Pet Connections

Why Does My Pet Need a Cone?

Imagine getting a cut on your finger that requires stitches.  At first it hurts, but then within a few days it gets itchy… very, very itchy.  To help relive the itchy, you start to scratch the area.  You feel better so you stop scratching, but the itch returns with a vengeance, so you start scratching and scratching and soon it starts to bleed.  You stick your bleeding finger in your mouth and get the bleeding to stop. However, a little later you notice your finger looks puffy and hurts and soon there is pus coming from the incision.  A recheck with your doctor confirms your incision is infected.

Unfortunately, this is a scenery that many veterinary hospitals see on a daily basis, pets licking or scratching their surgical incisions and wounds which can lead to infection.  Stitches, bandages, incisions can become itchy as the fur around these sites grow causing the pet to want to scratch, lick, or chew at the area. Although many pets and their owners view the cone as a nuisance, the Elizabethan collar or E-collar for short, is one of the great tools of the veterinary field.  When fitted properly, E-collars are designed to prevent pets from licking themselves as well as incision or wounds on their body.  E-collars are also a useful tool for preventing pets like dogs and cats from scratching at ears and eyes.  

There are many reinventions of the E-collar along with some alternatives to cone, however the purpose is the same, to prevent infection. Depending on the area of concern, it is important to check with your veterinarian when using an alternate method of the e-collar to make sure it is appropriate to your pet’s needs.  

For many of the surgical procedures, e-collars are instructed to be worn for at least 10-14 days or until rechecked by the doctor.  However, in other cases, pets may need to wear the e-collar for weeks to months until a wound is healed, or the bandage is removed.  In many instances e-collars can be removed for short periods of time when someone is able to keep a close eye on the pet.  It is important to stay vigil while the cone is off.  Pets can do a lot of damage to their wounds in a short amount of time.  If in doubt whether your pet will lick at their incision while the e-collar is off, play it safe and keep the cone on.   

Even the most diligent pet parent may encounter the many tactics pets use to avoid wearing the e-collar. Determined pets have removed or have broken their e-collar making the cone unusable.  If this happens, call your veterinary hospital for a replacement ASAP and alert your veterinary if your pet is not tolerating the e-collar.  Your veterinarian may be able to recommend alternative solutions.  Remember the e-collar is not forever, but it is your pet’s best friend on the road to recovery!

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