About two weeks ago, our chocolate lab Willow had to go in for eye surgery to remove a growth on her lower eyelid that we had been watching for a while. Of course, after the surgery, she was required to wear the cone of shame for 10 days, which was not easy for her or or us. So I got to thinking about the cone and its history and some rules for its use.
Now, I know that no one likes the cone of shame. For one thing, you’re pet is sick. They’ve had surgery and they hurt. The stitches itch and they probably want to scratch and lick. Enter the e-collar.
Your veterinarian will advise you on how long to keep the e-collar on your pet and that’s a date you should obey. The last thing you want to have happen is to take that collar off early and then have a random scratch rip open those sutures: more pain and more money to fix what three more days in an e-collar would have fixed.
Here are some other rules to live by for cats and dogs from Dr. Ernest Ward of VCA Hospitals:
- If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, for the length of the e-collar, your cat needs to be indoors. It will affect their vision and balance and for their safety they need to remain under your watchful care.
- Dogs, too, should remain indoors and under your watchful care for the duration of their time with the cone in case you are in the habit of letting them run loose. For dogs, it is suggested that you first put them in a small room where they can feel comfortable and there are not lots of small objects to hit and knock over. Once they are comfortable in this space, you can ease them out to the larger space of the house.
- Both dogs and cats will become more easily startled and may run into things. Store valuable items out of the way. Take care when approaching your pet as their peripheral vision is affected so as not to unduly startle them.
- Cats with long hair may need extra care with grooming as they won’t be able to do of this on their own. All cats and dogs should be checked daily to see if there are any spots of irritation or abrasions near the e-collar site.
- If your cat or dog will not eat or drink with the e-collar on, try elevating their food and water. If that doesn’t work, try placing it on a shallower dish, such as a plate.
- If you take the e-collar off (which is usually not recommended, but some pets won’t potty or eat with it on), when you put it back on be sure to leave at least two fingers worth of space on the neck for your pet to breathe and swallow and the e-collar to move around freely.
Here is a video on how to reattach an e-collar if your pet won’t eat or drink with their e-collar on.
One of the alternatives to the standard e-collar is the doughnut collar or inflatable e-collar pictured below.
Some dogs prefer this to the standard e-collar as it doesn’t affect their vision. The company from the photo above is Boobooloon. They have over 25,000 likes on Facebook and it does look comfy and easy to take on and off. In addition to Boobooloon, which is also fun to say, other inflatable e-collars include: the Kong cloud collar and Procollar has a version that looks remarkably similar to Kong’s. All are available from Amazon.com.
There is a company that says that they have an answer to the cone of shame: Hagar Collars. They say their collars are more humane and promote a better sense of well-being which in turn will help pets heal faster than with the e-collars. While I think this could be true for many of the cases for which you would use an e-collar, I don’t think the or the inflatables would be appropriate for anything dealing with the eyes, as the main purpose is to keep the dog from scratching or rubbing that area. It’s an option. Talk to your vet. See what they think.
Every pet is different. Our dog Loca, a beagle, wouldn’t potty because she needed to sniff the ground and decide on a spot before she would go. So, there was a lot of on again, off again with the cone when she had it. Willow was a trooper. Her only bad habit was running really fast into everything. I think she thought if she ran, she could leave the cone behind her. It didn’t work that way. By the 10th day she would sit at the bottom of the stairs and we practically carried her up. She is much happier now that the cone is off and she is free to roam as a normal dog. The test came back as a melanoma, but the area had clean margins, so they think that they got everything and that we shouldn’t have to do anything more. So that was good news.