Welcome to our complete guide to the dog cone. We help you to identify when and why your Lab might need a cone and to pick the right product to keep them safe and comfortable.
Our pups sometimes require a dog head cone to protect an injured site from that canine instinct to lick or chew at a wound. The Elizabethan collar, otherwise known as an e-collar or even “the cone of shame,” has now been adapted into a variety of styles and materials to suit different doggie needs.
The infamous plastic cone is still an option, but there is also the soft dog cone, the inflatable dog cone, and the fabric dog cone available. So, which is the best? The most suitable choice all depends on your dog’s age, size, and temperament, as well as their neck length and width.
In this article, we’ll take a look at different types of dog cones, as well as alternatives and homemade dog cone ideas.
The Five Best Dog Cones
While we’ve highlighted some of the best dog cones out there, these are five of the top-rated cones available!
1. Comfy Cone
The Comfy Cone by All Four Paws is well-reviewed and owner-recommended. It is highly versatile and comes in a wide range of sizes from extra-small to double-extra-large.
2. KONG Cloud E-Collar
The KONG Cloud E-Collar is inflatable, washable, and scratch and bite-resistant. It comes in five sizes and is suitable for large dogs, like Labradors. What more could you as for!
3. KONG EZ Soft E-Collar
The KONG EZ soft e-collar is made from pliable fabric and has a drawstring closure, which makes it versatile. The fabric also allows your dog to lie down and rest comfortably.
4. Total Pet Health Inflatable Dog Collar
Another durable dog cone is the Total Pet Health Inflatable dog collar. It is bite resistant and washable. And it also comes in four sizes and has an adjustable Velcro closure.
5. SunGrow Comfy Cone
The Sungrow Comfy Cone is a comfortable, fabric cone that allows your pup to move around and sleep easily while still providing protection. The cone comes in seven sizes and has an adjustable neck.
Dog Cone Quick Links
- Comfortable Dog Cones
- Soft Dog Cones
- Inflatable Dog Cones
- Plastic Dog Cones
- Fabric Dog Cones
- Doughnut Dog Cones
- Dog Cone Alternatives
- Homemade Dog Cones
The Importance of Dog Cones
What Is A Dog Cone?
The ancient Egyptians firmly believed that dog saliva had healing powers for dogs, themselves, and also for people. They were so sure of this that they erected “dog licking temples” where people with wounds could go to have those wounds licked by a dog.
Suffice it to say, no ancient Egyptian ever tried to be put a dog cone collar on their canines. In today’s scientific circles, however, debate still tends to side with the cone when it comes to which heals faster and better rather than dog saliva.
Simply put, a dog cone is an aid for healing that discourages contamination, infection, or re-injury of a wound. And it facilitates the fastest possible return to good health for your pooch.
Why Do Pups Need Dog Cones?
In the English language, the phrase “lick your wounds” indicates “to admit defeat.” But it means no such thing to your average canine.
In fact, domesticated dogs and cats are not the only animals that lick themselves to facilitate healing. Many animals in the wild, including rodents and primates, have been observed to lick their own wounds or irritated skin.
Unlike humans, dogs don’t think anything is wrong in licking or scratching any part of their anatomy when something feels different or weird. When something itches, hurts or does not feel right, a dog is going to investigate it no matter who is watching.
No body part is off-limits when your pooch attempts to make the discomfort stop: eyes, ears, tails, feet, skin, buttocks. Hence the dog cone.
In most cases, it is not the licking itself that is the problem. It is the amount of licking (and the impatience to feel better behind that licking) that can cause so many complications during healing for dogs. In your dog’s mind, if one lick is good, 100 licks is sure to be better.
Canine tongues tend to have a coarse texture and can actually damage healing tissue. This licking, or even chewing, can make a wound or a surgical site much worse.
Dog Cone After Surgery
Veterinarians often prescribe a cone for dogs after they have had surgery.
Not only is it naturally hard for your dog to resist licking at a wounded area due to curiosity or discomfort, but when you add in the effects of anesthesia and pain medications, your dog needs all the help they can get to resist re-injuring the wound site while they heal.
Otherwise, it would be quite easy for your dog to pull out the stitches with their teeth and re-open the wound, requiring another trip to the vet for more antiseptic and stitches.
In fact, veterinarians state that failure to use a dog cone collar after surgery is perhaps the number one reason that dog owners have to bring their dogs back for further treatment. As an alternative to repeated return vet visits, using a cone temporarily after surgery is usually a very short-term fix to give the incision site time to heal.
While it may not be the most attractive or comfy accessory, putting your dog in a cone post-surgery is guaranteed to cause less discomfort to them than having to go back to the vet for more care and possibly antibiotics to deal with self-inflicted wounds or infection that are easily preventable.
