Ah, the cone of shame. If your dog hasn’t experienced it yet, she will soon. Designed to protect your dog’s wounds, injuries, and stitches from her own curious teeth, the cone of shame — ahem, the recovery collar — is a must-have. But some recover collars are more dignified than others and allow for more freedom. Because my Alaskan shepherd, Eira, is getting spayed this September, I have been searching high and low for the best recovery collar for her. She’ll have to wear it for two weeks after her surgery. Why? Because her stitches will begin to get itchy and oh-so-nibble-able at around day 6 or 7 — peak healing time — and she’ll need to keep it on until the itching goes away several days later.
It will be an interesting time, to be sure. I’ve found several different products that will help Eira recover while still maintaining some of the abilities she enjoys every day, and I’m excited to share them with you!
A quick note before we begin: recover collars are also called recovery cones or even e-collars. NOT to be confused with electric collars, the ‘e’ in e-collar actually stands for Elizabethan collar, because of this:
Queen Elizabeth I in her dog recovery cone-esque lace collar.
Funny, isn’t it? But also confusing! We definitely do not recommend electric collars, but Elizabethan collars can do great things for your recovering dog.
Things to Look for in a Good Recovery Collar
There are certain features in a recovery collar that are crucial to your dog’s comfort. Before you buy any e-collar, make sure that you’ve checked through this list to see if the collar takes these features into consideration.
A Secure Yet Comfortable Closure
The best recovery collars fit snugly behind your dog’s regular collar. This keeps the collar from cinching around your dog’s neck and pinching or choking her. Recovery collars should come with adjustable sizing to fit your dog’s individual needs, and the velcro or whatever material used should be secure enough to stay closed until you want the cone to come off.
Material That Allows Your Dog Maneuverability
Imagine wearing a stiff plastic cone around your neck that caused you to bump into doorways, walls, and table legs, jabbing your skin every time. How uncomfortable would that be? It’s the same for your pup! If you want your dog to be as comfortable as possible, purchase an e-collar that isn’t made of rigid plastic. Choose a soft collar that protects your dog’s injury but allows some give when bumped up against walls and furniture.
Make Sure Your Dog Can Still See
There’s nothing worse than having not only your normal range of motion taken away but also your range of sight. Even though dogs don’t solely rely on their eyes to “see” things, their eyes do help them pick up important cues from their environment. Old-fashioned cones of shame block dogs from seeing much of anything but what’s in front of them. Thankfully, there are now plenty of options that allow for at least a little bit of your dog’s usual range of vision.
Ensure Your Dog Cannot Reach Her Stitches or Injury
Some of the e-collars and recovery vests on the market look better than traditional e-collars in theory, but you need to make sure they truly block YOUR pet from reaching her stitches or injury site. After neutering — especially for female dogs (but of course also for male dogs) — it is absolutely crucial to keep your dog from picking at her stitches. If she opens them, her intestines can come loose, and such trauma could be fatal. A good way to make sure a collar will work before you purchase it is to measure your dog according to the collar’s sizing chart, and also to check if the collar is veterinarian-approved.
Get Used to the Idea of the Collar Being on 24/7 for Two Weeks
When you’re purchasing your e-collar, keep in the front of your mind that your dog will be wearing it for two entire weeks, pretty much without a break. It’s that important to keep the collar on until the minimum recovery time has been met. That should help guide you to the best choice for your pet!
Without Further Ado: The Best Recovery Collars On the Market
Now that you know some recover-collar basics, it’s time to find out: which are the best recovery collars on the market? Which one did I pick for Eira for when she gets spayed later this fall?
The Original Comfy Cone Soft Pet Recovery Collar
While I didn’t choose this one for Eira because I wanted her to be able to see, I nearly chose the Comfy Cone Soft Pet Recovery Collar. It’s made from padded nylon that’s water-repellent, soft, and squishy — almost like a pillow for your recovering pooch. That thick, luxurious material means that there is no way for your dog to see except straight out. But if you think your pup will really hate any collar that isn’t super comfortable, this is the one to get. You can purchase this e-collar in tan or black. It comes with loops to thread your dog’s regular collar through, as well as velcro closures and extra stays for added structure should you need it.
