Elizabethan Collars: There Are Modern Alternatives!


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.”

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.