The Best Alternatives to the ‘Cone of Shame’ for Dogs

October 1, 2020 // 10 minute read

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Dog owners would want to do anything to avoid the prospect of surgery for their four-legged buddies. However, there are specific scenarios, i.e., medical conditions and disease that leave you with no other option. After the success of dog surgery, another challenge that you and your dog are about to face is the “cone of shame.” when faced with said challenge one would often try to find the best alternatives to the ‘Cone of Shame’ for dogs.

alternatives to the cone of shame

Also called the Elizabethan or e-collar, this plastic cone is placed on the dog to keep it from licking its post-surgery wound. Although the dog cone of shame is effective and highly recommended by vets, it’s not the prettiest nor the most comfortable surgical recovery tool out there.

Fortunately, there exists a handful of alternatives to the “cone of shame” for dogs. In this article, we’ll talk about the most feasible options. In doing so, we attempt to be as impartial as possible so that dog owners like you can figure out the good and bad sides of these products.

The Best Alternatives to Dog Cones

Onesie – Surgical Recovery Clothing

Many people wonder, “Can my dog wear a surgical onesie instead of a cone?” The answer is absolutely!

The onesie is by far the most comfortable and stylish option in this list. Also called a “recovery suit,” it doesn’t work like most of the other options here since it isn’t a collar. It is designed to cover and protect the wound so that the dog doesn’t lick and scratch it. Since it is worn like how we wear a traditional T-shirt, it is guaranteed to offer comfort and convenience.

The Best Alternatives to the ‘Cone of Shame’ for Dogs

The surgical recovery suit for dogs comes in different sizes, design, and material construction. When you decide to go for this option as a dog cone alternative, be sure to choose a breathable material. You want sufficient airflow so that the wound has some room to breathe, plus Fido won’t mind wearing it for an extended period. Clearly one of the best alternatives to the ‘Cone of Shame’ for dogs

Quick Glance

What's Good

  • Does not restrict your dog’s movement
  • Covers the wound but won’t cause irritation
  • Stylish and comfortable
  • You can choose the perfect size for your dog

What's Bad

  • Not an ideal option if the wound or injury site must be kept open all the time
  • Not as effective if the wound is on the paws or legs

Non-Plastic Cone

The second alternative to the “cone of shame” on this list is the non-plastic cone. Although it primarily works the same way, it pitches a more comfortable solution. Since the conventional e-collar is made from hard plastic, it makes the dog feel tight and uncomfortable when wearing it.

The non-plastic variety tries to address this issue by offering a soft material in a cone shape. The idea is that this collar gives your furry buddy improved mobility while wearing it.

Quick Glance

What's Good

  • Made from a soft and lightweight material
  • Flexible and comfortable to wear
  • Works with calm dogs

What's Bad

  • Soft fabric material can quickly flip over and allows the dog to lick the wound
  • Requires constant supervision as the dog might rip it off
  • Not ideal for overly aggressive dogs

Soft E-Collars

A soft e-collar is made from pliable fabric and usually comes with an adjustable drawstring. Its main draw is that it doesn’t restrict your dog’s movement. Although the name indicates that it might quickly flip over or get ripped off with considerable force like a dog bite, it’s useful in keeping a small dog from acting aggressively. The comfort provided by soft e-collars won’t give the dog a reason to hate it.

Quick Glance

What's Good

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Easy to wear and won’t restrict movement
  • Does not make your dog feel uneasy
  • Effective in preventing the pet from licking its wound

What's Bad

  • Flimsy and soft qualities could be a problem for large dog breeds
  • Not ideal for dogs that just won’t feel comfortable with a cone-shaped restraint

Inflatable E-Collar

One of the unique substitutes to the “cone of shame” is the inflatable e-collar that mimics a neck pillow that we use in air and land travel. The way it is used for a dog after surgery is similar to that of the Elizabethan collar. If your dog’s wound is in the front area of the body, this collar makes perfect sense.

Also called the “blow-up collar,” it provides maximum comfort due to its soft surface. It is the complete opposite of a traditional e-collar that’s made of hard plastic. If you choose this variety, be sure to get something that is bite and scratch-resistant.

