Whole Dog Journal's Blog November 30, 2017

Elizabethan Collars: There Are Modern Alternatives!

Posted at 10:14AM - Comments: (21)

WDJ contributor/freelance writer Barbara Dobbins sent me a text from the waiting room of a busy veterinary practice the other day:

“Sitting at the veterinary specialist and watching all the traditional cones go by. Why don’t they offer or even discuss alternatives? Sigh.”

Most pet supply stores carry inexpensive, translucent, lighter-weight alternatives to the typically vet-issued, heavy, opaque cones.

Dobbins’ dissatisfaction is understandable: She most recently wrote a review of alternatives to the classic veterinary “cone” or Elizabethan collar (“Shameless Protection,” WDJ July 2017). Dobbins tested eight different products that can be used to protect a dog’s wound or surgical site, each of which offered greater comfort, vision, and less amplification of sound than what a dog typically experiences with a conventional, vet-issued “cone.”

The classic cone offered at most veterinary practices is made of very heavy, stiff , opaque plastic. Most dogs suffer more from the cones than whatever wound they have that is being protected. They are often bigger than they have to be to protect the dog’s wound site, and because the plastic is opaque, the wearer often bashes into doorways and table legs, trying to move around his house. Many dogs, and especially senior dogs, seem to find the whole experience so disheartening that they often reuse to try to eat or drink or even walk around with the cones on.

Many pet supply stores carry lighter-weight, translucent cones, which often come with a strip of fabric or vinyl that lines the inner edge of the collar, making it less liable to dig into the dog’s neck uncomfortably. If your dog has to wear an Elizabethan collar for a short period, for example, following a surgery or wound repair, we’d recommend picking up one of these inexpensive alternatives.

If your dog suffers from a condition that calls for longer-term use of a protective cone, we’d strongly recommend looking into one of the other alternatives Dobbins describes in her review.

After seeing the alternatives, we’d never bring our dog home from a vet’s office with one of those  classic, unwieldy, uncomfortable (and often over-priced) cones again.


Comments (21)

This is the link to the original article by Barbara Dobbins where she describes the alternatives to basic cones. This was clearly referenced in the beginning of the paragraph below the photo at the top of this blog post.

Posted by: MKRNC | December 4, 2017 10:45 AM    Report this comment

I used an inflatable collar but one of my dogs popped the inflatable section. I rolled up some bubble wrap (due to having large breeds, I used the large bubble type) and stuffed it in the collar. Lightweight and couldn't be compressed. Works beautifully.

Posted by: Mary Stevens | December 3, 2017 11:08 AM    Report this comment

I bought a Dutch product on Amazon called a Suitical, basically a stretchy snug fitting onesie for dogs, for my Miniature American Shepherd for his neutering recovery. He wore it for 10 days and I highly recommend it if you want a happier cone-free dog! It has snaps that open for potty breaks.

Posted by: Thecelt | December 2, 2017 8:58 AM    Report this comment

A great alternative to the hard plastic cone, try a "Neck Hug", soft e-collar for pets at www.wagtailfarms.com . Barks, Meows & Neck Hugs ~

Posted by: Wag Tail Farms | December 2, 2017 3:07 AM    Report this comment

The NovaGuard recovery collar is a fantastic alternative that allowed our dog to heal with much less stress and more comfortably. ProtectivePetSolutions.com out of California is the only company that ships them already pre-assembled and with very good instructions. I hate putting things together so that was a big plus! Because the ears are on the outside, our dog didn't have distorted hearing like in the E-Collar, so now no echoes either which is a huge benefit for dogs to help their sense of well being. Due to the design, it is soo much more narrow than the Cone and is translucent, our dogs do not bump into furniture doors or us and they can easily still go out the doggy door! The headrest on top keeps the collar up and away from the eyes, keeps it stable so it doesn't flop up and down like the cone and gives airflow and ventilation from the back. They also offer Free email fit and adjustment assistance via pics if needed! Wonderful customer service, they really care about our dogs. The prices are cheaper than our Vet charges for the Cone! Our 80 # German Shepherd wears the large size and it is only $20.99 on their website. They have a great You Tube video if you search NovaGuard recovery collar.

Posted by: DogLover64 | December 2, 2017 3:06 AM    Report this comment

I've used both the inflatable Kong donut for post-CCL surgery, but when our terrier mix had the other leg done, he was too flexible and could reach that incision, so we used a soft version of a cone that came from a vet. I saw online it was called the Trimline Recovery collar, made of stiff royal blue coated fabric with white piping around the edges. He wore it at night and it was soft, comfy, and quiet.
A friend has used a flat fabric-covered foam disk for her Vizsla, JorVet Soft e-collar, that is comfy and doesn't clunk around either.

Posted by: Countrydogs | December 1, 2017 6:14 PM    Report this comment

Is the text sent you by Barbara Dobbins supposed to be the review? "we’d strongly recommend looking into one of the other alternatives Dobbins describes in her review." What review? What alternatives? Do you ever answer these comments? If not, we are wasting our time posting them. Reading other people's problems doesn't help much.

