Our dog’s happiness is paramount. And that guilty feeling you have from your dog’s sad stare while wearing a cone is perfectly normal. So is the urge of wanting to remove the cone instantly.
Staying committed to your dog’s recovery post-surgery is vital. Proper recovery includes knowing when to take a cone off a dog after neuter or spaying.
Your dog will recover from neutering or spaying in 10 to 14 days. Keeping a cone on is vital until your dog’s incision fully heals. Cones, also known as Elizabethan or E-collars, prevent dogs from reopening an incision and causing an infection by licking.
It’s natural to want to help your dog by removing the cone, but in the end, taking a cone off only exposes your dog to harm. This article explains those risks and provides advice to ease your dog through a speedy recovery.
Table of Contents
- How long do dogs have to wear a cone after neuter or spaying?
- When can I take my dog’s cone off after neutering?
- Should my dog sleep with a cone after being neutered or spayed?
- Can I take the cone off if my dog sits with me?
- My dog refuses to eat or drink water with a cone on.
- What can I use instead of a dog cone?
How long do dogs have to wear a cone after neuter or spaying?
It’s in a dog’s instincts to lick an injury. A dog’s neuter or spay incision is painful, itchy, and inflamed. To fix an uncomfortable feeling, our dogs only know to lick it or scratch it.
Even when keeping a close watch on your dog, it only takes a split second of a dog’s frantic licking to open a wound or incension.
For that reason, keeping a cone on your dog after neutering and spaying for the entire 10 to 14 days it takes for their incision to heal is vital.
When allowing your dog to go without a cone after surgery, the risks are severe infection and the possibility of removing stitches and reopening the incision.
An open wound is painful for your dog and costs you a trip back to the veterinarian’s office to replace the stitches.
When can I take my dog’s cone off after neutering?
Seeing your dog struggle with the frustrations of wearing a cone will tempt you to remove it for short periods. Remember, over 80% of the nearly 90 million dogs in the US have been spayed or neutered.
Wearing a cone is normal.
By purchasing an Elizabethan collar that’s properly fitted, your dog will become accustomed to wearing it. A loose fitting or improperly sized collar can cause unnecessary discomfort.
An E-collar should be snug but not too tight and extend for two inches past your dog’s nose.
The three common questions we hear when discussing a dog wearing a cone after being neutered or spayed are:
Should my dog sleep with a cone after being neutered or spayed?
Yes, your dog needs to sleep with a cone on after being neutered. Nighttime is one of the best opportunities for your dog to sneak a lick or bite at the incision.
Dogs are intelligent animals, but when waking up to an irritating pain or itch, they only know to attack it. Even if you’re a light sleeper, a dog only takes a moment to create trauma to its incision.
Can I take the cone off if my dog sits with me?
It’s best not to remove the cone, even when your dog sits next to you. Cones are frustrating, but your dog will become used to wearing one.
Without a cone, dogs are more likely to injure the incision from jumping or running. Wearing the cone helps to calm most dogs since an Elizabethan collar makes running and jumping a challenge.
In fact, regularly removing a cone from your dog recreates the discomfort they first felt when placed back on. Plus, your dog is quicker than you, and it only takes one wrong lick or bite to reopen an incision.
My dog refuses to eat or drink water with a cone on. What can I do?
A properly fitting cone should allow dogs to eat and drink. Before removing the cone, try setting their water and food on a pedestal or stand without sides.
Everyday household items that can elevate a food and water bowl providing space for your dog’s cone include:
- A stack of old books (not recommended for water or wet food)
- An Amazon delivery box
- A bench or stool
- Turning over a small empty trash bin
If you can’t find a temporary stand or your dog is being stubborn and is still refusing, you can remove the cone.
A well-balanced diet and access to fresh water help deliver vitamins and minerals to a dog’s body, supporting the body to heal. Always watch your dog closely and never leave their side when a cone is off.
What can I use instead of a dog cone?
My dog becomes a statue the moment we put a cone on her. She stands in the same spot staring. But I’ll confess, she is a bit of a brat.
If your dog also struggles with wearing the classic plastic Elizabethan collar, there are a few options to consider, including:
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Inflatable dog cone
Inflatable dog cones are similar to the neck pillows you bring on road trips and flights. These soft, fluffy cones give your dog more mobility, making them ideal when lounging by your side or eating.
Because inflatable cones increase mobility, some dogs can reach their incision area. It would be best if you only considered inflatable dog cones for temporary relief from an E-collar.
A soft collar is similar in shape and function to the classic plastic E-collar, just in a flexible fabric shape. Soft collars can be less restricting and irritating for sensitive dogs.
Like the inflatable collars, the increased flexibility may allow access to the surgical site, so observing your dog’s reach and behavior is best before letting them out of your sight.
Suitical recovery suit or boxer shorts
Collars don’t work for every dog. When they don’t, you still have options.
Suitical recovery suits are soft fabric onesies that cover a wound and protect your dog from creating trauma to it. Like onesies, surgical recovery suits fasten in the rear with openings for a dog’s tail and legs.
Consult your veterinarian before turning to Suitical recovery suits since it may not be suitable for every male dog.
A pair of boxer shorts can protect the incision area from licking in male dogs. Since female incisions are on the abdomen below the belly button, boxer shorts can irritate the area.
Letting our dog’s sad eyes control our decisions is easy. When making decisions regarding their health and safety, it’s crucial to remain strong.
When falling victim to your dog’s adorableness and removing the cone too early after neuter or spaying, you risk prolonging their discomfort and creating harm.
To recap: When can I take my dog’s cone off after neutering? Once the incision fully heals in 10 to 14 days, you can safely remove a dog’s cone.
If your dog struggles with the standard Elizabethan cone, consider these options for temporary or permanent relief:
- Inflatable dog collar
- Flexible dog collar
- Surgical recovery suit
- Boxer shorts
Surgery recovery is challenging for dogs and dog owners. The responsibilities of inspecting the incision, preventing further harm, and adjusting your dog’s lifestyle post-neuter are tough.
Hormonal changes in dogs caused by neutering can slow the metabolism, causing risks of weight gain in male dogs and some spayed females.
By remaining strict about your dog wearing a cone, recovery will go by quickly. Caving into those sad eyes can prolong recovery, creating discomfort for your dog and more frustrations for you.
Do you have tips to make an Elizabethan collar more comfortable? Share this story and your advice to help others.