At some point or another in the life of most dogs, a minor to major surgical procedure will take place. The cone of shame is a go-to apparatus for most veterinarians; after all, it’s what they were taught in veterinary school to put on a dog to prevent licking, infection, or otherwise scratching at a wound that needs to heal. Dog alternatives to the cone of shame do exist.
That was then and this is now.
There is still a time and a place for an Elizabethan collar (E-collar/cone) that looks like this:
Why E-Collars Can Cause More Harm Than Good
Dogs are slick: They will spend hours trying to get something off, especially if you are not home or otherwise distracted. Fidose of Reality readers over the years have shared stories of dogs who:
- Get very emotionally depressed, howl, or spin in circles/become neurotic when the E-collar is worn.
- Knock items off furniture and can end up breaking things and actually hurting themselves.
- Damage the cone by rubbing it against something or slamming into an object with enough force to bust the cone.
When and Why I Skipped the E-Collar
My dog, Dexter, has undergone two leg surgeries in the past, both to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligment (ACL). On discharge from the veterinary hospital, it was advised by my dog’s surgeon that he wear an e-collar: that lampshade-looking thing dogs across the world often wear to prevent them from licking a wound or bothering sutures/staples. I knew Dexter would be more depressed wearing that cone than the actual surgical process itself.
After exploring other options, I stumbled on something from the company, Tulane’s Closet, called Cover Me by Tui. This is a post-surgical pet garment that comes in a range of colors, options and sizes to fit any dog’s needs. It prevents licking & chewing at surgical sutures and hot spots and is breathable, washable, has a potty flap.
I had the pleasure of meeting CEO and inventor of this product, Stephanie Syberg, recently. This product has changed our lives. I told Stephanie we use it for a variety of things now and how pet parents need to know about it. So here we go.
Rather than tell you how fantastic this item of clothing is for dogs (and cats!), check this video out and then keep reading.
Of course, there are other options as well, and depending on the nature of your dog’s injury, the Cover Me by Tui may not be conducive to all situations.
Suit Them Up
I recently learned about Suitical from my veterinary technician friend, Kim Kiernan. Kim is using the Suitical on her Cocker Spaniel, Poppy, as the dog recovers from multiple growth removal surgery. One of her incisions is across her chest.
Suitical products act as a second skin, which the company says allows dog to enjoy their day with little anxiety or disruption.
“The recovery sleeve nicely covers her chest incision and at night I’m just putting a t-shirt on her for warmth,” Kiernan says.
The breathable fabric enables air to circulate around the wound for healing, and it fully covers the affected areas to prevent biting and scratching. Covered areas are also kept dry and clean, preventing bacteria and dirt from causing infection.
Here’s Poppy recovering in the Suitcal:
What About Wounds from The Neck Up
Ah, the ear, eye, face, head, or mouth injuries. While attending the Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Florida, I discovered the Comfy Cone from All Four Paws.
Of note is the e-collar design that conforms to doorways so dogs don’t get stuck. It also is water resistant, and there are removable “stays” so that there is more structure when needed. The reflective stripes are good for night walks, too. I know eye surgeries are common in the Cocker Spaniel, and for any dog who has surgery that requires a cone, this cone is pretty darned cool.
There are many soft collars on the market for dogs, but if my dog were to have an injury or require limited contact with anything from the neck up, the Comfy Cone is a definite for us. Some of the features that stand out:
- Water resistant and repellent-easy to wipe clean
- Removable stays for more structure when needed
- Thread pet’s personal collar through elastic loops to keep secure
- Reflective binding for safety when out of doors.
- Collar folds back so the dog can eat and drink (LOVE this feature)
- Collar direction can be reversed for shoulder or upper back injuries, as well as IV lines
- Vet tested and recommended
Note: The dog’s peripheral vision is null and void when wearing the Comfy Cone. Though unlikely, dogs can manage to get any sort of collar off. Heck, I know of dogs who were able to get themselves undressed and out of a onesie.
Products That Make Me Nervous
Some alternatives to E-collars require the dog parent to inflate them. In particular, these make me nervous because if a dog struggles to get out or it starts deflating, dogs may have trouble breathing or even suffocate.
Important note: only inflate the product about halfway to prevent trouble breathing or suffocation. Here is how to put the Comfy Cone on:
I am not totally anti E-collar; I am, however, pro-dog and what is in his or her best interest. For example, my dog’s brother, Ricky, recently had a growth removed from an area near his nose:
The lump ended up benign, and Ricky was sent home with dissolvable stitches and an E-collar. For some reason, he mostly ignored the wound, not trying to rub it on furniture. If all else fails and the dog must wear a traditional cone, make it a very happy experience. If you had to wear a lampshade for days at a time, you wouldn’t be so happy either. Even with traditional E-collars, some dogs are persistent and manage to get the collar off and even reach the wound area with the E-collar on.
Each dog, like each person, is different: You must watch your dog closely until he or she learns to accept the collar. If there is way more discomfort and distress with the collar on than not, then a backup option should be instituted. I knew a dog who refused to eat or drink with the traditional E-collar on. As soon as her mom switched to a onesie, the dog’s appetite and thirst returned.
Who’s Laughing Now?
Sometimes I take flack for allowing my dog to wear clothes from time to time. Mostly, he wears clothes for warmth, but he does have a wardrobe for appearances, events, and functions. When it came time for my dog to wear a doggie pajama (Cover Me By Tui), he had zero problems adjusting. It was just another piece of clothes to wear.
Have you ever used an E-collar or an alternative to one on your pet? Do tell in the comments below.
(note: We were not compensated to tell you any of this. We share with Fidose of Reality readers items and advice we feel are of interest to dog lovers of the highest order.