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A black pug looking up at their pet parent and wearing an e-collar.

Health & Wellness

5 tips for helping your dog get used to an e-collar — aka a cone

Cones don’t have to be uncomfortable.

If your dog is having surgery, don’t be surprised when your vet sends them home wearing an e-collar, otherwise known as an Elizabethan collar or a cone. The cone is essential to ensuring your pet’s recovery process goes smoothly.

Just know that your pet probably won’t be the biggest fan of their new accessory. It can be uncomfortable and may take a little getting used to — but there are ways you can help make the experience better.

How do cones help dogs after surgery?

“E-collars are recommended for dogs after they’ve had surgery or when they have an injury so they can’t chew, lick or scratch that area,” Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. 

The barrier created prevents infection from spreading to their wounds and protects the stitches from being pulled out, she adds. 

RELATED: What can I give my dog for pain?

How long do dogs need to wear their cones?

The length of time your pup has to wear the cone varies from a couple of days to potentially weeks, Dr. McCullough explains. It usually depends on your dog’s surgery, procedure or injury. Above all, it’s best to follow your veterinarian’s recommendation for when to remove the cone. 

Helping your dog feel comfortable in their cone

It’s normal for pups to feel a little stressed during this time, and we don’t blame them — adjusting to the cone can be difficult for your best friend. Here are five tips to help make this transition easier:

01: Help your pup get around the house‍‍

The cone is much wider than your dog’s head, so learning to move through usual spaces can be tricky. Be sure to guide them and move anything that may trip them up. ‍‍

02: Stay close and cuddly‍‍

Your dog will likely need a little extra help, so stay close by to lend some support (this also doubles as a great excuse not to leave the couch).‍‍

03: Give your dog all the praise‍‍

When your pup shows good behavior with the collar, give them compliments (a little extra attention never hurts). The confidence boost will help your pet know that they’re doing the right thing and get used to the cone faster. ‍‍

04: Take the cone off for meals‍‍

Your pet’s eating space may need to be reimagined, given the shape and size of the cone. Most dogs learn to eat with a cone on, but in some cases, pups struggle. To make mealtimes a breeze, removing the e-collar for eating and putting it back on immediately afterward is OK. Just keep a close eye on them when the cone is off. ‍‍

05: Safe fun is encouraged‍‍

Don’t feel guilty for enforcing the cone. It’s necessary for your pet’s speedy (and safe) recovery to keep it on at all times (except for meals). And your pup can still have safe fun — follow the doctor’s orders when it comes to playtime, but make sure to still keep things fun. 

Most dogs get used to wearing the cone within 24 hours. But, if your dog is struggling, ask your vet about some other options. For example, donuts (inflatable collars) are great alternatives to the traditional cone.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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