Any kind of post-surgery recovery for dogs, like wearing a cone, can be a stressful and overwhelming process for both the dog and the owner.
As a dog owner myself, I know how challenging it can be to look past the sad puppy eyes, and stick to doing what is necessary to ensure a complete safe recovery for our best friend.
Since your dog may have to wear a cone at some point, either due to neutering, or spaying, or some kind of injury – I have put together a piece that tells you everything you need to know about the infamous ‘cone of shame’.
What Is The Dog Cone (AKA Elizabethan collar!)?
The dog cone is officially referred to as the Elizabethan collar, named after the high collars worn during Elizabeth times. If that doesn’t tickle you already, its also humorously referred to as lamp-shade, dog-saver or pet radar dish. Whatever the name, the main purpose of this medical device is to protect the dog through prevention of biting, or licking, or scratching its body or head while wounds or injuries heal.
The cone is usually attached to the dog’s collar with either strings or tabs that pass-through holes punched in the sides of the plastic. It is important that the neck of the collar remain short enough to allow the dog to eat and drink.
Usually, most dog’s adjust to the dog cone quite well in a days’ time. In other cases, the owner may require to remove the collar during meal times.
There are a wide range of purpose-made collars that can be purchased at pet stores. If you are looking for an inexpensive option and are crafty, you can make one yourself using plastic and cardboard or by tweaking flowerpots, wastebaskets, buckets or lampshades.
Safety and comfort being the highest priority, you can lace the collar with a soft fabric trim along the edges of your customized cone.
How Long Dogs Should Wear the Cone
The cone must be on your dog for as long as they are in the healing process. Your vet would usually give a timeline according to the condition the dog is healing from. Usually, a post-surgery recover time would be about 10 – 12 days. It is important that the cone be present on your dog for the entire time, especially if you aren’t around to keep an eye on her.
In case you are around your dog, you may choose to take off the cone for a little during activities like walking your dog or eating. It is crucial that your attention is on ensuring they do not make contact with their wound/infected area. The worst thing would be to have any further complications that may require to extend the cone time.
The cone can be periodically wiper down with soap water to avoid any funky smells. It would be best to consult your vet to get the “Everything is healed!” signal, before permanently removing the cone.
What If Your Dog Doesn’t Lay Down With The Cone On?
The sheer experience of visiting the vet and leaving with a large cone around the head can cause some dogs to be quite distressed. Some dogs may even refuse to lay down with a cone on. Here are some tips that you can try to help get them into, for a comfortable night’s sleep –
Softening The Cone
The cone can be rolled and folded for a little while to remove its stiffness. Cones are usually designed to be quite flexible, so bending the plastic shouldn’t be a problem.
You could move the dog’s bed to a corner and provide pillows or cushions to make it cozier. If your dog is quite furry, he may prefer a spot under the fan or by the window. The idea is to have his sleeping spot feel as secure as possible for him to sleep with a cone on.
Ensure that the cone isn’t put just to fit around the collar. There needs to be a two-digit gap under the cone. This will allow a little room for them to place their heads on the floor with the cone when they are laying down.
Give Him Company
You could allow your dog onto your bed with you. It will definitely help them feel secure when the cone is on them. This could be tried if all else fails, as you would require to be more vigilant through the night – not mistakenly touching the healing area yourself.
H5: Seven Alternatives to The Cone of Shame
In case none of the previous tips worked, you could try using an alternative to the dog cone. Below is a list of seven such alternatives with their specific features and applicability. All the options have certain benefits for specific cases. It would be best to consult your vet to find the perfect fit for your dog, before making your final decision…
The BiteNot Collar
- Closely resembles a neck brace
- Caters to healing requirement on the upper extremities
- Made using flexible plastic and foam
- Machine washable and has a harness strap to ensure it stays on the dog
The ProCollar Premium Protective Collar
- Closely resembles an airplane neck pillow
- Caters to healing requirement on the upper extremities
- Made material that can deflate through the day, ideal for less active dogs
- Comes in soft material, cannot be washed and dried in a quick span of time
Kong EZ Soft Collar
- Similar shape and function to the cone collar
- Caters to healing requirement to all extremities
- Had adjustable featuring using a drawstring
- Machine washable
- Using alternative material – a combination of nylon and foam, possibly too flexible
- Caters to healing requirements to all extremities
- Has “stays” feature that allows (supervised) freedom for activities such as eating/drinking
- Dog’s cannot see through the device material, possible inconvenience
- Inflatable device, mainly for small dogs with well-groomed nails
- Caters to partial healing requirement to upper extremities
- The lightweight Velcro strap device allows peripheral vision to avoid accidents
- Needs supervision to ensure the cone doesn’t pop; doesn’t come with a patch kit
Optivisor or Novaguard
- Mask-type protection style
- Catering to specific injuries and issues on face and head area of the dog
- Can be especially beneficial to blind dogs prone to bumping into objects
- Ideal for hearing and visibility as a high priority
TCOA Soft E-Fabric Collar
- Similar to dog cone, except made with soft lightweight water-resistant fabric material
- Catering to relaxed dogs with injuries on back or upper extremities
- Is tied with a smooth fabric ribbon requiring a double knot on the collar to stay on
- Extremely flexible and can require supervision to not allow it to flip over
I understand how difficult it may be to witness the discomfort your dog may be going through, but it is important to ensure that the cone stays on they are completely healed. I promise you that your dog will not hold it against you and will very quickly forget once they up and about!
Hope this article has helped you navigate through your dog cone questions. Please feel free to leave your comments below!