A: Let’s face it. An Elizabethan collar can be terrifying for an animal. If your pet has never worn one, there may not be time to get them comfortable with it in an emergency. You can try alternatives that may have mixed results, so discuss these with your veterinarian first. You still need to prevent your pet from reaching the affected body part.
A pipe insulation foam tube can be cut into segments and put around a collar. This collar should be several inches larger than your pet’s neck circumference to allow for the added bulk of the foam. Insulation is available in a variety of thicknesses so use one of an appropriate size to prevent your pet from licking around the piping.
Inflatable collars can be adjusted by how much air you put in them. These collars are soft so your pet can lie down easily while wearing one. Your pet is less likely to crash into walls, chairs, or your legs because their peripheral vision is not blocked. Soft collars don’t crack or make noise like traditional cones. They also come in a variety of colors and fun styles so they may be less scary to young children.
If your pet is calm, a paper or cloth cone may work. These look like a large coffee filter with your pet’s head through the center. A pet intent on reaching a wound can easily rip or destroy this type of collar. These must be quickly replaced if they get wet. Some soft cones are more rigid with foam panels covered in fabric. These stand more upright around your pet’s neck but are still soft enough for your pet to lie down comfortably.
Neck brace styles are also available. These are made of soft plastic and conform to your pet’s neck. They are held in place by hook and loop fasteners and prevent your pet from craning their head to reach a rear body part.
Post-surgical bodysuits (think dog or cat “onesies”), T-shirts, small underwear, or booties can be used to cover either the entire trunk or just the feet, arms, and legs. These usually allow freedom to move normally but likely will not stop a determined chewer. If a covering becomes soiled or wet, you will need to replace it.
Whichever method you choose, frequent inspection and adjustment may be needed. Make sure your pet remains comfortable, relaxed, clean, and dry for the duration of recovery.