Posted by: barbbaral | November 30, 2017 8:16 PM    Report this comment

I created a great alt to the nasty EC. Our 6 month old Wheaton Terrier/ miniature poodle mix (Whoodle) needed something after being neutered. The EC made him very disheartened and he chose to simply lie around. After trying a soft collar from the pet store, with similar results, I bought an inflatable Kong collar. Only problem was, he could still reach his incision site due to having a long neck and jaw. Then I thought to buy some 6-9 mo old baby onesies, diaper pins and toddler boy underpants. I cut a hole in the onesie to fit his tail while putting it on him backwards so the snaps were on his back, not his belly. Then I cut a hole for his tail in the underpants and put them over top of the onesie and secured it on his back with a diaper pin through the onesie and pants. Worked great! At night I’d add the inflated Kong collar so he couldn’t mess with the site without my knowing. He looked like a very furry toddler!
I had also found on Amazon a wonderful dog onesie product which I ordered. It was even better than my invention and looked SO comfy!! It’s called Cover Me by Tui. Highly recommended!!
So, there’s two very workable options for a happier pet!
I wish I could post photos here, they’re adorable!

Posted by: RustysMom | November 30, 2017 5:03 PM    Report this comment

We had great success with a Medical Pet Shirt when our dog was neutered. It worked so well for him and I would recommend it as first line whenever appropriate. It is so comfortable for him. I was really happy to not see him in a cone. I've seen others use a doughnut pillow meant for airplane travel. Another soft alternative.

Posted by: BarbUpNorth | November 30, 2017 2:33 PM    Report this comment

Most clinics do suggest alternatives to the plastic e-collar! The thing is, most people don't want to go out of their way to get one! We have suggested the Comfy Cone, the tubular one, and for many small dogs, a onesie, or even using the Thunder Shirt over a tee shirt, something that worked great when my Gordon Setter had abdominal surgery. Some clients come up with their own ideas that work great, even putting the cone on backwards, or just wearing a tee shirt or socks. We certainly can't stock a bunch of different ones, I doubt that many clinics could afford to!

Posted by: Jani | November 30, 2017 1:58 PM    Report this comment

My border collie had a large wound on her abdomen that required stitches. Instead of the collar my vet used a Surgi Snuggly - kind of like a thunder shirt but the material is a thinner, soft, stretchy material, providing an excellent fit. She wore it for 6 weeks with no issues.

Posted by: friday | November 30, 2017 1:55 PM    Report this comment

Depending on where the incision is, maybe a thunder shirt. Our dog had his spleen removed. We protected his incision w his thunder shirt.

Posted by: Kayasy | November 30, 2017 12:35 PM    Report this comment

Just do a search for alternative for dog cones - there are a few sites with good alternatives

Posted by: BabyGracie | November 30, 2017 12:26 PM    Report this comment

You all probably have the makings for an alternative at home: For my dog, at 20 pounds, it required a couple of those cheap, thin, flannel-type blankets/throws and some duct tape (I use the designer kind, but any will do). Roll up the blanket(s) first into a tight roll. Then wrap around your dog's neck several times---leave just enough room to get your hand through. Wrap tightly and secure with duct tape along the way, till it is is sufficient thickness to prevent the dog from "messing with" whatever is back there. Much more comfortable, no banging into furniture or doors. Might not work for all dogs, but worth a try, right?

Posted by: katwalk44 | November 30, 2017 12:22 PM    Report this comment

Without a lengthy discussion, after exhausting every alternative method I can find and working with a trainer and my vet-short of mind altering anxiety drugs-the ONLY thing that works for OCB licking to the point of mutilation (and more vet bills) is a soft Elizabethan collar for our Labrador retriever. As he ages his compulsions get worse. He actually readily accepts the cone and sticks his head thru when we offer it before bedtime or leaving for work. I guess it's me that hates it and wish he didn't need to wear it! Other cone alternatives would be worth it to me to look into....

Posted by: DebK | November 30, 2017 12:16 PM    Report this comment

Many of my dogs (poodles) have been able to get around the classic cones. They contort or stretch out body parts or even worse I have seen them brace the cone against an incision to be able to lick somewhere else.

Posted by: Furrykids | November 30, 2017 12:00 PM    Report this comment

I, too, have tried several protective cones, but my dog can still reach her wound site. The old fashioned cone would be ok if it could attach to a collar instead of those hard plastic holders.

Posted by: Zookeeper91326 | November 30, 2017 11:58 AM    Report this comment

Folks, check out the July 2017 issue for the alternatives!!

Posted by: KimberlyO | November 30, 2017 11:58 AM    Report this comment

yes, what are alternatives ?

Posted by: Aach | November 30, 2017 11:48 AM    Report this comment

Really? You're not going to tell us what those alternatives are?

Posted by: Donnasandy | November 30, 2017 11:46 AM    Report this comment

I would love to see a really good alternative to the hard plastic cones. I've tried several alternates purchased from pet stores. One did not stay reliably inflated. The other while partially effective did not stop my dog from being able to reach his wound. It made it more difficult - but he has a long body and could still reach it. If anyone has a recommendation for an alternative that works well (especially for large dogs), it would be wonderful to read.

Posted by: LynnMD | November 30, 2017 11:43 AM    Report this comment

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