The dreaded “cone of shame,” aka the Elizabethan collar, E-collar or cone collar, has been fodder for many jokes since the hard plastic disc makes our dogs look like mini satellite dishes. While you can’t pick up your favorite television channel with it, the cone collar keeps your dog from irritating a sore or incision. When the vet sends your furry patient home with one, you may wonder if the collar should stay on all the time, including when your dog is sleeping.
Wearing the Collar
To keep your dog from licking or scratching at a surgical incision, hot spot or other irritation, he should wear the E-collar any time you can’t keep a close eye on him. He can wear it while eating, sleeping and going about his usual doggie activities.
Some dogs are so perturbed by the cone collar, however, that they refuse to eat or even move while wearing the collar. Sleeping may be difficult for him. Several days of discomfort from the E-collar are worth protecting your dog’s wound though. You don’t want him to infect the incision or need to be re-stitched. If your dog is refusing to eat or sleep while wearing the cone collar, you may want to look at several alternatives.
There are a variety of collars on the market that perform the same function of the traditional cone collar, but may be more comfortable for your furry patient. Cones made from cushioned material, inflatable or cloth discs and extra-wide neck collars similar to a neck brace are available in pet stores and online. All dogs respond differently to each style, so you may want to try several. If your dog seems mostly bothered by the lack of peripheral vision, some traditional style E-collars are now made from clear plastic.
Instead of A Collar
Sometimes simply covering the incision or sore spot with clothing works. You can use a doggie T-shirt if it covers the area or look at some special clothing lines made to cover wounds. A bandage covered with bitter apple spray may deter some dogs. Bandages come in a variety of materials that are water resistant and allow the wound to get air. These items are typically found online.
More Extreme Alternatives
If you don’t need much sleep, you can watch your dog 24/7 until he is healed or take turns with family members to keep an eye on him. In the most extreme cases, a veterinarian can sedate your dog and keep him under professional observation until his wound is healed.
By Jodi L. Hartley
MyPetsDoctor.com: Dogs with Cysts, Elizabethan Collars and Sutures
Whole Dog Journal: Comfortable Dog Cone Alternatives
Dog Aware: Caring for Dogs Before and After Surgery
Vet Street: The Dreaded E-Collar: Why It's Your Best Bet for Wound Care
About the Author
Jodi L. Hartley has been a writer and public relations professional since 1992. Her experience includes public relations and marketing for a pet service/retail business, as well as volunteer work with animal rescue organizations. Hartley holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and an M.B.A.