The "Cone of Shame": What Is An Elizabethan Collar?
Sun, April 18, 2021

The "Cone of Shame": What Is An Elizabethan Collar?

 

Known as the “cone of shame,” Elizabethan collars or e-collars are often used in veterinary practices and is shaped like a cone or a lampshade, as said by a staff author of The Spruce Pets, a pet website. The cones are fitted to pets, preventing them from licking, biting, scratching their wounds or other injured areas. Elizabethan collars can be uncomfortable and a bother for your pet. It is understandable that your pet needs some sort of protection to let its wounds heal; however, there are a variety of alternatives that are less bothersome than Elizabethan collars.  

The Welfare Implications of Using An Elizabethan Collar On Dogs and Cats (February 2020)

Overall, 434 participants complete the survey, with most of them coming from Australia (66.6%) while the remainder of the respondents from the UK, USA, NZ, South Africa, Ireland, and Sweden (29.3%), according to Yustina Shenoda and colleagues of biomedical and life sciences journal portal PMC. 36.4% of owners said their animal wore the Elizabethan collar for a duration of 72 hours to seven days. 57.4% of animals were required to wear the Elizabethan collar to protect a surgical site on the body or to prevent self-trauma due to a skin condition (19.1%).

Elizabethan collars interfered with a number of daily activities for most animals wearing them. For instance, 60.2% of participants said their pet had difficulties drinking while wearing the collar while 17.1% said their pet could not perform this activity while the collar was in place. 67.5% said the Elizabethan collar interfered their animal’s ability to play. Degree of interference with playing comprised of not being able to play at all (19.1%), having trouble playing (28.8%) or needing assistance to play (19.6%). 10.4% of owners said the collar interfered with “other” activities such as toileting, self-grooming, and more.

70.5% of owners said they did not need to resize or replace the collar during the time the Elizabethan collar was worn. A smaller proportion of respondents (28.1%) said they did. They replaced the collar due to wear and tear, physical damage, and more. About 25% reported their animal experiencing an Elizabethan collar-related injury. Among those who reported injury to their companion animals due to the Elizabethan collar, the owners cited itching/irritation (61.1%) and “other” (23.9%). The latter included trauma due to bumping into walls or objects, falling downstairs, and psychological distress.

54.1% of participants removed the Elizabethan collar when the animal was under supervision whereas 24.9% removed it for certain activities such as when it is fed or given water. Just over half used an alternative to the Elizabethan collar to achieve the same purpose. For example,  some respondents used inflatable collars (27.6%), t-shirt or wrap (24.2%), local dressing (17.5%) or other (9.4%). The latter category included commercially produced visors, cones, or boots, etc.

 

 

The History of the Elizabethan Collar

The use of Elizabethan collars in veterinary medicine can be traced as far as 1897, referring to them as “puzzles.” Akin to the ruffs worn during the time of Queen Elizabeth, these tools have an inner (situated around the neck) and an outer flange (rim of the collar). The funnel opening of the device can be directed cranially or caudally. Elizabethan collars for companion animals (circa 1906) were manufactured from wood, leather, or steel. Presently, Elizabethan collars are commercially available and are predominantly manufactured from rigid plastic. Softer plastic collars are available, however. The collars are sized differently and can be chosen based on the animal’s size, temperament, conformation, and the location of the wound.

 

 

Why Does My Pet Need to Wear An Elizabethan Collar?

Dogs and cats experiencing pain or pruritis may lick, chew, bite, or scratch the wound. Self-trauma can lead to inflammation and abrasion or excoriation. Potential secondary infection may also lead to pruritis. Elizabethan collars are also used post-operatively to prevent suture removal or it can be used as a non-pharmaceutical method of preventing pets from self-mutilation and self-trauma.

How Long Will It Take for My Pet to Get Used to Wearing An Elizabethan Collar?

Your dog will get used to the collar after a few hours, said Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM and Ernest Ward, DVM of VCA, an operator of over 1,000 animal hospitals in the US and Canada. As for cats, your feline will resent the collar at first but give it time to get used to the device, noted Llera and Ward. It is important to supervise your cat or dog for at least a few hours to prevent injury. It is not advisable to let your pet outside since the Elizabethan collar restricts its field of vision and gets easily caught in objects. Keep your pet indoors as much as possible, but if you need to let it out, be sure to supervise it.

My Pet Is Uncomfortable, Are There Any Alternatives to E-Collars?

The alternative must be practical, affordable, effective, and comfortable. No one tool can have all these characteristics so choose which options are more suitable for your dog or cat. Soft e-collars, for example, are more comfortable since it is made from a combination of nylon and foam material. Soft e-collars give your pet more freedom of movement, but they can be chewed or tugged by your pet.

Coming in different designs, inflatable e-collars can be in the shape of an airplane pillow that can be placed around the animal’s neck. Inflatable e-collars, however, do not extend beyond your pet’s shoulders. This can be a comfortable alternative, especially when your pet has an upper-body injury. Pet clothing protects the wound by preventing your cat or dog from moving its head or reaching its wound to scratch it. In most cases, the garments cover the site with “specially designed clothing items.” One example is the “Suitical Recovery Suit.” It is a vet-approved alternative that can withstand chewing and tugging. Neck control collars are another alternative, but they can be cumbersome for your pet.

 

 

Are There Any DIY Options?

Yes, there are. For example, some mellow or small cats can be suitable for DIY options. You can create one using children’s sweatshirts or from towels or other types of fabric. Ensure that that the fabric is secure but not tight so that your pet is comfortable wearing it.

 

It’s up to owners whether they choose to let their pet wear an Elizabethan collar. There are alternatives to e-collars, but comfort should be a top priority.