Best collar for dogs after surgery: not plastic cones!

Puppy in a platic collar

After surgery, your vet will usually give you (or sell you) a large plastic cone to put around your dog’s neck. This is to keep them from chewing on their stitches or scratching them in the case of head injuries. Our dogs never quite seem to get used to them. One of them tries to go through the doggie door with it on, the other actually moves furniture around with the cone! He walks by the table, the table leg catches on the plastic cone, and he just keeps going! Next thing you know the table is being pushed across the floor. (One time he actually jumped the fence and when running down the street … with a plastic cone on his head and 30+ staples in his stomach!) Two potential solutions come to mind:

  1. Hard plastic. If you decide to stay with the hard plastic cone, you can trim the cone. For most dogs, the cone doesn’t actually need to go much beyond your dog’s nose. This works really well for head injuries where you are just trying to keep the dog from scratching their ear, nose or face. Just take the scissors and trim around.
  2. Soft collar. There are a couple of different types of alternative collars like the Comfy Cone or the ProCollar. You can buy these before your dog comes home. Not only is the soft collar more flexible but it has the added benefit of being washable and more durable. (We never get more than one use out of the plastic cones from the vet.)


Any other solutions you know of?

23 comments for “Best collar for dogs after surgery: not plastic cones!

  1. Susan G
    May 26, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    The Cuddle Cone is another good e collar alternative that we’ve used for both our shihtzu and boxer. I’d rate higher than the comfy cone, which is a more abrasive material. Also available on Amazon.

  2. jim mardock
    July 8, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    The dog in the above picture has a blue soft fabric cone which I would like to obtain. Unfortunately this article does not mention what that is ! !

  3. stormy
    July 9, 2015 at 12:05 am

    Jim, how about this one or this one

  4. church
    February 18, 2016 at 11:31 am

    My girlfriend is a vet and the plastic cone is the best and trimming is wrong. 1 if your pet just had surgery and needs a cone, your vet should have told you. All activities outside should be on a leash. 2 if you trim the plastic cone too much the animal may be able to lick the incision open. This is bad because they think they’re helping, but honestly they make it worse. 3 the soft blue cones don’t help they can be folded back while you are unaware and the animal can do damage to themselves. 4 and last move food and water dishes away from the wall and change them to a paper plate or smaller dish. Your dog or cat will get use to the cone and learn how to move with it. Don’t feel it’s cruel or punishment. Think of the well being of your pet.

  5. stormy
    February 18, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Our vet is the one that told us to trim the plastic. I agree, you have to make sure your dog can’t reach the injury.

  6. Smokie
    June 15, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    With the large plastic cone, how can a dog feed or drink if the cone is NOT trimmed.

  7. stormy
    June 15, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    You could take it off for them to eat.

  8. Spla
    June 27, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    For my dog they need to have a hard plastic cone! Not the cheap plastic ones the vet give after surgery. My dog has chewed it up already,he needs a tough & sturdy plastic that he cant bite through or take off

  9. Jillj
    October 26, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    The hard plastic ones from the vet are awful if you have a large dog with a short snout. My American Bulldog ripped hers within 6 hours ramming it into things, so we had to trim it anyway so she wouldn’t injure herself or us on the sharp edges.

  10. Lia Johnson
    February 16, 2018 at 4:22 am

    I’m just looking for a *lighter* plastic cone. I have a Shepherd-mix and he has a long muzzle and his surgery was on his foot — I NEED to have this extend beyond his nose because he is good at maneuvering. (A boxer or Rottie, it wouldn’t matter as much, you can trim if necessary.) And the cone is the only thing that works. I’d think there would be more options on the internet but no luck so far.

  11. Ann Rohrbach
    March 13, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    I am looking for one for my dog. Can I buy it local? or online? Cost

  12. stormy
    March 13, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    You can buy it online from Amazon:

  13. Lisa
    April 12, 2018 at 3:24 am

    My Golden Retriever has a facial wound that is taking forever to heal because of his immune disorders. The soft collars aren’t sufficient because he can fold them back to scratch wound. The Novaguard would be perfect except fitting straps would be right over the wound, causing more irritation. Do you know of any other low profile guards that allow for ears to be free but don’t have interior fitting straps? I found a photo of one that looks similar to the Novaguard, just no interior straps. Unfortunately, there was no product name in the photo. I’m desperate to get my boy another option. 5 weeks in the cone is driving us both crazy. Thank you!