SCENEREAL Inflatable Recovery Collar
Inflatable collars can have an edge over traditional cone collars in that they are thick and block the dog from chewing because of how thick they are. They allow for sight because they don’t extend out past the snout. That’s a really nice part about this collar; also, it’s soft and comfortable for your dog and allows nearly normal movement throughout your home. The SCENEREAL Inflatable Recovery Collar secures around your dog’s collar area with a buckle, and it’s adjustable. The collar comes in several different sizes, so make sure you use their sizing chart before choosing one for your dog. The reason I didn’t purchase this collar is I’m concerned about it becoming deflated, but I will probably end up buying Eira one to have as a backup for the one I did purchase her.
ZenPet ProCone Pet E-Collar for Dogs
This soft-structured, velcro-binding collar has one feature that I couldn’t resist: clear plastic panels to allow your dog to see! And yes, it is the collar I chose for Eira.
She looks terrified or suspicious in just about every photo I took of her, but she didn’t try to remove the collar. She just seemed to know that it foretold a greater event (aka, her surgery in September) and had the saddest, sweetest face because of it. Poor girl!
Eira, looking very suspicious of her shiny new e-collar.
The e-collar fits her perfectly, though: it extends past her snout, blocking her from biting, well…pretty much anything on her own body. She got comfortable enough to lie down after a few minutes, and just sat there waiting for us to take it off or not or whatever.
Eira looking confused about her e-collar. Note the nice soft material it’s made of!
It’ll be interesting to see how she copes when she has to wear it all the time, but I’m comforted in knowing that she can see out of the plastic panels, and that she can maneuver through the house with relative ease (and without the sharp jab of stiff plastic hitting her neck).
Alfie Pet Noah Recovery Collar
Do you have a smaller dog that loves to be stylish while recovering from surgery or injury? Look no further than the adorable, sunflower-shaped Alfie Pet Noah Recovery Collar, a soft collar that’s less a cone of shame and more a cone of cuteness. Despite its sweet look, it works as well as other collars on the market — for smaller, daintier dogs, that is. If you have a chewer on your hands, or a large, energetic dog, this may not be the collar for you.
UsefulThingy Pet Recovery Collar
This collar is the best of both worlds: it’s slip like a regular cone, yet soft and bulky enough to protect your dog, like a fat inflatable collar. It’s made of hard foam, so you do not have to inflate it, but it’s bendable enough to allow your dog to move through the house with ease. Also, your pup can see, eat, drink, and play like normal.
Whichever pet recovery collar you choose, know that by taking the time to pick the perfect one, you are contributing greatly to your dog’s healing journey. Even if she makes faces at you like the one Eira made at me after a few minutes of her collar! I like to imagine she was saying, “Um, Mom? Can I take this off now?”
What’s your favorite recovery collar? Let us know in the comments!
Laura Ojeda Melchor grew up with two beloved German shepherd dogs—Clancy and her daughter, Bella. From the time her family brought Clancy home, Laura took on the duty of pooper-scooper and potty trainer. As a teenager Laura helped her mother care for Clancy during her pregnancy. She still remembers fondly the exciting, frigid winter night when the seven special puppies were born. Laura kept the youngest puppy—Bella—and potty trained her, too. She taught Bella important commands, took her for long walks, and spent hours throwing tennis balls for her.
In November, Laura brought home a sweet new puppy, Eira Violet. Eira is half Alaskan malamute and half German shepherd, and Laura loves her deeply. She chose not to use a crate to potty train Eira and was pleasantly surprised at the results. She now has a sweet, energetic dog who always uses the potty outside, plays well with Laura’s toddler, and enjoys long family walks in beautiful Alaska. If you were to meet Eira, she’d bound up to you with a wagging tail and get you running around the yard with her in no time.