You're in the vet's office and Dr. Jones utters, with empathy, that Fido will have to wear an e-collar. Fido's tail stops wagging for the first time...ever. You gulp, dreading the thought. Everyone knows there's nothing more pitiful that a pet wearing the "cone of shame." What many pet owners don't know is that there are alternative options when it comes to protective collars for their pet.
First and foremost, it's important to understand that like it or not, your pet needs the protective collar for a reason. This is an area of pet ownership when tough love is the best love. Also, several factors, including your pet's species, breed, body conformation, and the purpose of the collar, will dictate what type of collar is appropriate.
The most common protective collar is an Elizabethan Collar. These are sturdy plastic cones that create a physical barrier designed to keep your pet from licking or chewing a particular area of the body. They are relatively durable and easy to clean, and come in a variety of colors and textures including clear and frosted. These are excellent for pets with long necks and long muzzles as they are able to reach most areas of the body with ease.
Another type of protective collar is the Kong Cloud. This inflatable collar fits comfortably around a pet's neck without obstructing their peripheral vision or interfering with eating and drinking. It is an excellent choice for pets with short muzzles as it restricts their already limited reach. Easy to clean and relatively durable, this is a surprisingly affordable alternative to the traditional collars.
If you need to prevent your cat from bothering with the shoulder or neck area, a soft e-collar can be just what the...veterinarian...ordered. These collars are made of fabric and do not particularly limit reach. They do, however, flex with movement to cover areas of the upper body and prevent your feline companion from accessing wounds, incisions, etc.
If your pet is particularly large or clumsy, or requires a protective collar for an extended period of time (typically greater than two weeks), you might consider a Comfy Cone. Shaped like a traditional plastic Elizabethan collar, Comfy Cones are constructed of semi-flexible foam and a soft fabric cover. These provide the same barrier as a plastic Elizabethan collar but are more comfortable for your pet to wear. Another benefit is if your pet walks into a doorway or piece of furniture, this collar will flex and bend rather than snag or mar surfaces.
One final option is the BiteNot Collar. It is made of the same rigid plastic as the traditional Elizabethan collar but fits close to the neck, which permits clear peripheral vision and eating and drinking without inference. Durable and easy to clean, this collar is an excellent choice for persistent pets who "escape" other types of collars.
Keep in mind that your pet's veterinarian should be part of the process when deciding which protective collar is best and remember that all pets should be monitored while wearing such collars. Also, pets may be able to get around certain barriers and you may need to try several types of protective collar before finding the right one for your pet.
So the next time your vet mentions a protective collar, you might consider one of these options as they apply to your pet's individual situation. Besides, hasn't s/he heard enough jokes about wearing the lampshade and getting satellite reception through their "cone?"