I’m not sure who invented the cone of shame, but the original plastic design makes it feel like more of a punishment than an aide to healing. Plastic e-collars (or recovery collars), while sometimes necessary to prevent a dog from licking, scratching, or biting at an injury or surgical site, can be quite cumbersome and frightening. There are ways to reduce your dog’s stress while they’re recovering, and these dog cone alternatives might help do just that.
Soft Cones for Dogs
If you’ve ever brought a dog home from the vet wearing a hulking hard plastic neck cone, you will be amazed by how nice the upgrade to the soft version is. It’s still covering the same field of vision, but the softness allows them to sleep, eat, and get around without banging into things and making an awful racket. It is much less frustrating for them with less wear and tear on your walls (and your nerves). The comfy cone is well worth the extra few bucks.
The inflatable dog collar makes your dog look a bit like he’s lost out at sea in need of rescuing. But they are great at preventing your dog from chewing or licking problem areas. Most dogs take to the inflatable e-collar quite well. The up side is that they allow for full vision, with no obstruction. The down side is that if your dog’s issue is scratching or rubbing at their head or face, this recovery collar doesn’t always restrict that behavior. If that’s the case, it’s back to the soft cone for them.
Skip the Cone. Protect the Wound.
Instead of using a collar to prevent your dog from licking or biting, consider covering the wound or surgical site instead. It might be enough to fashion a t-shirt or sock loosely around the area to keep your dog from bothering it. But if it’s a problem area, there are recovery garments that cover different legs, feet, or the torso (they look a little like a wet suit) so that your dog can move freely while not disturbing the healing process.
Homemade DIY Dog Cones
If your working with at-home first aid, you might want to try one of these quick and cheap DIY dog cone ideas. But please make sure your dog is comfortable and can breathe easily. Always allow enough room for 2 fingers to fit under any collar for safety, and make sure the cone doesn’t extend more than 2 inches past their face so that they can eat and drink.
Towel (or bubble wrap) and Duct Tape:
Loosely roll a medium-sized bath towel, (or a long sheet of bubble wrap) until it is approximately the width of your dog’s neck--think of it like you’re making him a travel pillow. (Or hey-just use a travel pillow.)
Once you’ve got it sized and in place around their neck, like a life preserver, secure it loosely with a few rounds of duct tape, being careful to keep their fur out of the adhesive.
This is basically a cardboard version of the cone of shame. Cut a piece of cardboard into the shape of a rainbow. You might want to notch slots into the bottom of the rainbow to allow for their collar to weave through, but it’s optional.
Using the woven collar system or some duct tape, complete the cone and connect the ends. Expect this version to get wet and nasty before long, but it’s a quick hack.
If your dog is at risk of serious injury or infection, make sure you have an e-collar or recovery device that will keep your dog safe. There’s no shame in a cone, but if you can find a comfortable and safe alternative to the e-collar, your dog will surely thank you.