The cone collar may be the ultimate way to embarrass your pup in front of his canine buddies. However, these Elizabethan collars are useful tools that can help keep your dog healthy when boo-boos arise. It's best if he leaves the collar on at all times, which means he must be able to eat and drink while wearing it.
The cone collar usually is used when your dog has an ouchie that he shouldn't lick. This can be anything from stitches to a broken bone (chewing on his cast could have you back at the vet's office daily) to an open sore that doesn't want to heal. The cone blocks your dog's head so he can't reach around it to lick or bite at his body.
Your vet can help you pick the right size cone for your pup, but in general, the base should fit around his neck the same way his collar does. Some cone collars are designed to attach to your dog's normal collar, making sizing them around his neck easier. The wide end of the cone should be slightly shorter than your pooch's nose when he pokes it out straight. With the proper sizing, your dog should be able to get his mouth to his food and water bowls even when he's wearing the cone collar.
Although he should be able to eat and drink without too much extra effort, your poor pup might feel awkward enough that he gives up without really trying. Help him by changing or raising his bowls. If he normally has a food and water bowl combination where the two sides are connected, use separate bowls while he's wearing his collar. This might be easier for him to navigate because he can maneuver the cone all the way around the bowl. Elevating the bowls also can help, keeping him from having to lean down so far to eat and drink.
When your dog needs a cone collar, he probably needs to wear it all day, every day for the prescribed time. He's just waiting for the chance to chew on his boo-boo, and removing the cone for even a minute gives him that chance. However, if he refuses to try to eat while wearing the cone, ask your vet about removing it just long enough for your pooch to cram in some food. Watch him like a hawk the entire time, and stop him if he tries to turn around and chew on his injury. Put the cone back on as soon as he's finished eating.
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