A traditional dog cone, or Elizabethan collar, is uncomfortable for your pup and blocks his peripheral vision. But you and your little guy can kiss that annoying cone goodbye, thanks to a few alternatives that free up his line of sight and make his life a lot more comfortable.
An inflatable collar goes around your dog's neck but doesn't block his vision and doesn't cover his entire head like a typical E-collar. Because it's just like a second collar, only bigger, most dogs don't mind it. Its size makes it difficult for your pup to get to his wounds and areas that he doesn't need to lick. An inflatable collar probably won't work if your dog has a long snout or if he's not allowed to lick his paws. The collar does not protect any part of your pup's face.
Unlike an inflatable collar, a bite-free collar fits flat around your pup's neck much like a neck brace. It gives your pup normal vision, and eating and drinking are no problem. Because of its flat fit, your little guy won't get caught on chairs or have a problem fitting through doorways. The collar has to fit fairly tightly to do the job, so some dogs may be uncomfortable with the pressure. Like an inflatable collar, it doesn't protect a dog's face, usually does not prevent dogs from licking their paws, and dogs with long snouts might be able to reach behind their neck and irritate their wounds.
While traditional E-collars do bend slightly and have a bit of give to them, they're fairly rigid. Soft E-collars are made of a soft fabric that makes it a lot more comfortable for your pup to rest, and he'll have an easier time getting himself free if he bumps into furniture or a wall. The downside to soft E-collars is that they still block your dog's vision, and they're not useful for energetic or large breed dogs.
Unless your dog has a long snout or has an injury to his face or paw, an alternative collar will probably work. But if after trying other collars your little guy still licks away at his wounds, your best option is to go back to the traditional E-collar. He will adjust after a day or two. You may find advice that suggests putting a muzzle on your dog, fitting him with a T-shirt to prevent licking or applying a foul-tasting cream or spray to the site of the wound. Do not follow any of this advice without first talking to your vet. Only basket muzzles are safe for long-term use, and they will likely scrape the affected area. T-shirts may work, but only if the wound doesn't need plenty of air and can withstand moisture, because your dog's tongue will get the area wet even with a T-shirt covering it. Bad-tasting creams and sprays can sting and worsen the wounds.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.