Seeing a dog with an Elizabethan collar, or a cone on, can feel like a sad sight. The plastic cone is designed to prevent chewing and licking, and your dog will likely be sent home wearing one if they have undergone a surgery or have a wound. Keeping your dog from licking or chewing, especially if they have stitches, is crucial to the healing process. It may not look comfortable, but yes, your dog can sleep, eat, walk, and poop and pee with their dog cone on, and the more they wear it, the better.
Why use an Elizabethan collar?
These dog cones were created as a means to keep animals from licking or chewing on their wounds. Some are inflatable rings while others look like lampshades that are attached with velcro. People often call it "the cone of shame" but veterinarians call it an Elizabethan collar due to its resemblance to fashionable collars of the era of Queen Elizabeth. But in truth, there's no shame in wearing the dog cone.
The Pet Health Network says wearing dog cones are essential for a quicker healing process and better healing of a surgical site or injury. Leaving your dog cone on all the time is the best way for your dog to get used to it. If you use it then take it off at seemingly random times, your dog may view it as punishment.
Problems with a dog cone?
Wearing a plastic cone can make everyday tasks like eating, drinking and sleeping a little more difficult temporarily. But East Valley Animal Hospital says there are things you can do to help. First, make sure the cone fits well so they can't wiggle out of it or get it caught on something (if they do catch it on something, the velcro will open, so it's safe).
Your dog won't be used to the bigger size of their head with the cone on, so gently guide them if they need help walking through a doorway or eating (yeah, it's gonna be messy during this period!). If exercise is safe for your dog, take your dog on extra long walks. If your dog is worn out, they will be less likely to obsess over their collar.
Try a dog cone alternative
Most dogs can manage with the extra nuisance of a plastic cone on their head for the time they are required to wear it. But you can always try a cone alternative if it's just not working. Most dog cones are hard plastic, but some are soft fabric. Purina explains that this cone alternative is best for dogs who aren't too active. These soft cones are also not transparent, so they can be more difficult for dogs who get nervous easily.
An inflatable collar is like a neck pillow. This collar makes it easier to eat and drink, but your dog could still access their wounded area, so this is not a great choice for constant wear. If your dog has an upper body injury, this could work by giving them more freedom of movement but still restricting their access to the wound site. Bodysuits and t-shirts are the closest thing to nor wearing a dog cone at all. The fabric snuggly covers their whole body to prevent them from licking and chewing.
No dog owner wants to see their dog have to live with a cone on for very long, but yes, your dog can sleep with a cone on. The cone does interfere with eating and drinking, and it can make them more uncomfortable when sleeping. It will take a while for your dog to get used to the plastic cone, and it can be sad to watch them run into things or have the cone get in the way of the food bowl. Bottom line, wearing a dog cone is crucial to the healing process for dogs because it prevents them from licking and chewing on a wound. If your dog really hates the cone, try a cone alternative such as a bodysuit that allows them to sleep better.