No More E-Collar Misery

Alternatives to the “cone of shame” dogs wear after surgery or to let a skin wound heal.


There’s nothing more pitiful than a dog having to navigate his way around a room when fitted with a hard, plastic funnel-shaped Elizabethan collar, also known as an e-collar. These collars have been a necessary evil because it’s important that dogs’ mouths be kept from reaching a surgical incision or skin infection or wound that is healing. Our pets tend to bite and scratch and lick at those spots, and that makes it more likely that stitches will come undone before they are supposed to; or that an infection will continue to rage, as moisture from a dog’s mouth creates the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

But the poor dogs as they wait with their heads stuck in those lampshade-shaped enclosures! They lose their peripheral vision in the cones and bump into everything as they try to amble about, and it’s not easy to eat or relax in them, either. We watch with compassion as they wait out their healing. There’s good news, however. While the veterinary clinic might provide a traditional e-collar, there are alternatives on the market that do the mouth-restraining trick without making a dog uncomfortable. Here are a few.

E-collar alternatives

Inflatable collar. This looks something like one of those pillows you might get on an airplane, circling the neck completely. It allows a dog to see to the sides and also provides increased mobility. But they’re not for every wound on every dog. Many of the collars are only thick enough to keep a pet from getting at wounds on the upper part of his body. If your dog is healing from an incision or infection or hot spot on a lower limb, his mouth might still be able to reach it. Make sure that the fit works for the goal you need to achieve.

Popular inflatable collars: Bencmate Protective Inflatable Collar ($14.98 on, KONG Cloud Collar ($20.29 on for medium, $25.38 for large).

Neck brace collar. Made of plastic and foam, a neck collar will not let your dog bend his head to get to the sore spot but will otherwise be comfortable and allow him full peripheral vision. (These collars will often not work for thick-necked dogs like bulldogs.)

Popular neck brace collars: BiteNot Collar ($34.54 on, KVP Bite Free Collar ($29.99 on

Body suit. If your dog is miserable with anything thick or wide around his neck, you might be better off covering the wound rather than limiting the reach of the mouth.

Manufacturers call wound-protecting gear surgical recovery body suits, but they’re simply onesies, and they come in soft, comfortable fabrics to fit dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Popular body suits: Surgi Snuggly Wonder Suit ($32.98 on, Dog Recovery Suit Abdominal Wound Protector ($17.99 on for medium, $19.99 for large).

Note: Sometimes you can use a t-shirt to cover the affected area, but it has to be tight enough (although not uncomfortable) so that your dog is unable to pull the material aside.

Leg coverings. A body suit covers the trunk but not the legs. If the wound or surgical incision is on one of the limbs, you can go with a sleeve just for that appendage. It stays in place by wrapping around part of the torso or the neck.

Popular limb sleeves: Suitical Recovery Sleeve for Dogs (from $32 to $35 depending on size on, After Surgery Wear Hip and Thigh Wound Protective Sleeve for Dogs ($24.99 to $28.99 depending on size on

Whichever item you choose, you really have to make sure your dog cannot reach the trouble spot, or your expenditure will be for naught. And you have to be certain your pet is not a fabric chewer who will do anything to get to the wound you’re attempting to keep covered.

If none of these options will do, you might be able to use a soft e-collar. It’s sort of like a floppy hat and provides more comfort even though the dog will still be without peripheral vision. But again, it’ll only work for a dog who won’t work relentlessly to chew through it.


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