The key to making the dog cone work for you and your dog is to find the right dog neck cone that fits comfortably so your dog can heal as quickly as possible. So, let’s investigate different types of cones for dogs so you can find the right solution for your precious pup!
The Best Dog Cone
So, what is the best dog cone for your fur baby? The answer is, “It really depends on your dog!”
The good news is that the traditional, hard plastic Elizabethan collar is no longer your only choice of dog cone. Today, you can find an alternative to traditional cones.
And dog cone styles are really limited only by your creativity and imagination (dog cone alternative or DIY dog cone, anyone?).
Best Comfortable Dog Cone
You definitely want your furry best friend to be as comfortable as possible while recovering from surgery or an injury.
A comfy cone for dogs is one that uses softer material, like fabric, as an alternative to the traditional, hard plastic style.
Here are two great examples of a comfy cone for dogs that dog owners rate highly.
The Comfy Cone made by All Four Paws currently comes in eight sizes and two colors. The collar itself is flexible to help your dog pass through doorways without displacing the cone or preventing entry.
Comfy cone also works with your dog’s regular collar so you don’t have to choose one or the other. It’s water-resistant, reflective for outdoor safety, bi-directional, easy to clean, easy to use, and comes with vet endorsements.
Buy your Comfy Cone by All Four Paws here.
Alfie Pet Noah Recovery Collar
Alfie Pet makes a number of soft plush adjustable (velcro) recovery collars that are highly-rated by dog owners, including the Noah Recovery Collar. It comes in a variety of sizes ranging from extra-small to double-extra-large.
These collars are easy to clean, lightweight and won’t interfere with eating and drinking.
Best Soft Dog Cone
A soft dog cone collar may not be the best choice if your dog regularly chews through any new plush toy you give them in the time it takes you to say, “Here, boy!”
But, if you want something soft that won’t cut into their skin or make movement difficult or frustrating during their recovery time, a soft dog cone is probably exactly what you are looking for.
You don’t have to look any further than these two excellent products, both of which come highly recommended by dog owners.
KONG EZ Soft E-Collar
The KONG EZ Soft E-Collar is a great soft dog cone choice for smaller dogs or Labrador puppies.
The soft and pliable fabric comes with an adjustable drawstring closure to fit different neck sizes. Best of all, your dog can lay their head down when they need a rest, and the material will conform to their position without any discomfort.
Alfie Pet Candace Soft Recovery Collar
The Alfie Pet Candace Soft Recovery Collar is flexible enough to allow your pup to easily maneuver through doorways and around furniture. It also permits your dog to lie their head down comfortably in any position.
This soft option comes in two colors and patterns and ranges in size from extra-small to double-extra-large.
Best Inflatable Dog Cone
When you board a plane, how likely are you to catch a quick snooze? The answer to this explains the popularity of the “travel neck pillow,” a contraption that is soft and round like a pillow but curved to fit the shape of your neck.
With an inflatable dog cone, you can offer your pooch the same cozy comfort while they are recuperating. You can inflate it a lot or a little depending on the width and length of your dog’s neck and their sleeping patterns.
These collars make it easy for your dog to rest in total comfort while they are healing.
ZenPet Pro Collar Pet E-Collar
The ZenPet Pro Collar Pet E-Collar comes in six sizes, from extra-small to double-extra-large, and basic black.
This blow-up dog cone comes from 12 years of veterinary testing and high ratings from dog owners behind it. It is easy to inflate and use and the durable canvas is chew-resistant.
KONG Cloud E-Collar
The KONG Cloud E-Collar comes in five sizes in a bright navy-blue. The sizing chart makes it easy to match to your dog’s needs.
The slightly shorter height of the collar makes it easier for your dog to see and avoid obstacles while moving around. And the collar is washable, bite and chew-resistant, and won’t scratch furniture.
Best Plastic Dog Cone
Sometimes, no matter what other alternatives you try, it may seem like your dog is a master destroyer who always finds a way out of any other dog head cone you try. Fabric, padded, inflatable, donut — they are all toast in your dog’s determined jaws.
But the traditional plastic Elizabethan collar still remains the solution for even the most determined canines. This is why, in some cases, it will always remain the go-to protective choice while your dog is healing.
IN HAND Adjustable Recovery Dog Cone
The IN HAND Adjustable Recovery Dog Cone comes in two sizes (medium and large) and two colors (pink and blue).
The plastic parts are lightweight, transparent, and aid in movement. The cone dimensions make this plastic cone an ergonomic and comfort-centric choice.
PETBABA Recovery Clear Cone Collar
The PETBABA Cone Collar is a particularly good choice if you have a young puppy that needs some protection after an injury or surgery.
It comes in two small sizes and two colors (blue and rose) and has a 90-day full warranty.
