I have had many requests for detailed instructions about how I made an alternative collar to the "lampshade" (Elizabethan, Buster, or Conehead) collar. These collars are used when a dog or cat needs to be restrained from accessing a wound while it heals. The alternative I came up with uses a dairy container, cut to size.
After my Jack Russell Terrier Tucker came home from the veterinary with the Buster collar, he was devastated. He just stood there in the middle of the floor and refused to move. When he lay down, he looked so uncomfortable. The collar was obviously making him more miserable than necessary, so I decided to design an alternative.
I picked out a plastic yogurt container which was about the same diameter as Tucker's neck, and then cut the bottom out with scissors. I then cut the container lengthwise, so it was a tapered tube which would open up to fit around Tucker's neck. I used trial and error to trim the length of the tube so it fit around his neck from behind his ears, and was long enough to rest against his shoulder bones. Finally, I punched holes in the corners of the tube where I cut the container lengthwise (using a pliers-style single hole paper punch), so I could use twist ties to close the plastic tube around his neck snugly. Others have reported that using self-adhesive Velcro® strips to secure the two edges of the collar also works well.
The idea here is to prevent your pet from reaching their wounds, and yet give them enough freedom to be reasonably comfortable while they are lying flat. They shouldn't be able to curl up normally without the collar stopping them. I didn't line the edges of the collar with anything. Since the collar fit quite snugly, Tucker soon forgot it was on. We walked him with the plastic collar on, since he could continue to wear his regular collar.
The twist ties can be used to adjust the closure gap, so you can experiment to see how snug the fit has to be to prevent your pet from getting to their wounds. If their wounds are on the lower part of their body (mid-rib cage to tail) or legs this system may not work, since many cats and dogs are flexible enough to bend their spine and still reach their back end.
As you can see by the cat photos, the dairy container concept also works well for cats. Kaia (the cat model) shows how her owner used packing tape to secure a cut down sour cream container. The plastic collar can slide on and off her head without fiddling with the tape, but she can't get it off because of how it's positioned on her.
If you make a mistake with this plastic collar, you can always start again...dairy containers don't cost much!