An animal's automatic reaction to skin discomfort is to lick the area. But some critters take this behavior too far and cause infection. Proper healing requires keeping your pet's tongue off his injury.
The quintessential collar for preventing licking and biting of healing wounds, the scourge of the pet world and the unintentional cause of much laughter from pet owners is the Elizabethan collar, also known as the E-collar or cone of shame. This piece of plastic or reinforced cloth -- named after the large ruffled collars women wore during the Elizabethan era, called ruffs -- wraps around your pet's neck to create a protective collar that resembles an upside-down lampshade. These flare outward from the neck about as far as the snout extends from the face to prevent your pet from bothering a wound. They are cumbersome and awkward at first.
Neck Brace Collars
A problematic side effect is that the E-collar impedes peripheral vision and hinders maneuvering or even eating properly. This can cause undue stress and anxiety. Neck-brace-style collars such as BiteNot or Stop Bite offer low-profile alternatives to the E-collar, limiting your pet's ability lick himself while keeping his peripheral vision clear in the process. These alternatives to a bulky cone around his face allow him to eat, walk and sleep in greater comfort, resulting in a happier pet.
If the cone collar seems like overkill but the neck brace ones don't create enough of an obstacle, maybe something in between would work for your pet. Inflatable collars such as the ProCollar look much like the travel pillows that wrap around your neck as you try to catch some shuteye on long flights. Made from durable plastic, this E-collar alternative prevents your pet from turning his head and reaching his boo-boo with his tongue. It provides wound protection while still being comfortable and allowing mostly free movement.
Try and Try Again
Pet personalities vary. What Mr. Whiskers found acceptable may not work with Miss Fluffypants. Some pets get used to a protective collar after wearing it for a while, but others fight tooth and nail -- literally -- to get the blasted thing off. This could aggravate the original injury and cause entirely new ones as he thrashes about. Try different collars to see which works best for your pet, and always supervise them while they're worn. Speak to your vet if your pet simply refuses to wear anything without freaking out. You may need to come up with an alternate plan.
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