Best Fabric Dog Cone
It can be hard to warm up to the idea of putting a big hard plastic collar around your dog’s neck, even if it is only for a few days. But what if that collar was made of soft yet durable fabric instead?
This kind of cone is more workable, and it can be more comforting and cozy than plastic. Having said that, you might want to try one of these two options.
KVP EZ Soft Pet Cloth Recovery Collar
The KVP EZ Soft Pet Cloth Recovery Collar offers a unique Lycra-based, cinch-toggle style closure to conform to your dog’s neck size.
It comes in five neck sizes and has a soft yet resistant fabric that repels chewing or tearing. You can also easily machine-wash and reuse this collar.
SunGrow Comfy Cone
The SunGrow Comfy Cone is made from a polyester blend and filled with cotton. It is designed to keep your dog both safe and comfortable.
The cone comes in seven different sizes and has an adjustable neck to adapt to any dog. This fabric cone comes in black with white trim.
Best Doughnut Dog Cone
A dog doughnut cone gives your dog an increased range of vision and movement without the risk that they will do themselves harm by gaining access to the wound or incision site during recovery. It is similar to an inflatable dog cone.
As a side benefit, you can actually see your dog while they wear a donut cone. And it can be less stressful than seeing your dog wearing the so-called “cone of shame” for the period prescribed during recovery.
Here are two possible doughnut cone options you may want to consider.
Total Pet Health Inflatable Veterinarian Approved Dog Collar
The Total Pet Health Inflatable Veterinarian Approved Dog Collar doughnut cone comes in four sizes and in a bright navy blue.
Its material is bite-resistant and washable and is designed to protect your dog from attempts to bite, scratch or lick wounds.
YFFSUN Protective Dog Collar
The YFFSUN Protective Collar is inflatable, adjustable, and has a washable cover. Its soft material is for your dog’s comfort and also to protect your furniture from scratches.
These chew and scratch-resistant donut dog cones come in four sizes, from small to extra-large.
Dog Cone Alternatives
Sometimes, no matter what type of dog cone you try, your pup just doesn’t seem to be able to tolerate it. In the past, this likely meant some hard times for both you and your pooch.
But today, with newer dog cone alternative options that have been developed and tested, you can find other creative barriers that might work better for you both.
The BiteNot Collar is another popular dog cone alternative to the traditional Elizabethan collar and comes in seven sizes.
Its length ensures your dog won’t be able to position themselves to lick or bite at torso or leg wounds. But please note that it won’t be suitable if the injury is to eyes or ears.
Homemade Dog Cone
Maybe you don’t like any of these dog cone collar options or alternatives. Or perhaps you have tried them all and it is your pooch who keeps saying “No, no, no, no and no!”
Is there any possibility of making your own homemade dog cone instead? As luck would have it, the answer here is, “Yes!”
Learning how to make a DIY dog cone is easier than it might sound. This great tutorial from Dogsaholic can teach you how to make a dog cone.
It demonstrates how to make a traditional plastic Elizabethan collar. And the tutorial also covers more DIY dog cone options like using cardboard or poster board, a paper plate collar, a neck pillow cone collar, a soft neck restrictor collar, and a towel soft collar.
This comprehensive tutorial will give you more than sufficient options to find an easy DIY project that works for both you and your pup.
You may even want to make more than one type of homemade dog cone and switch them out, so your dog has some options for rest times and when they’re active, to reduce frustration during healing.
Best Dog Cone: Summary
The ideal cone for your pup will depend entirely on them. Choose a collar that is intended for your dog’s size and that fits comfortably on their neck. Also take into consideration your dog’s habits, sleep preferences, and tolerance level.
A chew resistant cone is not a bad idea, especially if your pup is already a bigger chewer. Some dogs will chew to self soothe and maybe more inclined to try to gnaw on their cone if they are uncomfortable or stressed.
In most cases, your pup may only have to wear a dog head cone or your alternative dog cone of choice for four or five days. Sometimes it may be longer — from 7 to 14 days after surgery — until the sutures can be removed.
While it may seem like an eternity when you are cohabitating with an irritable, healing dog who has a cone on their neck, we promise it will be worth it when your pooch emerges healthy and fully healed to run, play, jump, beg and sleep contentedly (and pain-free!) at your side once more.
There are a variety of choices available these days (comfortable, soft, inflatable and plastic). Remember to go back to the top of the article to see the top options.
What has been your experience with dog cones? And which product did you choose for your dog? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.
References and Resources
- Raison, C., (2016), “Dog Saliva: Healthy or Harmful?” Vet Organics.
- Lichtenberg, D., (2015), “How to Protect Your Pet’s Incision After Surgery,” Petful.
- North Town Veterinary Hospital, (2017), “Keep The Cone On!.”
- Zelztman, P., (Accessed 2019), “The Cone of Shame: Elizabethan Collars and Your Pet,” Pet Health Network.