5 Alternatives to the Dreaded Cone of Shame

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington

But although fun and goofy, the cone of shame is nothing to laugh about – it’s there for a special reason. Still, if you want to ditch the lamp shade, try one of these safe alternatives that can work just as well.

As a dog owner, there will come a time when you will have to subject your dog to the dreaded “ cone of shame” – the Elizabethan collar (also known as the e-collar). Not only do these collars make your dog look like a walking satellite dish, but they can be stressful and upsetting for some pooches. However, an e- collar is not a fashion statement but rather a medical aid: they are used to prevent your pet from licking, biting, and scratching a recovering wound after a surgery. The cone is a simple and old-fashioned solution to stop this, but it might be scary for some dogs or downright uncomfortable.

If you want to keep your dog from licking his stitches or otherwise accessing an injured body part, consider one of these alternatives to classic dog elizabethan collars. They are less funny-looking and uncomfy, but equally efficient! 

Inflatable neck pillow

You’re probably familiar with those circular pillows that people use to sleep on airplanes – inflatable neck pillows for dogs look similar. These neck pillows come in several different sizes and can be a comfortable alternative to the e-collar. To use one of these, simply inflate the pillow then place it around your dog’s neck and secure it with Velcro. The pillow will prevent your dog from biting, scratching, or licking without impeding his vision. The secret of this design is its semi-rigid form: the dog simply won’t have the range of motion needed to reach around and lick the wound. It is a crafty and simple solution, with very few drawbacks. 

Our choice: BENCMATE Protective Inflatable Collar for Dogs

Scratch and bite resistant, this tough inflatable e-collar for dogs will keep your pooch from reaching certain areas of his body and yet feel comfortable when worn. The soft cover is machine washable, so you don’t have to worry about hygiene during the recovery period. It attaches easily to your pet’s existing collars through loops on the inner side and you can adjust the fit further with velcro straps. The combination of convenience and a budget friendly price tag are what makes this one of the most popular e-collar alternatives on the market! It is a simple, efficient, and easy-to-use design that will fulfill its function and keep your pet’s wound safe. 

Related: Timeout Photo Collection Captures Dogs’ Lament To The Cone Of Shame

Soft collars

This option looks like a fabric version of the e-collar. It usually has the same shape and approximate size as an e-collar but it’s made from fabric with plastic reinforcement. Many dogs find that this type of collar is more comfortable than the plastic alternative, but some models can be fairly heavy which may make them a poor choice for small dogs. The benefit is that the collar is washable and adjustable to fit different neck sizes. This solution is best suited for larger dogs, who will bear the weight more easily. 

Our choice: The Original Comfy Cone

The name says it all- it’s a comfier alternative to rigid plastic cones. Water-resistant and easy to clean, this soft-sided elizabethan collar is made from foam backed padded nylon that is both lightweight and comfy. This model also features removable plastic stays to add structure when needed, so you don’t have to be concerned about safety. Another great thing about this soft e-collar is that it can protect shoulder or upper back injuries as it can be reversed when needed.

Neck brace collar

This type of collar looks like a neck brace but it’s designed to keep your dog from bending his neck enough to lick, bite, or chew the affected area. These collars are usually made from flexible plastic and foam and they can be adjusted to fit different sizes. While this option may be less obstructive and unwieldy than the typical e-collar, it may still cause your dog some discomfort. However, it is much simpler to use, and its efficiency can’t be denied. 

Our choice: BiteNot Collar

While your pet is recovering with a potentially itchy and hurting wound, it is imperative that they remain comfortable and relaxed. The BiteNot Collar can be ideal for this. Made of flexible plastic and foam, this neck brace for dogs is one of the comfiest out there. While the rigidness of this design might not suit all dogs, if your pet doesn’t mind the brace more than he does the cone, then this combination of materials will be the right choice. After all, some doggos might be more inclined to one solution than the other. If they avoid the neck cone, they might be more welcoming to a design such as this one. To boot, it is machine washable as well, so maintenance won’t be a hassle. 

Related: DIY Dog Halloween Costume: Tim Hortons Coffee Cup

Inflatable neck balloon

Similar to the inflatable neck pillow, an inflatable neck balloon looks more like a plastic innertube that fits over your dog’s head and sits around his neck. This option doesn’t impair your dog’s peripheral vision and it may be more lightweight than the e-collar. The problem with this type of neck balloon is that some dogs may be able to reach around it and it is also easy to puncture with sharp teeth. But if you keep an eye out, find the perfect fit, and make sure your dog is always under control, the inflatable neck balloon will work like a charm. 

Our Choice: GoodBoy Comfortable Recovery E-Collar

This is an improved version of the inflatable neck balloon- it has a cozy fleece cover that’s soft to touch and feels pleasant against your pet’s neck instead of being made from plastic or rubber alone. The inside has loops through which you insert your dog’s collar to ensure that the inflatable donut cone stays in place. For added security, there’s also a quick release buckle strap that will hold everything together. It is a simple solution that is surprisingly efficient at keeping your pet comfy and secured when they are recovering. Just make sure that it is a proper fit, so as your dog cannot reach over it and still mess with the wound. 

Baby onesie (Also known as “The Onesie of Embarrassment”)

One of the more creative alternatives to the e-collar is simply putting your dog in a baby onesie or a t-shirt with the end closed up. It might sound silly, but it can actually work really well! This solution will prevent your dog from actually touching his stitches or another affected area, though he may still be able to scratch or chew through the fabric. But to do so, they will have to be quite motivated and strong. Onesies can be aptly durable and thick, so chewing through it would require plenty of work. This option may work for minor injuries or if you simply want to prevent your dog from licking off some kind of topical application. Best suited for smaller dogs, the onesie could be ideal for doggos that simply won’t leave the affected area alone. The onesie is a thorough and all-encompassing solution for those emergency measures. 

Our Choice: IDOMIK Recovery Suit for Dogs

While you can always try using your pet’s regular onesie (if he has one) to keep him from his incision site, this specially designed recovery suit is a much better option. It is made from breathable cotton and poly mix fabric that’s machine washable and easy to keep in like-new condition. The fabric is both stretchy and snug- just what you need in this particular situation. It will keep your pet covered from shoulders to the tail, and it’s a unisex design- the rear part of the suit rolls up to allow your pooch to go potty. There is plenty of adjustability in the design, and that is also very important, as it allows you to carefully avoid the hurting area and find the perfect, snug fit for your pet. 

In Conclusion

Whether your dog has sustained an injury or recently undergone surgery, it’s imperative that you keep him from interfering with the healing process. The first few days after the surgery are the most crucial, and recovery needs to proceed unaffected. In the short-term, this may mean physically preventing your dog from biting, licking, or chewing on the affected area by using some type of collar. If your dog doesn’t respond well to the traditional e-collar, one of the options above may be a better choice. Either way, the solution can be super simple – or require a bit more effort. A lot of it depends on the attitude of the dog. Those more mischievous doggos might require a onesie or a whole protective recovery suit, while the calmer ones will do just fine with a physical obstruction such as the classic cone. Whatever the solution, the recovery can go smoothly when you choose right! 

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Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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