When a dog or cat has a wound, stitches, or hot spots that need to heal, placing an Elizabethan collar or E-collar (plastic cone) around the neck will prevent the pet from licking or biting the area. The following are tips for making the Elizabethan collar experience more tolerable for both you and your pet.
Choose an Elizabethan collar that is the right size for your pet. They come in a variety of sizes and are usually measured in centimeters from 7.5 to 40 and are adjustable. Some come in small, medium, large, extra large and king. If you are getting the collar from a vet's office, they will know the right size.
Slip the small side over your pet's head. Make sure to pull your pet's ears all the way through so that the collar doesn't bend them. Also, turn the collar so that there isn't a plastic loop directly under your pet's neck.
Pull the drawstring and tie it in a bow, making sure it's not too tight. The string can also be attached through your dog's regular collar. Some come without a string closure and can be attached directly to the regular collar, and some just attach on their own.
Pat your pet's head once the collar is on and talk sweetly to assure him it's not a punishment. You may also want to give him a treat to make the experience more positive. Watch him eat the treat in case pieces break off into the cone that he can't get to.
Clear spaces and walkways in your house wide enough for your pet to get through with the collar on. Also, keep in mind that when you arrive home your pet will walk up to the door and you will probably have to coax her back in order to open the door.
Make sure your pet is able to access food and water. You may need to raise the bowls if they are not already elevated. Observe how your pet manages eating with the collar on. It may be necessary to remove it just for the meal.
Check to see that your pet can rest his head and sleep comfortably with the collar on.
You can purchase an Elizabethan collar from a veterinarian, pet supply store or online. Vets will often send your pet home with one after surgery. In addition to hard plastic, Elizabethan collars also come in soft plastic, nylon or a paper-like fabric for more comfort. Some come with a padded outer edge for comfort and to prevent damage from colliding into objects. There are also inflatable E-collars (see Resources below). Some E-collars are adjustable and don't have to be slipped over the pet's head. Some pets raise a fuss with the collar, whereas others don't seem to mind at all.
In the beginning, expect some banging into furniture, walls, the floor and your legs--until your pet gets used to the collar.