When to Take a Cone Off a Dog After Neuter

Seven days is the standard amount of time for taking a cone off after neuter, but before taking action, determine whether the incision is inflamed and if your dog will ignore it.

Sick feeling Goldendoodle puppy resting with a cone around its neck.
The cone’s curved shape and thick plastic prevent licking after a dog’s been neutered. Some dogs manage just fine with their cones, while other more energetic dogs seem uncomfortable with the restricted movement. © EyeWolf/Getty Images

In general, a dog’s cone can usually be removed seven days after surgery but depends on several factors, says Dr.Natalie Isaza, owner of Access Veterinary Services  in Florida. “First and foremost, follow your veterinarian’s instructions before removing the cone,” she says.

What to consider before taking a cone off

Although it’s tempting to take the cone off early because your dog may not like it around his neck, removing it too early can cause more harm than help. Before removing your dog’s cone after his surgery, ask yourself this series of questions to see if your dog is ready:

  • Does your dog tend to lick at his skin even when there has been no surgery?
  • Does the incision site look red and inflamed?
  • Is there a discharge from the surgery site?
  • Are the stitches visible or “buried” under the skin? Dogs enjoy chewing on stitches.

If any of these are true, leave the cone on longer, Dr. Isaza says. And if there is any sign of infection, contact your vet immediately as your sweet boy might need an antibiotic.

Care tips for after taking the cone off

When you decide your dog is ready, check off these steps to manage his new cone-free lifestyle.

  • Monitor closely for the next few hours.
  • If your dog appears depressed or lethargic, this might indicate an infection.
  • If he licks or bothers the surgical site, put the cone back on, and contact your veterinarian for further instructions.

Why is a cone important after neuter?

The thick plastic design prevents licking or injury. Some dogs acclimate beautifully and others not so much. Highly energetic dogs often dislike the restriction. Some opaque plastics interfere with vision and can cause panic, she says.

“There are other alternatives to an Elizabethan collar (a cone) that may be better,” says Dr. Isaza. Ask your vet about options like an inflatable donut worn around the neck or a BiteNot Pet Collar.

Following your vet’s instructions to the “T” alongside careful monitoring of the surgery site determines when to remove your friend’s cone.

1 thought on “When to Take a Cone Off a Dog After Neuter”

  1. I removed my dog's cone just before his wound was completely healed. Thankfully, it was healed enough because he immediately went to bitting the incision site. The wound had healed enough that this wasn't a huge deal. He didn't reopen the wound as it had essentially closed. But he did bit off enough skin that he started to bleed the tinniest amount. https://iheartdoodledogs.com/

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