dogs are incredibly clever and, if determined, will find unique ways to get around their collar.
Standard e-collars or e-collars with cloth padding at the base can be found in most pet stores, along with e-collar alternatives.
Go shopping before your dog’s surgery if possible and bring your dog along to try on the options. This will allow you to get a perfect fit and gauge your dog’s reaction to each cone style.
As long as you plan to closely supervise your dog throughout recovery, you can pick out the style that your dog seems most comfortable with.
If your dog was wounded in an emergency or you didn’t get a chance to buy a cone in advance, you can usually buy a standard e-collar directly from your vet. The staff should be happy to help you choose the correct size of cone and achieve the best fit.
Dog’s Live in The Moment
The time after your dog’s surgery can feel interminable, and your dog will probably complain and struggle with the cone. Remember, dogs live in the moment, so your puppy friend will not form significant trauma or resentment around the cone if it is used correctly. Supervising your dog carefully and keeping the cone on at all times can protect your dog’s health and keep him safe.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.