The cone of shame is usually given to dogs after surgery or other medical procedures to stop them from fussing with, licking, chewing and potentially ripping out their stitches, which can cause anything from scarring to major medical complications.
While it is often necessary for them, and rather comical to look at, wearing an Elizabethan cone can be annoying or even a bit distressing for dogs, being unable to do certain things such as clean themselves or even fit through gaps that they normally would.
While this cone is not permanent, what is the typical rule of thumb for dealing with them? And can you leave your dog alone when they are wearing a cone?
Can I leave my dog alone with a cone on? It is not recommended to leave your dog alone for long periods of time when wearing a cone. If you can, try and take your dog with you so you can keep an eye on them, or leave him with someone else that you trust, such as another family member, dog sitter or neighbour.
But what kind of risks are there with cones? What dangers do you need to watch out for, and how can you help your dog manage wearing their cone until they have fully healed?
Can I leave my dog alone with a cone on?
“The cone” is a common medical item that is often vital to the recovery of a dog from surgery or other conditions that could be made worse from biting, scratching or licking.
While it is very common, it isn’t the most elegant of solutions and thus can be rather difficult for your dog to get used to.
While it is understandable if you cannot stay at home with your dog, because of your work and other social commitments, it is important to keep an eye on your dog when they are wearing the cone, especially initially – don’t leave them alone with a cone on.
When your dog is getting used to the cone, they may struggle to do certain things at first and may need your help, so during the first day they are wearing it try and not leave them unsupervised.
However, as time progresses your dog will become used to how to manoeuvre around the house with their cone with minimal collisions and incidents.
Try and take your dog with you to work and other places so that you can be sure they are comfortable and not getting into trouble when left alone. If you cannot do that then try and find a friend, family member, neighbour or dog sitter to either stay at home with them or take them in during the day. You can also check whether it is possible to leave them at the vets during the day.
Handy Hint: If you do leave your dog home alone I recommend leaving music on for them. Research shows that listening to certain genres of music can calm dogs down.
Can I leave my dog home alone with a cone on?
No, you should not leave your dog home alone with a cone on. If you are forced to leave your dog at home alone with a cone on, try and check on them throughout the day, either yourself or getting someone else to do it for you.
You can also install a webcam at home so you can periodically check on your dog from your computer when you are out of the house.
Is it okay to leave a dog in a crate with a cone on?
If your dog sleeps in a crate or stays in there when you are out of the house, then when they have a cone fitted you should not leave them in their crate. Depending on the size of your dog and the size of the cone, they may well not be able to fit into the crate or will have difficulty turning around or getting out once they are inside.
This can lead to them getting stuck and stressed out, also creating a real danger risk if you are out of the house. The same goes for not keeping your dog’s collar on when they sleep in a crate. It’s dangerous.
Keeping your dog in a crate all day isn’t the best idea, as it can cause claustrophobia, separation anxiety and restlessness from not being able to expel any energy. This will be magnified when they are wearing a cone in their crate.
If you are forced to crate your dog when you are out of the house, try and get a dog walker, friend or neighbour to come in at some point during the day to take them outside to go to the toilet, feed them and take them for a walk.
If your dog cannot fit inside their crate because of their cone, other alternatives can be found, such as leashing them to a solid object (that they can’t pull around, unlike a table) and making the area around it comfortable for them to lie and sleep on.
Another alternative can be to gate off a room of your house for them to stay in, giving them more room to walk around and not confining them to a very small crate that can be difficult to move around in when wearing a cone.
If you do this, make sure that your dog has enough to keep itself entertained and that you remove any valuable items or breakable objects that could be knocked over by your dog’s cone.
Can my dog sleep with a cone on?
When your dog is first fitted with their cone, they may struggle to get to sleep. This can be because they may be uncomfortable or because they are unable to sleep in their normal sleeping place.
If your dog is unable to get to sleep, make sure the cone is fitted correctly so that it isn’t digging in when they try and lie down, and try distract them from their urge to itch by cooling down the irritated area with a spray bottle, ice packs or applying topical creams recommended to you by your vet.
If your dog isn’t comfortable sleeping in their normal bed or crate with a cone on, try and create an alternative sleeping area that is able to accommodate their cone.
Alternative cones are available, acting like cushions that are far more comfortable to sleep in than the typical hardened plastic cones.
If you aren’t able to get one of these more modern cones and find that your dog is unable to sleep in their prescribed cone, you can also make a more comfortable night-time alternative out of a folded towel that can then be wrapped around their neck and fastened in place with durable tape.
How to make a dog cone more comfortable
The problem with Elizabethan cones is that, because they are made of hardened plastic, they aren’t very comfortable to wear. The edges can dig into your dog’s neck, especially if it isn’t well fitted, and can also prove uncomfortable to sleep in.
To make sure that your dog is completely comfortable when wearing a cone, make sure that you have properly constructed and fitted it, that it is secure, doesn’t move about and is comfortably sitting around the dog’s head without it moving around too much or digging in.
If your dog is noticeably uncomfortable in their cone, ask your vet for advice on how to refit it, or for any more comfortable alternatives.
Here are some that I recommend…
This is a soft, padded cone with foam-backing that provides comfort while remaining effective. Water-resistant and easy to clean, its Velcro fasteners allow it a custom fit and easily removable by owners. Veterinarian tested and approved, this cone comes in a range of different sizes and two different colours: black and tan.
Being inflatable, they provide comfort whilst also preventing your dog from biting its stitches or wounds. It doesn’t obstruct the dog’s face, meaning that it can move about far easier and happily eat and drink without difficulty.
Easy to clean, easy to put on and easy to remove, this cone is durable and easy to store when you no longer need it. It comes in a range of sizes, meaning that it is suitable for any size of dog.
An alternative to cones, this bodysuit means that your dog doesn’t have to be confined within a plastic cone that obstructs their vision and movement. Made of a breathable material and available in a number of sizes for all sizes and breeds of dog, the recovery suit stops your dog from scratching or biting their stitches. They are also great for dogs prone to hot spots and skin irritation.
A soft cone that is incredibly durable, easy to use and made of water-resistant Oxford cloth, meaning that it is easy to clean with soap and water. A secure yet comfortable alternative to plastic cones, it comes in many different sizes and with its Velcro straps allowing it a custom fit to any kind of dog.
How long should dog wear cone after surgery?
The length of time your dog needs to wear their cone depends on what procedure they have had, as well as their own personal recovery time. Cones should usually be only taken off once the wound has fully healed or has healed enough for it not to be irritating them anymore, so that they won’t be tempted to bite or scratch it once it has been removed.
If your dog has stitches, it is usually recommended to wait until the stitches have been removed. If you are unsure, ask your vet for an estimate for when your dog should be okay to remove the cone.
It will take your dog some time to get used to wearing a cone, and you should not leave them alone during this period, or let them sleep in their crate with it. However, there are some alternatives to cones which can make the whole process so much easier!
I wish your dog a full and speedy recovery!
Handy Hint: If you have a female dog who has recently been spayed, here’s how long it should take her to recover.