Dog Cone Not Working? (Here Are 6 Better Alternatives)

dog cone not working

I remembered the first time I put on a cone on my dog. He had a skin infection on his body which was causing him some itch and he was constantly biting at the itchy spots

The second I clipped the cone around his head, it looked like I left my car in reverse gear. My poor dog was walking backwards and whimpering for a good few minutes. As funny as it was, I couldn’t help but feel bad for him.

For many dog owners, there are times when our dogs need to use a cone. But what other alternatives do we have if the dog cone isn’t working out great?

Let us find out.

What Is The Purpose Of The Cone?

dog wearing dog cone

The cone, also known as the Elizabethan collar, is a device that helps to prevent an animal from causing more damage or trauma to an injury, wound or surgical incision that they can reach with their mouths. It can also prevent your dog from licking up topical creams like Lidocaine which can be toxic to dogs.

The cone should not be too loose or it can easily come off nor should it be too tight and choke your dog.

The Elizabethan collar, also known as the ‘e collar’ or cone of shame, wasn’t invented by a woman called Elizabeth.

It got its name from the ruffs that people who lived in the Elizabethan era wore as part of their daily outfits.

Pet owners that I’ve spoken to dread putting it on their pets due to the stress and confusion that it causes. In fact, the University of Sydney concludes that the e-collar actually has a negative impact on our pet’s life.

Unfortunately, it is considered a necessary evil by many vets and pet owners.

But what if it reaches a point whereby the e-collar puts so much stress on your dog that it just refuses to eat or go about its daily routine?

Here are some methods that you can try out to see which works best for your dog.

1. The E-Collar Isn’t A Ball And Chain

Most vets will tell you to leave the cone or e-collar on for the whole day and until the dog gets better.

But from my experience, I found that that wasn’t necessary for my dog. I understand that vets tell this to dog owners for liability reasons and to promote faster recovery. But I only used it on my dog when I knew that there was a greater chance of him aggravating the infected spots.

I take off the e-collar when I take my dog out for a walk or when he is eating. During these activities, I know that he is too mentally occupied to be bothered about his current discomfort.

In fact, most dogs will get easily distracted by minor activities so do what you can to not let your dog get restless or bored too much.

When I am home with him, the cone stays off if I am able to watch him like a hawk to make sure that he doesn’t start biting at the itchy spots.

However, if I’m unable to supervise him 100% during this recovery period, I will put on the cone till I can.

No, it didn’t transform my dog into a cone-wearing fanatic overnight but it did help alleviate the stress of having it on all the time.

So I did what I could to meet my dog halfway.

2. Try A Different Type Of Cone

The next time you are at a pet store, take a look at the different types of cones or e-collars that they have for sale.

The traditional e-collar was this dreary-looking plastic cone that you secure around your dog’s neck. Truth be told, it really does look and feel uncomfortable if you were to put it on. It restricts your vision and feels claustrophobic.

I don’t blame my dog for hating it.

These days, you can get inflatable collars or soft e-collars that are so much more comfortable for your dog.

The inflatable collar is the go-to comfy cone for me if I do need one on my dog. It looks like a swimming tube that you put around your dog’s neck. You need to choose one that is large enough or your dog can still get to its injury.

It doesn’t freak out my dog that much and it is made of materials that are gentler on the dog’s skin. Did I mention that there are so many fun designs to choose from as well?

I didn’t have as much luck with the soft collar as it still resembles the traditional e-collar but it is made of soft fabric instead.

If your dog isn’t a fan of the old plastic collar, then the soft collar will be a better alternative.

3. Use Your Own Clothes

I got this great tip from my neighbor, Casey, who fosters dogs from the local shelter. What she does for dogs that hate wearing the cone is to make a protective garment out of old sweatpants or even with male underwear.

Put on male underwear on your dog but with the opening facing upwards. This allows the tail to go through the opening and helps to hold the underwear in place.

If you have a pair of old sweatpants that you no longer use, you can cut it up into a pair of shorts and use it the same way as the underwear. Just don’t forget to get a hole for the tail to go through.

This isn’t a fool-proof method as it just helps to prevent licking or nibbling at the affected area. But it won’t prevent your dog from biting it.

You still need to watch your dog just to make sure it doesn’t try anything funny.

4. Surgical Vest

surgical vest for dog

A surgical vest or recovery suit works in a similar way as your used clothing. However, the above method works better for areas that are located in the lower extremities of your dog.

But what if your dog has a wound or incision site that is closer to its shoulders or front legs?

A surgery vest or recovery suit is like a onesie that is able to cover your dog’s body. They come in various materials and designs depending on your needs.

This is better than slapping on a t-shirt on your dog because it fits a lot better. It also does a good job of stopping your dog from licking antiseptic lotions like Blu Kote.

It isn’t advisable for your dog to have the vest or suit on the whole day as it can get warm underneath the material. So make sure to consult the vet and the manufacturer before using it on your dog.

5. Doggie Diapers

doggie diaper alternative to dog cone

Doggie diapers are often used on dogs that are suffering from a medical condition that causes urinal or fecal incontinence.

It can be really troublesome for the dog owner to be cleaning up after the dog so dog diapers do help a great deal.

Dog diapers are a good way to prevent your dog from biting or licking any part of its lower body. It is thicker than fabric so it can offer better protection.

Furthermore, dog diapers can be fastened with velcro for a good fit on your dog’s bottom.

6. Basket Muzzles

dog wearing basket muzzle

This is something that I’ve not tried before but it seemed to work well for some dog owners that I’ve spoken to.

By putting a basket muzzle on your dog, it prevents them from getting too much access to the prohibited area.

They can still lick and nibble at the area but it won’t be as drastic if they didn’t have a basket muzzle on. Not all muzzles will work well or this method.

Although the basket muzzle will make your dog look like the evil villain, Bane, from Batman, it gives your dog enough room to pant, drink and eat small treats.

tom hardy bane GIF

This is a lot better than the soft muzzles that tend to hold the dog’s mouth too tightly together. Most dogs would prefer to be wearing a basket muzzle.

The same practice applies when using the basket muzzle. It doesn’t have to be on the whole day and definitely do not leave it on when your dog is turning in for the night.

You can switch it out to something more comfortable like the surgical vest or inflatable collar.


As an animal lover, I am thankful that there are more comfortable ways to prevent our dogs from aggravating a wound or surgical site.

Given that e-collars have been proven to make our pet’s life miserable, it would be advisable to try out other alternatives first before having to settle for the traditional e-collar.

Leave a Comment