9 Best Dog Recovery Cone Soft Cones & Inflatable Collars 2021
It’s inevitable. Your dog will likely need to wear an Elizabethan collar—also called the E-collar or the “dog cone of shame”—at some point in her life. As funny as they look, dog cones serve an important purpose, especially when your pup is healing from an injury. Here’s what you need to know about these kooky but critical health accessories.
Why Dogs Need to Wear Cones
“We put cones on animals to prevent them from chewing or scratching at an incision or a spot on them that we are trying to get to heal,” says Sara Ochoa, DVM, at Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital in Whitehouse, Texas. “Cones are important to keep your pet from causing any problems with their skin or surgical site. Some pets will easily make things much worse for them and even remove stitches from a surgical site causing major complications.”
The cone acts as a physical barrier to prevent them from licking or tearing at their wounds. Besides surgery, Ochoa says if the dog is scratching or itching excessively at a specific spot, she’ll put a cone on the dog to prevent that.
Cone sizes vary based on the size and face shape of the dog. “You want it to extend out 3–4 inches beyond the tip of their nose,” Ochoa says. “Pugs could actually have one that’s smaller than a dog that’s even their same size just because their faces are so small. And then you get a Doberman with a really, really long nose. They have to have one that’s even longer than a lab needs.”
How to Prep for Cone Wearing
You can pick up a dog cone at your vet’s office before the surgery and let your dog adjust to it. Ochoa says it will take about two to three days for the dog to adjust to wearing one. When your dog is wearing it, give them treats to create a positive association. And take your time.
“Be patient with them,” Ochoa says. “They get there. But it takes a while.”
Ochoa also suggests prepping your space for a cone-wearing canine. Even the most well-behaved dog could wreak havoc at home wearing a cone. “I’ve had dogs break lamps,” Ochoa says. Before your dog arrives home, make sure you don’t have valuables or fragile items that could be hit by the cone.
How Long Dogs Should Wear the Cone
A cone should stay on for about a week while your dog is healing. “Usually about seven to 10 days is all you need,” Ochoa says. The cone needs to stay on the entire time the dog is healing, especially if you won’t be around to watch her. You can consider taking the cone off during walks, or try using a longer leash until the dog becomes spatially aware of what’s around them while wearing the cone.
Before you stop using a cone, check in with your veterinarian that it’s ok to do so. “Make sure everything’s healed,” Ochoa says. Note: The cone is on long enough that you’ll need to do a little care and cleaning of it. Use soap and water on a rag to periodically wipe it down to avoid funky smells.
How to Put the Cone Back On
If you do take the cone off for walks, you’ll need to know how to get it back on her when you’re done. Here are Ochoa’s steps to put a dog cones on securely:
- Untie the strings holding it together.
- Put the cone over the head like you would if you were putting on a shirt.
- Check that your dogs’ ears are inside the cone.
- When you tighten the cone, you want to make sure two to three fingers can fit between the rim and your dog’s neck. The cone should be tight enough to stay on without causing the dog discomfort.
Alternatives to the Plastic Dog Cone
“If your dog has anxiety or is jumpy or doesn’t do well with people rubbing their face, it’s probably best to look at those alternatives, and ask your vet if they have any options,” Ochoa says.
Ochoa has seen dogs repeatedly run into walls and tables in an effort to break their cones and ultimately escape them. If your dog doesn’t like the feel of a plastic cone, here are some dog cone alternatives:
How to make dog cone more comfortable
It’s never fun watching your pup recover from surgery or a wound. It’s even worse if they just hate their cone. The most important thing is making sure the cone fits properly. Your dog will be uncomfortable if it’s too tight, but the cone won’t do its job if it’s too loose.
To reduce stress after a surgery or injury, you might consider a calming patch. The one below combines essential oils and can help minimize anxiety after surgery. As of publishing, it costs $12.99.
1. Calm Paws Dog Caring Collar
Calm Paws Caring Collar combines a soft, fuzzy inner layer with a more durable outer layer. Velcro straps let you adjust the fit so that it’s snug and secure. As of publishing, these E-collars are priced between $20.64 and $23.96, depending on size.
- No-fuss, fixed elastic loops
- Patented “Easy Feed” feature
2. GoodBoy Inflatable Donut Collar
This alternative to a traditional dog cone is made with cozy fleece material. As of publishing, GoodBoy inflatable donut collars are priced between $15.49 and $16.99, depending on size.
- Adjustable neck size
- Warranty covers chew damage
3. ARRR Dog Comfy Cone
The UFO-inspired design is made with soft and flexible fabrics. There’s foam on the inside, so it doesn’t require inflating. It’s a good pick for dogs who are sensitive to noises. As of publishing, Comfy Cones are priced between $22.99 and $26.98, depending on size.
- Soft recovery collar
4. Depets Recovery Collar
Depets adjustable collar is affordable and multifunctional. We like that it’s designed with breathable, lightweight PVC plus flannel material. As of publishing, Depets cones are priced between $4.99 and $7.99, depending on size.
- Secured by velcro
- Use for beauty or medical care
5. All Four Paws Comfy Cone
This E-collar combines All Four’s patented nylon fabric with a half-inch of foam. It’s designed to allow dogs to comfortably eat and drink while wearing it. As of publishing, Comfy Cone E-collars are priced between $11.15 and $23.99, depending on size.
- Adjustable fit
- Includes reflective binding
6. Alfie Pet Zumi Soft Edge
This dog cone is lightweight, comfortable and cute. We like that the padded edges are trimmed with gingham-print fabric. As of publishing, this Alfie recovery cone is priced between $10.99 and $15.99, depending on size.
- Sturdy yet flexible PVC material
- Available in blue and red
7. Vivifying Pet Cone, Adjustable Lightweight Elizabethan Collar
For an affordable alternative to hard plastic cones, the Vivifying Elizabethan collar combines lightweight PVD material with soft flannel rims. As of publishing, this collar comes in one size and costs $8.89.
- Suitable for small dogs and puppies
- Available in pink and blue
7 Alternatives to the “Cone of Shame”
- The BiteNot Collar. This device does not represent the shape of a cat or dog cone at all; it most resembles a neck brace. …
- The collar Premium Protective Collar. …
- Kong EZ Soft Collar. …
- Comfy Collar. …
- The Boobooloon. …
- Optivisor or Novaguard. …
- TCOA Soft E-Fabric Collar.
What is the cone on dogs for?
An Elizabethan collar (also known as an E-collar or the cone of shame) is plastic or fabric hoods or cones placed around the head to prevent an animal from licking at a surgery site, wound, or dressing.
Can a dog sleep with a cone on?
Yes – dogs can sleep, eat, drink, pee, and poop with a cone on. In fact, the stricter you are with the cone (officially called an Elizabethan collar or E-collar for short), the quicker your dog will get used to it.
Are cones for dogs cruel?
Recovery from surgery is “already distressing for an animal, and hard plastic cones can impede dogs‘ movement, impair their vision, and limit their ability to drink and eat normally,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, senior vice president of cruelty investigations at the non-profit organization People for the Ethical.
Can you leave the dog alone with a cone?
It is not recommended to leave your dog alone for long periods of time when wearing a cone. If you can, try and take your dog with you so you can keep an eye on them, or leave him with someone else that you trust, such as another family member, dog sitter, or neighbor.
How do you keep a dog from licking a wound without a cone?
Alternatives to the “cone of shame” are inflatable collars, soft E-collars, and neck brace collars. Try covering the wound with soft fabric secured by medical tape to prevent licking. Keep pets busy with other fun things to distract them from licking wounds.
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