A dog panting with a cone on.

What Do Dog Cones Do?

Your furry friend went to the vet and came out with a rather big funny-looking plastic cone around its neck. Your dog is miserable, unhappy, and confused, and it looks like it is a satellite dish about to receive a greeting from space. Seeing all of this may be just as confusing to you as to your dog, so knowing why dogs wear cones is key to helping them through the process. So, here’s why dogs wear cones.

Dog cones, also known as Elizabethan collars or e-collars are used to prevent dogs from licking, chewing, or scratching certain places on their body, so they can heal faster from surgery, for example. 

What Are Dog Cones And Why Do Dogs Wear Them?

A dog standing in a room with a cone on.
Looking good, buddy!

The original name for a dog cone is the Elizabethan collar. This comes from the reign of Queen Elizabeth when ladies wore high collars. These dog cones play an important role in recovery because they help vets prevent unwanted chewing or licking a surgical place. Dog cones also help prevent a dog from doing the same thing to a spot that simply needs to heal. Dog cones are especially important when your dog will be left alone for a couple of hours and also during the night. 

How To Help And Handle Dogs With Dog Cones

We all know dogs do not really fancy having anything on them, so imagine their reaction when you put something on them that is close to their eyes, nose, and mouth, especially if they are still just waking up from anesthesia. Have in mind your dog will take a couple of hours or sometimes days to get used to this funny thing around their neck, which means you’ll need to be patient. 

Another thing to consider is that dogs do not know they need to be careful when they walk around the house with a cone. Sometimes they will run into and hit stuff, sometimes even break it. This isn’t because they want to though, they just don’t feel the need to adjust the way they walked before they had a cone. 

Our recommendation for this issue is to cone-proof your house for however long your dog will be wearing its cone. This means you may need to move furniture and especially any precious, fragile items out of the way. Doing this will create a smoother experience for you and your dog.

How Long Do Dogs Wear Dog Cones?

Your vet will tell you upfront how long your dog will need to wear their dog cone. How long they need to wear one depends on what your dog is healing from and how the healing is progressing. However, most of the time, dogs will wear dog cones for seven to ten days because this is typically the time needed for a wound to heal.

Can You Temporarily Take Off A Dog Cone?

You may also wonder if you can ever take off the cone. The answer is yes, especially if your dog is going for a walk or if you’re letting your dog go for a small run. Vets do recommend, however, that you carefully monitor your dog in this case though. 

You can also remove the dog cone when your dog is eating or drinking. But if your dog can access its food and water bowls with the cone on, then it’s not necessary to remove it. 

When putting the cone back on, it’s important to set it properly and make sure it doesn’t sit too tight on your dog’s neck. You should be able to put two fingers between your dog’s skin and the cone.

Are There Alternatives To Dog Cones?

Yes, there are several alternatives to dog cones! Let’s start with soft collars. 

Soft Collars

There are soft collars that look like e-collars, but they are much softer and don’t irritate the skin on your dog’s neck. They may not be the best choice if your dog is easily scared though (including possibly rabbits?) because dogs can’t see through them. 

Inflatable Collars

Another option is the inflatable ones. Do you know those neck pillows we use when we travel? Well, these are pretty much the same! They don’t allow your dog to turn its neck and lick the wound. Also, your dog will most certainly move much more easily and won’t bump into things.

Surgical Recovery Suits

However, if your dog really protests and throws a tantrum against wearing a dog cone, you can always find it a surgical recovery suit. The good thing with those is that they also come in different sizes and even colors. Also, they are soft but still cover the places where your dog could reach and lick.

Conclusion: What Do Dog Cones Do?

Ultimately, your dog will probably not enjoy wearing a cone, but it’s important that they do. Talk with your vet, figure out how long your dog will need to wear one, and just remember you have several options for the cone. Your dog will thank you later!

So, what kind of dog cone are you going to go with? Let us know your thoughts and why in the comments below!

Dr. Nade Georgieva
Dr. Nade Georgieva
Dr. Nade Georgieva, DVM, PG Dipp (Anesthesia and Analgesia) Nade is a young veterinarian from North Macedonia, with five years of experience in small animal clinical practice. She graduated from the Veterinary Faculty in Skopje, after which she got employed in her hometown. She has shown great interest in the field of pain management and anesthesia, and was the first vet in the country to continue education in the field. In 2021 she graduated with Distinction at the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, obtaining the title Postgraduate Diploma-Anesthesia and Analgesia. Nade is owned by a year old black Labrador retriever named Fred and she loves spending her time outdoors with her dog and friends. In her spare time, she also loves to learn to play the guitar and take photos of nature and animals.