Dog Alternatives to the Cone of Shame

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:

Dog in a cone recovering from surgery

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.

Alternatives to the dog cone of shame

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.

Cover Me By Tui instead of E collar

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:

Alternative to the E collar for dogsRear view of Suitical on Cocker Spaniel

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.

Dog Comfy Cone

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:

Bottom Line

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:

Dog with lump on face

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.

Dogs in clothes
Coco and Dex in their finest ap-paw-rel

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.

Save

Save

Comments

  1. That Suitical is really interesting! We’ve never had much luck with regular e-collars. I used the Bite-Not collar when Zeus had his TPLO surgery and it worked for a bit, but then my Hoodini figured out how to get it off – completely unsure how, given that there’s a strap that goes around the belly and all.

  2. I hadn’t heard of some of these! The pajamas are adorable. If Henry needs surgery, I’ll definitely look into some of these options because I know he won’t be into a traditional e-collar.

    This post reminds me of a story from when my father was a boy: their family dog required surgery and wore an e-collar for a few days after. Their neighbor, after seeing the dog in the yard, frantically ran up to the house yelling “He’s got a bucket on his head!” in her strong Irish accent. She was glad to learn that everything was ok!

  3. I wasn’t aware of any of these alternatives. In the past I’ve never been able to get any of my dog’s to keep a cone on. My chi is having her spay surgery her soon, hopefully she will do okay with the collar.

  4. Fortunately, we haven’t had to use a cone of shame with Ruby. However, I am glad to know about these alternatives as I know an e-collar would completely freak her out and fear she would hurt herself trying to get it off.

  5. We’ve used a soft cone many times. It’s so much nicer than the plastic. I wish pets would just cooperate so they wouldn’t need any extra protection!

  6. We have only ever used an e-collar with our dog (and cats), but I definitely would look into alternatives if we ever have to use one again, which of course I’m hoping not! I think Eddie would definitely tolerate the Cover Me. And he would look so cute!

    • Be cautious with that, as they can strangle or suffocate dogs, especially when punctured, Ruth and Layla.

  7. I have had to use the traditional cone on Kilo on his three vet visits to stop him biting anyone. He can not wear a muzzle and it really helped. No one got hurt and he got the treatment he needed, (in one case emergency). He is not keen on clothes but I would definitely investigate those comfy-looking PJs if he had stitches or anything.

  8. oh the famous t-shirt is making its debut in our house right now, my old girl Sheba has a mass removed from her side and has to wear a shirt cause even though she cant lick it with the cone of shame on her head she can still itch it with her rear paw. But if she is wearing her shirt she wont touch it!

    • OOOH I like hearing stories like this, Kerri. Some dogs are interesting in that they won’t touch a wound when a shirt is on. Hope all is well with Sheba.

  9. The cone of shame is a horrible contraption. With Jasmine and Cookie we were fortunate that we got away without needing one, including after any of their surgeries. JD, he’s obsessive and had to have one but he got around it anyway. We did have the soft cone but he stuck his leg right into it. More importantly, from an observation I think that the downside of that one is that it extremely limits visibility. While the classic cone of shame is “see through”, with the comfy cone the dog can see only ahead and nowhere else. I think that is another problem all together.

    • The dog parent needs to use whatever is comfortable and helps the dog recover so that they do not cause irritation to the wound.

    • Yeah it’s one thing or another – we have had luck with our work arounds and none of our dogs ever needed an E-collar.

  10. These are great alternatives to the Cone of Shame, thanks for sharing. I’ve had pets who have worn the cone, it’s nice to know that there are some good alternatives that make them less uncomfortable and may even be safer.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  11. I’ve seen the comfy cones which I think are a great alternative, the e-collars are the worst. I hate using them when I leave the house as it’s so hard for them to get around furniture and the other dogs. It actually scares Sherm when Bruiser has one on and I’m so glad there are alternatives. What I hadn’t seen was Cover me by Tui! Such a great idea for post surgical cases.

    • I worry, too, about some options I have seen – some of them are dangerous. That bumping into stuff with the Ecollar can’t be fun.

  12. Luckily, my kitties have never required an e-collar. The only surgeries I’ve had done on them have been spay/neuter, which don’t always require an e-collar for cats. I think that what I would choose to use would really depend on the particular injury. I love the idea of using t-shirts/clothing for body wounds. Whatever is the least restrictive and most accepted by the pet is the best in my mind.

