A cone or E-collar is one of the most benign-looking torture devices we vets like to inflict on pet parents and their furry friends. Veterinarians have invented many different types of these torture devices: calming collars, bite-nots, donuts, soft collars — all to add puppy-shaming to the fun as well. We use the excuse of safety, but secretly it’s just to inflict pain on your calves, scratch up your walls, get your dog stuck in doorways, and make it impossible for them to eat unless they are balancing upside down with legs flailing in the air.
Why E-Collars are Essential for Post-Op Care
All jokes aside, vets and our teams have a love/hate relationship with E-collars. We absolutely hate them while having to deal with them daily. Our calves take constant abuse from them, and most patients that stay in the hospital have to wear one to keep them from chewing out their catheters. That being said, when we perform a surgery, from sewing up small cuts to making major repairs in the belly or the chest, we are investing so much. We are devoting care, effort, hope, and pride throughout the entire process — willing your pet to heal. There is nothing more disheartening than to see our patients come back again, hurting and in pain, because their wounds have reopened. We know it’s even more upsetting for the family. When we send home an E-collar, it’s only because it’s absolutely necessary. We are trying to protect your pet.
The Dangers of Forgoing an E-Collar
I have seen such a tragic number of wounds open up because a pet’s family didn’t think an E-collar needed to be tied on or that their pet didn’t need to wear it at night, in the kennel, or while they were being supervised. Other pet parents simply assume their angel baby would never mess with an incision. Whatever the reason, it means another expensive bill for you, another painful surgery for your pet, and another 2 weeks in a cone. Our pets hate E-collars just as much as yours, and I promise, we hate them more than you (simply due to overexposure). However, they are a necessary evil. I recently lost a patient because he ate his bandages and became obstructed. Not to mention, a number of patients eating their sutures out and even chewing on their own intestines.
Two Weeks of Tough Love
Love your pet enough to help them heal. I’ve seen dogs wearing 5-gallon buckets with holes in the bottom strapped to their collars. Whatever you have to do to make it to 2 weeks, do it. It’s a very small price to pay. Yes, your pet is miserable, but they are protected from the temptation to lick, nibble, or pull at the incision site. It only takes a few seconds of you looking away for a disaster to happen. In some cases, your vet can help you ease your pet’s misery with a mild sedative to take the edge off and ease the cone-induced anxiety; just ask if your pet is a candidate for medication.
The cone of shame. It’s an appropriate nickname for E-collars, but whatever you call it and whatever it’s made of, just make it stick.
Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center in Palmer is Alaska’s only comprehensive animal hospital. We are available by appointment, in addition to accepting emergencies and walk-ins. With CT, MRI, and Ultrasound available on-site, our facility provides advanced treatment options for your pet. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Paige Wallace is the Urgent Care Coordinator at Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center. Born and raised right here in the Mat-Su Valley, Dr. Wallace received her education and veterinary training through her service in the United States Army. She served as a Captain with the 218th Medical Detachment Veterinary Service Support, under the 62nd Medical Brigade. Dr. Wallace has extensive experience treating trauma cases in remote areas and with limited resources, bringing a wealth of knowledge and think-on-your-feet experience to the Tier 1 VMC team.