  14. Miranda Stevens-Clay
    April 16, 2018 at 9:40 am

    How about the no-lick neck brace produced by Balto and can be bought through

  15. Cane corso
    June 18, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    I currently purchased and am using calm paws caring collar, premium soft e-collar for dogs. It has flaps that velcrow back for feeding and eating, is a soft material but sturdy, and is machine washable.

  16. Ana
    July 9, 2018 at 11:16 pm

    I googled and found a video on youtube to make an easy DIY ecollar with a towel. That was so comfy , sensible , easy to keep clean and worked well with our giant English Mastiff after his big operation .

  17. November 6, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    My dog just had major surgery and I tried the King Cloud collar just strictly for supervision…. he’s got about 40 stitches and The Cone is the very best thing after a dog has major surgery …when I put the King Cloud collar on just to supervise him.. I turned away for a second and he turned his whole head around and was right on top of stitches ready to lick it open and it was only the second day… this is with supervision …could you imagine if I left him alone with that on… I’ve looked on the internet.. I’ve looked in the stores.. really on the same level as the King cloud…. I figured I would try something again now that he’s getting a little better he has another week….. but they do not work so we’re going to have to endure the cone for another week.. I mean they are the best after surgery on every level ..unless your animal has a small surgical incision on the very top of his body near its head where he can’t get to it….

  18. Andrew
    November 6, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    I highly recommend the Surgi Snuggly collar alternative. We bought the medium long for our 25 lb Doodle after her spaying. Much better than a collar! Can be worn with or without diaper and protects the incision from both licking and rear leg. From Surgi Snuggly 1 Medium Long Pink,…

  19. May 7, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    I have a doodle with hotspot issues. He can chew through his hair and be bleeding in minutes! If we can’t watch him, he needs a cone. He has more of a poodle build—long neck AND long snout and extremely flexible. Soft cones are too warm, block visibility and can sometimes be maneuvered around. In a hard cone would need the length of an XXlarge at least but a medium neck size! A few years ago I found a blue tinted plastic cone from Calm Paws that came in a medium neck but was an EXTRA LONG. It was perfect! Unfortunately, it does not look like they still make them. I have hunted the Internet with no luck at all . I know I am not the only one with this problem. I would pay extra for a custom size.

  20. Mermaidhawk
    June 21, 2019 at 4:28 am

    For hot spots, my vet recommended Milk of Magnesia and it works .If they lick it, it will not hurt them. Apply as often as needed but it only took a couple of times for my dog’s to be non itchy and/or gone. I have a clear cone on my dog tonight for her surgery and it is heartbreaking. It seems so tight. I may try something else.

  21. mandy
    June 23, 2019 at 10:09 am

    our dog wears the soft blue collar as a cape. The larger plastic cone is too wide to get into her normal sleeping accomodate and the smaller one she discovered how to take it off within 4 hours! We had to resort to a full body suit .
    Our dog has a catheter. She needs protection to stop her licking in the groin area (where the catheter exits her body) and some covering to store the other end of her catheter so that it does not drag on the ground (where it might get dirty and cause infection, or she might tread on it an pull it out.)She is large labrador size. We are currently using suitical whole body suit but would prefer something that allows her to wash the parts not needing protection (legs and upper body) and to defacate without removing the protection. Unfortunately suitical is not really right for her as she destroys the fabric when trying to scratch.

  22. Louisa
    August 12, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Collars should be shaped better under chin so dog can rest and eat properly, they big plastic collars are a disgrace for dogs they are not even transparent, the dog is as good as a horse with blinkers in and it makes the slabber with the heat.

  23. Linda
    February 8, 2020 at 11:46 pm

    Just bought a Calm Paws Protective Collar. My lab husky has had it on for about three hours. It allows him to move around well and not have hard bumps into people and objects. Caught him laying on his side with his head to his butt area, near the wound. Back to that awful plastic cone. It makes me want to use my creative juices to design something else. I might just do that.

    Linda in Charleston

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