  13. If you need something to keep a pup from nibling or niggling I can see a LOT of benefits in the garments you have recommended here. Sometimes a dog an look cute (an added bonus for a worried dog mum?) Othertimes it is a scary necessity. The 10 days kitty Harvey had to wear an Elizabethan collar were the longest 10 days of MY life as I worried and he got on with coping.

    • It really is a nightmare that stinkin cone and I know sometimes it is so necessary. I look for other options and wow the surprises I found. 🙂

  14. I love these alternatives to the plastic ‘lampshade.’ Henry is really struggling with his allergies right now so is wearing a cotton t-shirt to limit ‘chewing/scratching.’ He has a few. After one becomes grungy with coconut oil (we apply to soothe the itches), we throw it in the wash and grab another tee.

  15. I love this! When Rugby had to have a small growth removed on his shoulder, I was able to just place a t-shirt on him to keep him from licking or chewing. If it had been at the back end, keeping him away from it would have been challenging! This is great information and hopefully will be a really wonderful solution to the cone of shame!!

  16. Sophie had a soft cone after her spay surgery and it was great for her. She looked a little bit like a flower and it was much more comfortable than the traditional cone. The cover me might be great for Nelly who is experiencing an allergy flare up.

  17. Thanks for sharing these alternatives! Our little Kai recently had to have a torn nail looked after; such a to-do over such a “small” thing! The vet presented us with a plastic cone as a preventative measure, but Kai-Kai felt so incredibly miserable after everything he went through that there was no way I was going to put his head in a cone if I could possibly help it; I knew that it would make his misery ten times worse. Thankfully he didn’t go after his wound too much and listened every time I asked him to leave his paw alone. It’s good to know that there are other options besides “the cone!”

  18. I am for anything that will make my pups more comfortable during an already uncomfortable time. I have not had to use anything yet, but my male pup faces having his testicles cut out because they did not drop (he is now a fews days from being a yr old). I will be looking into that suit!!

    • We really did good with the Cover Me by Tui – and it is so soft and washes well. Hope your dog is okay, Ann.

  19. We’ve used E-collars for three out of our four pets. When our two cats had surgery, we tried the soft E-collars (we also tried a self made sweater for one of them). They did not work and they were able to fold them to get to their sutures. Now it’s hard plastic E-collars for everyone in our house when they need it. Lesson learned lol.

  20. i have a soft collar that i use when necessary. however, my dog breeder told me abt using a paper plate and cutting out the middle, then staple it around their neck. this is for small dogs. it works great and they can eat better and move around much better with the paper plate. you just cut out the middle and wrap it around and staple. i put tape over the staples. you can put on a new one everyday.

  21. My dog has never had surgery for which I am so grateful. Thanks for sharing all of your alternatives to the hard neck cone. I have seen friend’s pets looking so miserable having to wear one of the hard cones.

  22. My poor dog could have died from his plastic e collar. My English bulldog has been dealing with eye issues for about a year now. He’s had his entropian eyelids fixed along with a recent surgery to repair a deep ulcer. I am using the comfy cone for this past surgery (4weeks) in the cone, because something awful happened to him in his regular plastic e collar.

    A few months ago when he had a different ulcer healing from dry eye, he was given meds and a cone to wear while it healed. He had been used to the cone for a few days at this point and when we were home, he would always be monitored right near us with his cone on, and in his kennel when we were at work. I left the room one night to do something for about a minute and I heard my dog gasping for air and I ran to him as he was running to me. Somehow His cone got bent and was sticking into his trachea and cutting off his airway. Luckily i was home and was able to remove it quickly, because my dog would have suffocated and died if I wasn’t. It was so scary for both me and my pup. I’m not exactly sure how he managed to bend it, he may have walked into a wall or the end of the couch after I left the room for that minute, Who knows. All I know if that he will never again wear a regular plastic Elizabethan collar. This comfy cone is a miracle to me currently as he is now healing from his second surgery and has to wear it for 4 weeks. Just beware of the potential dangers of the plastic cones. It may have been a total freak accident that happened to my dog because I have never heard of that happening either. I just don’t want it happening to anyone else’s little friend.

  23. My dog J.R. had to sport a cone for the first couple of weeks after I adopted him and April. Usual pitfalls as you wrote in your post. Some pet care clients have used the soft cones, they work better, but some dogs are still freaked out by them. I’ve seen the shirts you wrote above and have wondered if they work well. My dogs like to tear up clothing, material, etc. so I don’t know if it would work for them, I definitely like the idea as an alternative to the “Cone of Shame”

Leave a Reply to Tenacious Little Terrier Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *