Alternative to Buster/Elizabethan/Cone pet collar for dogs & cats

JoeTourist: Pets &emdash; Rolly resting in bed with a bandaged foot

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.

JoeTourist: Pets &emdash; Rolly & Tanner rest after their neutering operations

After my Jack Russell Terriers Rolly and Tanner came home from the veterinary with the Buster collar, they were devastated. They just stood there in the middle of the floor and refused to move. When they lay down, they both looked so uncomfortable. The collar was obviously making them more miserable than necessary, so I decided to design an alternative.

I picked out plastic yogurt containers which were about the same diameter as their necks, and then cut the bottoms out with scissors. I then cut the container lengthwise, so it was a tapered tube which would open up to fit around each dog’s neck. I used trial and error to trim the length of the tube so it fit around their necks from behind the ears, and was long enough to rest against their shoulders.

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 their necks 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 laying 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, the dogs soon forgot it was on. We walked them with the plastic collar on, since they could continue to wear their regular collars.

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. This system may not work with some cats and dogs, since they may be flexible (or strong) enough to bend their spine and still reach their wound, but it’s worth a try!

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 !

An alternative to the Elizabethan collar that works for larger dogs.
An alternative that works for larger dogs, made from a pool noodle and adjustable nylon straps with a buckle.