The Cone of Shame (Elizabethan Collar or E-collar): Tips and Techniques

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.

original The Cone of Shame (Elizabethan Collar or E collar): Tips and Techniques

Redditor Bearmanatee’s dog’s Halloween costume.  It’s called making the best of his cone of shame.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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Dog wearing inflatable elizabethan collar. Photographer: Andrew Petro.

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

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.

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Willow, our chocolate lab, looking much happier after her cone of shame came off.

This entry was posted in Dog Safety and tagged , , , , , , , , , , by Cheryl. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cheryl

I am a high school librarian and guide dog puppy raiser. My husband and I thought raising guide dog puppies for Southeastern Guide Dogs for the blind would fill that empty place when having children was not an option for us. Having a guide dog puppy with us at all times changed our lives. Our blog The McLean Puppy Chronicles tells the story of how sometimes when you start a project where you think you will be giving back, you end up receiving so much more in return. We are now on our fourth guide dog puppy. We first raised Bingo, then HRH Berkeley, Jam and now we are raising Coach. visit our blog and see what Coach is up to. 8-)

10 thoughts on “The Cone of Shame (Elizabethan Collar or E-collar): Tips and Techniques

  1. I felt so bad for Lacey after she got spayed she had to wear the cone of shame. She was not happy at all she did manage to eat and go potty with it on but she did look very uncomfortable. I did not know there was other options out there as in the elizabethan collar. It looks a lot more humane. Thanks for the info Cheryl

    • I know!  Willow was so depressed and so needy, poor little baby.  I wish we could have used the donut option with her, but they were afraid she would scratch.

  2. Wow Lacey your friend willopw sure looks skinny.  I know I am on the other end of THAT spectrum but he needs a few pounds.  I have several daycare friends who swear by the blue cushion collar around their neck.  It acts as a built in pillow to rest on and they can eat, walk and see without problems.

  3. I, as a trainer, will encourage people to get their dog used to a cone as part of puppy 101, we know that at some point in the dogs’ life they will need to wear “The Cone” make it a fun introduction.  Teaching a dog to let you put on an E-collar is easier to do if the dog isn’t already stressed out by either injury or discomfort.

  4. Thank you so much fow visiting me.  We love all the infowmashun on that inflatabull collaw. I know I’d like it mowe than my stoopid cone of shame, but we awe now living in Boo da Pest Hungawy, and they only have the cones hewe. I think Mommi will twy to get a fwiend to send me one of the othews in case I evew need one again. Fow now, i only have to weaw it when Mommi and Daddi awe sneeping and I’m on the big bed wif them. Othew times, mommi is keeping me on a leash wif hew so she can watch me wif hew eeegle eyes. I am nevew left alone these days till my woond heals.
    I’m so glad Willow yoow bootiful labwadowe is bettew
    Smoochie kisses

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