How to make a surgery collar for a dog

Updated November 21, 2016

At some point, most dogs will undergo a surgical procedure. During the healing process, some dogs may be prone to chewing or biting at the stitches, staples or incision, which can impede healing or even lead to infection. It's not uncommon for a dog to start biting or licking at an incision several days after the operation, because this is when the incision can start to itch as a result of the healing process. Unfortunately, many dog owners may not have a surgery collar--also known as an "Elizabethan collar," "e-collar" or "lampshade"--on hand when the dog begins biting or licking at the incision. Fortunately, it's fairly easy to create a homemade surgery collar for a dog to protect the pet's surgical incision or wound until the dog owner can visit the veterinarian or pet supply store to purchase a plastic e-collar.

Measure the distance from the dog's collar to the tip of the dog's snout. Multiply this number by 2 and write down the final figure.

Remove the dog's collar and snap or buckle the collar closed as if it were on the dog's neck. The collar should form a circle; measure the diameter of the circle. Write down this figure as well.

Add the final figures from steps 1 and 2. This is the approximate diameter of the circle you will need to create from your cardboard or thin plastic.

Find an overturned trash barrel, pot, pan or other circular item that's close in size to the diameter you need. Trace the similar-sized circle onto the plastic or cardboard and use this as a guide when cutting out a circle for your homemade surgery collar.

Once you've cut out a circle of the proper size, place the dog's collar in the centre of the cardboard or plastic circle. Draw a circle around the collar. You will use your scissors to remove this inner circle.

Once the inner circle is removed, you will be left with a piece of cardboard or plastic in the shape of an O. You must next make one cut extending from the outer edge of the O to the inner edge of the O.

Make several additional cuts on the inner edge of the O. This is the part that will go around the dog's neck, near the dog's collar. Every 1/2 inch, make a cut about 1/2 inch in length. This will create little flaps on the inside edge of the O.

Next, cover each flap on the inner side of the O with a piece of duct tape; this will give the collar some added durability and it will protect the dog's skin from any sharp edges. Also use duct tape to cover the outer edge of the O. It's easiest to cover the outer edge by folding a piece of duct tape over the edge.

Set the soon-to-be surgery collar down on the table; Looking at the inner edge of the O, find flaps located (approximately) at 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock. Poke a hole in each flap.

Place the dog's collar back on his neck. Then, place the surgery collar around the dog's neck; the inner part of the O with the flaps should be in the area of the dog's collar. Use duct tape to secure the cardboard or plastic in a "lampshade" shape by placing tape along the cut that was made in Step 6. You can make the surgery collar a bit tighter by overlapping a bit at the point where the cut was made.

Locate the four holes that were made in the duct tape-covered flaps on the inside of the O. These holes should be right up against the dog's collar. Thread zip ties through each of the holes and use the zip ties to secure the surgery collar to the dog's collar.


The dog may have a difficult time accessing his food and water bowl while wearing the surgery collar. Using a smaller dog bowl or elevating the food or water bowl can help.


Most cardboard surgery collars will last only for a day or two; you may need to make a new one or purchase a plastic surgery collar from your veterinarian or a pet supply store.

Things You'll Need

  • Thin cardboard (such as poster board) or thin, pliable plastic (available at home improvement stores)
  • Scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Zip ties
  • Dog collar
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