Elizabethan Collars in Dogs
What is an Elizabethan collar?
An Elizabethan collar (also known as an E-collar or the cone of shame) are plastic or fabric hoods or cones placed around the head to prevent an animal from licking at a surgery site, wound, or dressing.
When my dog was discharged from the hospital he was wearing an E-collar. Is this really necessary?
It is natural for dogs to lick their wounds, but this can seriously delay healing and result in infection or injury. It is important that a protective collar is used, especially when the dog is unattended and could inadvertently injure himself.
My dog appears very upset when he is wearing the collar and bangs into objects. This frightens him. Can I do anything?
Most dogs will get used to the collar after a few hours. You can ease the transition by keeping your dog in a confined space where there are no small movable objects such as stools, chairs, and tables which would move if knocked.
"You can ease the transition by keeping your dog in a confined space."
The collar restricts vision from the sides and behind and initially causes difficulty for many dogs when they must walk in tight or narrow spaces. It is important to assist them as much as possible.
Can I allow my dog outside by himself with the E-collar on?
This is not recommended due to the increased risk of injury to your dog. Your dog is at greater risk of becoming entangled in plants or bushes that could result in injury and distress. Most dogs will tolerate a collar quite well if given controlled exercise on a leash.
Will eating and drinking be a problem for my dog?
A correctly sized and adjusted collar should allow for normal feeding and drinking. If your dog normally eats or drinks from a deep bowl but refuses to eat with the collar on, try offering food in a shallow dish or plate. If you feel you must remove the protective collar, make sure your dog is supervised while eating, and replace it as soon as the meal is finished. Some dogs will benefit from elevating the food or water while wearing the protective collar.
What else is important for me to know?
It is important that both sides of the collar are kept clean. If it is difficult to do this while your dog is wearing the collar, you may remove and clean the collar with a damp cloth, but make sure your dog is fully supervised so that he does not injure himself.
A small minority of dogs will not tolerate these collars. If you have problems, please do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian. Additionally, make sure that the collar is not too tight by placing two fingers between the edge of the collar and your dog's coat. If the e-collar is causing irritation around the neck, it may need to be adjusted or a different size used.
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