Downeast Dog News

Cone of Shame

By Dr. Judith Herman | Jul 01, 2017

Q. My dog is going in to be neutered, and it was suggested that I buy an E- Collar. Can you tell me what that is and why I need it?

A. After a dog has surgery, the concern is he will start licking the incision and either open up the incision by licking out the sutures (stitches) or cause an infection or inflammation in that area. The Elizabethan collar, also known as an E-Collar, is typically dispensed. It looks like the collars worn during Elizabethan times, so the name. Many veterinarians will include the collar in the estimate for the surgery. There are many types of restrictive gear out there, and some are very expensive to do it yourself. Most dogs look pretty pathetic when they wear the collar, which gave it the nickname, Cone of Shame.

When I was first out of veterinary school, I used to give a demonstration on how to make your own collar using a wash or paint bucket, duct tape and string. It worked really well and was cheap. The problem with the bucket or the E-collar is two- fold. The first is the restricted vision and the second is the width of the collar making it difficult to move through doors and rooms without banging into everything.

Over time, there are more options available to our K9 companions. Depending on the location, you can find many styles that will meet your needs.

There are collars that you blow up into pillows that go around Fluffy’s neck. Some are plastic and some are soft. The idea is to keep the dog from bending his neck enough to get to the area. There are also rigid collars that keep the neck straight.

Besides the big plastic cone that goes around the neck, there are soft cones that can face backward or forward to protect vulnerable areas of forelegs, neck, and shoulders.

They make face masks that are clear or tinted to protect the face and can maneuver easily around the house.

If the issue is licking a leg, bandage, and the like, you can find anti-lick tape that is impregnated with bad tasting herbs.

Another option is the “onesies” for dogs that can be purchased on line. This is like onesies used for babies. It covers the body with velcro or buttons down the back. It works by covering the stitches that are on the body.

My favorite is using children’s clothing to cover up the area of concern. For neutered patients, I recommend boxer shorts. The tail goes through the fly, it doesn’t bind and is easy to change. Tee-shirts are another great way to cover the chest. I have seen folks use turtle necks for protection higher up.

No matter what you use, make sure your pup is comfortable and safe from licking or chewing after surgery.

Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH

Animal Wellness Center

Augusta, Maine