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Cone of Shame: What It Is and Cone Alternatives

What Is an Elizabethan Collar?

Many pet parents will, at some point, experience an Elizabethan collar—more commonly known as the "cone of shame" or e-collar. The traditional recovery cone is a plastic collar that prevents dogs and cats from licking or chewing on surgical sites, hot spots, or injuries.

The cone is often referred to as the "cone of shame" because pets wearing them may look sad or ashamed. Despite their appearance, these cones are essential for preventing infections, worsening injuries, or damaging surgical incisions.

History of the Recovery Cone

The first recovery cone was invented by a veterinarian, Dr. Frank L. Johnson, in 1962. He drew inspiration from the ruffed collars worn by nobles, including Queen Elizabeth I. The original collar was made from a thin plastic sheet, and today, most recovery cones are made from plastic or fabric.

How To Put a Cone on a Cat or Dog

Fitting a cone on a cat or dog may vary depending on the type of cone, but the basic principles are the same:

  1. Slip the cone over your pet's head.

  2. Ensure a snug fit: The cone should fit snugly around the neck, allowing for two fingers to fit underneath. Depending on the cone type, your vet may provide a roll of gauze or string to secure it.

  3. Proper length: The cone should extend beyond your pet’s muzzle to prevent them from reaching the affected area.

  4. Check the fit: Always check the fit and tightness with your veterinarian.

Alternatives to the Cone of Shame

Some pets strongly dislike wearing a recovery cone and may need an alternative to protect their wounds and incisions. Here are some options:

  1. Inflatable cones: These fit around the neck and are more comfortable than traditional cones. However, ensure your pet can’t reach the affected area if not properly fitted.

  2. Recovery suits: Great for wounds or incisions on the neck, chest, back, or abdomen. They are usually machine washable and stylish.

  3. Padded rings and donuts: These collars are more comfortable and improve a pet's peripheral vision. Ensure the ring is large enough to prevent the pet from reaching the wound.

  4. Cloth cones: These are sturdy but collapsible and more comfortable. However, they may reduce your pet's peripheral vision and may collapse too easily.

Recommended Products

  • Suitical Recovery Suit for Dogs: Offers full-body coverage, making it ideal for post-surgery recovery.

  • COMFURT COLLAR Dog & Cat Recovery Collar: Provides comfort and flexibility while preventing licking or chewing.

  • All Four Paws Comfy Cone E-Collar for Dogs & Cats: A soft, padded alternative to the traditional plastic cone.

What Is the Best Cone for Dogs and Cats?

Choosing the best recovery cone depends on several factors:

  1. Location of injury: The right recovery cone or suit depends on where you need to prevent your pet from licking or chewing.

  2. Pet’s disposition: Some pets may prefer alternatives like donuts for increased visibility.

  3. Durability and ease of cleaning: If the cone is needed for longer than 10 to 14 days, ensure it’s easy to clean and durable.

  4. Cost: Traditional plastic cones are usually less expensive than cloth cones or recovery suits.

Consult with your veterinarian about which recovery cone or alternative is best for your pet’s specific situation.

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