Quick Glance

What's Good

  • Practical alternative to a hard-plastic e-collar
  • Most dogs will feel comfortable wearing it
  • Light and won’t provide a burden to how your dog wants to move while wearing it

What's Bad

  • Not recommended for dogs with a propensity to bite or chew
  • Won’t be as effective when the injury or wound is on the lower extremities

Neck Control Collar

If you’re not a fan of any type of cone for your dog to wear after surgery, then a neck control collar is a feasible proposition. Instead of retaining the cone design, it emulates a neck brace worn by someone with a neck injury. This one affords comfort and doesn’t restrict your dog’s movement in any way. Hence, it won’t disrupt your dog’s routine and will not dissuade the animal from eating and sleeping.

The neck control collar is best used for dogs with a post-surgery wound or injury in the upper extremities. It comes in different styles, sizes, and designs, too.

Quick Glance

What's Good

  • Made from machine-washable material
  • Lightweight and doesn’t disrupt your dog’s usual movements and habits
  • Keeps the dog comfortable throughout the recovery period

What's Bad

  • Not for use in dogs with an injury or wound in the tail, paws, or legs
  • Some designs might still restrict your dog’s movement

DIY Alternative to the Cone

If you’re into do-it-yourself pet care and stuff, then you might want to consider a DIY alternative to the “cone of shame.” Yes, a homemade dog cone alternative is feasible if you are creative enough. You can make use of an old shirt or fabric material at home to cover the wound or injury. But then again, a DIY post-surgery e-collar alternative should only be considered if the vet tells you of a short recovery period. It is also a practical option if it’s a minor surgery with a small wound.

Frequently Asked Questions About Surgical Onesies vs Cones for Dogs

How do you keep a dog from licking a wound without a cone?

A baby onesie for dog after surgery is by far the ideal alternative to an e-collar or dog cone. If your primary concern is your furry buddy’s tendency to lick, scratch, or bite the wound, then an onesie makes sense since it will cover the affected area. You can either make an onesie from an old shirt or soft fabric material at home or buy a ready-made one from the pet store. Be sure that you get something that covers the wound and provides a snug fit for your pup so that it’ll be comfortable wearing it.

What is an alternative to a dog cone?

An alternative to a dog cone is something that eliminates the usual burden and disadvantages associated with the Elizabethan collar. You know by now that dogs don’t like wearing something that resembles a lampshade since it makes them uneasy and anxious. Well, it’s hard to blame your pooch because the dog cone restricts movement and sight. that’s why one should consider the best alternatives to the ‘Cone of Shame’ for dogs listed above

The idea behind an alternative to a dog cone is for a product to help in protecting the wound from the surgery without inflicting stress to the dog. This is why products like surgical recovery clothing or onesie for dogs are quite popular because they serve the same purpose without the burden of wearing something heavy and ugly.

Can I put a shirt on my dog instead of a cone?

An old T-shirt is a practical recovery suit for your dog as it recuperates after the surgery. Even though the vet insists on putting on a dog cone, you just can’t stand seeing your pooch depressed and sad by merely wearing something that it is uncomfortable with. If you aren’t sold on the idea of spending money for a dog onesie, you can try making one on your own by using an old shirt. Choose a breathable fabric and be sure it is a perfect fit – not too tight and not too loose. The purpose of the shirt is to cover the injury or wound so that the dog cannot lick or scratch it.

Is the cone of shame necessary?

Your vet tells you it is. But it doesn’t mean that you just have to give in to it and force your dog to wear it for at least two weeks of recovery. The “cone of shame” is useful in preventing your dog from licking its wounds, but there is a bevy of effective alternatives, too. The Elizabethan collar isn’t necessary, but the protection of the wound is. You just have to find something that suits your dog.

Final Thoughts on The Best Alternatives to the ‘Cone of Shame’ for Dogs

It doesn’t matter if the wound is a result of surgery or if your dog sustained an injury recently, you must find a way to keep the pet from having contact with it since it likely will slow down the recovery process. You need to prevent your dog from licking or scratching the wound; in so doing, you’re not compelled to use the cone of shame, provided you find something better.

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