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Cone of Shame: 5 Vet-Approved Alternatives 

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 by Dogster Team

a beagle wearing an elizabeth collar at home

Cone of Shame: 5 Vet-Approved Alternatives 


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

BVM BVS MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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The cone of shame, also known as the Elizabethan collar, is a protective medical device worn by pets to prevent them from biting, licking, or otherwise accessing a healing wound or injury. As useful as the cone of shame is, not all dogs take to them very well. Some dogs will be extremely distressed to have their daily routine disrupted by their cone of shame so that might consider an alternative for them instead. Read on to find five cone alternatives to determine which might work best for your pup as they recover.

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What Does a Cone of Shame Do?

The Elizabethan collar is shaped like a truncated cone to isolate the healing animal’s head. They’re named after the ruffled collars commonly worn during the Elizabethan era. The device generally attaches to the collar with tabs or strings and, if installed properly, should still allow the animal to eat, drink, and play. The goal of the cone is to keep a healing wound or surgical site clean and free from doggy drool, nibbling, and general tampering.

The 5 Cone of Shame Alternatives

1. Inflatable E-Collars

corgi with protective inflatable collar around its neck
Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock

Inflatable e-collars look much like the pillows you see around traveler’s necks at the airport, but they’re inflatable instead of being plush and stuffed with filling like beans. These donut-style collars are still cumbersome, but they provide your pet with a less obstructed view of their world than the traditional cone of shame. The downside is that some dogs can still get to their wounds despite the collar, especially if the dog in question has a long nose or if the wound is at the back of the dog’s body.

2. Soft Collars

Soft collars are similar to traditional Elizabethan collars, except instead of being made of rigid plastic, they feature a much softer and tear-resistant material. This style is generally more comfortable and can make it easier for your dog to get around while wearing it. They typically fasten with Velcro tabs to help you get the right fit for your pet and will attach to your dog’s collar just like regular Elizabethan collars. The downside is that they’re so soft and flexible that they won’t always provide the protection required for a determined dog.

3. Padded Donut Collars

a padded donut collar
Image Credit: Brad K Covington, Shutterstock

Padded donut-style collars look similar to their inflatable counterparts, but they’ll have a softer, padded construction instead of being filled with air. They’re the closest thing you’ll get to a comfy air travel neck pillow for your pet as they recover. The disadvantage to this style is that the rings need to be larger around to prevent your pet from getting at their injury site.

4. Recovery Sleeves

Recovery sleeves operate just like the suits above, except they’re designed to be worn on the leg. They’re a great choice for dogs recovering from leg injuries as they allow for regular freedom of movement and no visual restriction. Of course, they have the same drawbacks as recovery suits, as they can be flimsy and destroyed by a determined pup.

5. Recovery Suits

dog wearing a recovery suit after surgery
Image Credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

Recovery suits are a great cone of shame alternative for injuries or surgical sites on the torso. They look like little legless babygrows and work by covering the entire area that needs protection. They’re great as they don’t restrict the head movement at all and still allow your dog to move about freely. Of course, recovery suits don’t come without drawbacks. Because they’re most often made of a cotton blend material, determined dogs and aggressive chewers can destroy them or lick through them.  They are also a bit tricky when dog’s go to the toilet as they need to be hoisted up for toilet breaks.  Getting more than one is a good idea in case of any accidents like this.

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Final Thoughts

The cone of shame is more than an embarrassment for some dogs; it’s a daily life disrupter that can make them miserable. If your vet is strongly recommending you use an Elizabethan collar for your dog, but they’re just not taking to it well, feel free to try one of the five other options above. Keep in mind that not all of the styles will work for all dogs or all injuries, so be mindful as you choose which to try for your pet.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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