Do I have to keep the cone on my dog’s head? Find Out Here

Why Dogs Need to Wear Cones

“We put cones on animals to prevent them from chewing or scratching at an incision or a spot on them that we are trying to get to heal,” says Sara Ochoa, DVM, at Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital in Whitehouse, Texas. “Cones are important to keep your pet from causing any problems with their skin or surgical site. Some pets will easily make things much worse for them and even remove stitches from a surgical site causing major complications.”

The cone acts as a physical barrier to prevent them from licking or tearing at their wounds. Besides surgery, Ochoa says if the dog is scratching or itching excessively at a specific spot, shell put a cone on the dog to prevent that.

Cone sizes vary based on the size and face shape of the dog. “You want it to extend out 3–4 inches beyond the tip of their nose,” Ochoa says. “Pugs could actually have one thats smaller than a dog thats even their same size just because their faces are so small. And then you get a Doberman with a really, really long nose. They have to have one thats even longer than a lab needs.”

How to Prep for Cone Wearing

You can pick up a dog cone at your vets office before the surgery and let your dog adjust to it. Ochoa says it will take about two to three days for the dog to adjust to wearing one. When your dog is wearing it, give them treats to create a positive association. And take your time.

“Be patient with them,” Ochoa says. “They get there. But it takes a while.”

Ochoa also suggest prepping your space for a cone-wearing canine. Even the most well behaved dog could wreak havoc at home wearing a cone. “Ive had dogs break lamps,” Ochoa says. Before your dog arrives home, make sure you dont have valuables or fragile items that could be hit by the cone.

Do I have to keep the cone on my dog’s head?

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How Long Does A Dog Have To Wear A Cone After TPLO Surgery?

TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) is one of the most widespread orthopedic surgeries performed on dogs who have torn their cranial cruciate ligament, also known as a dog’s torn ACL.

Typically, the first 12 weeks following the surgery are key for recovery. Your dog must keep the cone on for as long as your veterinarian recommends. Knee incisions may be sore after two weeks, but your dog should be able to see a decrease in swelling, bruising, and redness. Dogs after TLPO surgery may have to wear the cone for up to a month or less.

Full TLPO surgery recovery can take up to 6 months.

Dog Cone Care Tips

As a veterinarian, we hear this comment all day long. People feel so bad for their dogs when they have to wear the “Cone of Shame” or “Lamp Shade”.

Just a little fun fact, the person who invented and patented the E-Collar was a person by the name of F.L. Johnson in 1962. There is no record anywhere as to if he/she was a veterinarian. It was creatively named after Queen Elizabeth the First in the 16th century who is well-known for styling what was referred to as a ruff collar of lace. Quite the fashion statement of the times. This collar was later referred to as an Elizabethan Collar.

Anyway, here is my take on the E-collar for your dog. Some dogs don’t mind it at all. Then some go crazy to get it off. At the same time, there are some dogs that, even without a collar would not lick or bite their incision, and of course, there are others who will do anything and everything to get at the incision.

The reality is that the sole purpose of this collar is to keep your dog from biting and licking at their incision. Second, the collar only needs to be kept on the dog 7-10 days after surgery. This allows for enough time for primary healing to occur. Therefore in the grand scheme of things, it is not a long time. If your dog were to get at the incision and either infect it or open the incision by removing the sutures or staples then potential damage would cause more harm to your dog and also it is going to cost more money.

The reality is if your dog can tolerate the cone then absolutely leave it on and try not to “feel bad” because it is only temporary and for their own good. On the other hand, if your dog hates the collar then you are going to need to find an alternative. There are dozens of alternative options to choose from on the market today. Here is a quick E-Collar alternatives comparison chart with some of the most popular alternatives. You can find a more in-depth analyst of alternatives here. And, in case you are wondering, YES your dog can sleep with their cone on. Learn more about that here.