black dog sitting outside wearing a plastic cone collar

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Veterinary-Approved Cone Alternative for Dogs

Cone Alternative Options

Every dog is unique in how they'll react to wearing a cone, blow-up collar, or surgical suit.

The hard plastic e-collar (Elizabethan collar) that most veterinarians provide is what has historically worked best at keeping dogs from gaining access to their wounds or skin issues. But a lot of new products have come onto the market in the past few years that are good cone alternatives.

Every dog's physical shape is different, too, so some solutions won't work effectively on every dog. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend a solution that's appropriate for your dog, but our veterinary team has pulled together a few great options to consider.

Each solution needs to be fitted properly and used according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Blow-Up & Donut Collarsdog wearing a blow-up collar at the veterinarian

Similar to an airplane pillow (and perhaps just as comfortable!), the idea behind these designs is to decrease your dog’s ability to turn their neck and, therefore, limit their access to their surgical site, similar to if a person were to wear a neck brace.

Note: The width of the collar matters. The larger the dog, the larger the collar needs to be to prevent them from accessing their wounds.


  1. Dogs tend not to bump into things like walls, furniture, and our legs as much with the blow-up collar, which can cause anxiety and frustration, as well as put additional pressure on their neck.

  2. Makes eating and drinking easier since it allows for better access to the bowls and helps prevent bowls from being tipped (less mess!).

  3. Helps when going on walks since it allows a better field of vision and allows pets to put their head toward the ground easier.

  4. A helpful collar for dogs that have eye surgery. Some dogs find ways to utilize the hard e-collar to rub their eyes. This limits a dog’s ability to get their paws around to their face and prevents rubbing, as any ocular pain or discomfort (including healing stitches) WILL cause a dog to rub their eye.


  1. If not the right size or if your dog is very flexible, they could possibly access their wound.

  2. For dogs with skin issues, the increased moisture and humidity on the neck from the increased contact and fabric of this collar can cause a flare-up.

  3. Strong chewers can "pop" the pillow if they chew on it.

Tips for Fitting the Blow-Up & Donut Collar Well:

You want a collar with plush and non-irritating fabric.

Get a collar that has some sort of filling, foam, or bladder that isn’t easily broken from your dog’s nails or a quick chomp. Look for ones that are scratch or bite-resistant is ideal.

It must be inflated appropriately, or it won’t be effective.

The Velcro® closure, buckle, or snap must be snug, secure, and adjustable so that your dog can’t push it off their head.

Kong Inflatable Collar
inflatable cone alternative collar

A machine-washable collar that comes in a variety of sizes.

Inflatable Donut Collar
inflatable donut soft collar cone alternative

Machine-washable inflatable cone alternative that comes in three sizes.

Inflatable Dog Collar with Additional Anti-Licking Baffle
inflatable soft collar with anti-licking baffle

This collar comes in four sizes. The outer cover is removable for hand-washing.

Inflatable Dog Collar with Additional Anti-Licking Baffle
inflatable soft collar with anti-licking baffle

This collar comes in six sizes. The outer cover is removable for hand-washing.

Adjustable Donut Collar
inflatable donut soft collar cone alternative

The waterproof fabric of this soft cone is filled with microfiber cotton.


Soft Conesportuguese water dog in a soft sided cone

Some dogs just don’t tolerate a plastic cone because of its lack of flexibility and heavier feel. But they need a collar that extends well past their nose to prevent them from reaching the off-limit site. This is where a soft collar may be helpful.


  1. Likely won't mark or dent walls and furniture.

  2. The flexibility of the sides allows for easier access to food and water bowls and can make eating more comfortable.

  3. The soft-sided cones are more flexible and tend not to flip food and water bowls – which means less mess.

  4. Less bruising to your legs!


  1. Usually, they are not see-through, so peripheral visibility is lessened.

  2. Depending on the size, they can be quite floppy.

  3. Some pets can figure out how to bend the sides and gain access to the off-limit site.

  4. They should not be used for dogs that have had eye surgery.

Tips for Fitting the Soft Cones Well:

Be sure that the cone fits snuggly around your dog’s neck, but loose enough you can fit two fingers between their neck and the collar. After placing it, you can gently tug it forward to be sure it is on snug enough.

The collar must extend past the tip of your dog’s nose, about 2 inches, when the collar is resting as far back as possible on the neck.

Be sure not to purchase a soft cone that is too soft. If the cone is too soft, it will not hold its shape, resulting in their vision being blocked or them being able to reach their off-limit site.

Comfy Cone for Dogs
soft cone for dogs

All Four Paws' soft cone comes in two colors and various sizes. They have sizes for small dogs and cats, too.

Alfie Pet Soft Recovery Collar for Dogs & Cats
Alfie Pet Soft Recovery Collar for Dogs & Cats

Pliable fabric and a collar drawstring allow for easy adjusting.


Surgical Suitssurgical suit on dog after neuter procedure

Surgical suits are designed to cover your dog’s body in order to protect the surgical site from infection and potential injury.

Their use is most ideal for wounds, hot spots, bandage protection, or the latter half of incision healing.

Preventive Vet dog Finnegan is sporting his Suitical surgical suit after he wore the cone given by his veterinarian for the first 7 days (seen in the photo at the top of this page) after his neuter procedure; then he wore the suit for another week.


  1. They are generally very comfortable and stylish.

  2. Dogs are not hindered in any way with regard to eating, drinking, walking, or sleeping.

  3. It protects the area from other household pets.


  1. Dogs can still lick the area of the off-limit site, causing excess moisture, irritation, and inflammation.

  2. Dogs can still chew open an incision through the fabric.

  3. Some suits do not have openings for male dogs to urinate. Therefore, the suit has to be partially or fully removed, which risks your dog having access to the off-limit site.

  4. Some dogs do not like clothing, and the suit could cause anxiety.

Tips for Fitting the Surgical Suits Well:

It is important to choose the right size. If the suit is too small, it will cause discomfort and possibly injury. If the suit is too big, your dog may be able to get to the off-limit site, or the suit may get caught on furniture or other items. Make sure to measure your dog as per the manufacturer's guidelines.

Select a suit with fabric that is soft, breathable, durable, and washable.

Camouflage Suitical Recovery Suit
surgical suit for dogs

It is made of breathable fabric that is machine washable. From 3XS to 2XL, there's a size for almost any dog.

Belly Guard Surgical Suit
after surgery suit for spay or neuter procedures

Made of stretchy cotton, it comes in seven sizes and three colors.


Recovery Sleevescorig wearing a recovery sleeve after TPLO surgery-shutter

As with surgical suits, these sleeves provide protection for off-limit sites from infection and injury. Off-limit sites on the legs can be easily irritated when dogs get up and down or when sleeping. These sleeves are most helpful for dogs so they don’t lick or chew at an off-limit site located on their legs.


  1. Easy to use and clean.

  2. They do not hinder a dog’s eating, drinking, walking, or sleeping.

  3. Most styles don’t need to be removed for dogs to use the bathroom.

  4. Many versions are waterproof.


  1. Some types can cause dogs to sweat, which can increase the risk of infection to the wound.

  2. Dogs can chew through the fabric and damage a surgical site.

  3. May not work for all shapes and sizes of dogs.

Tips for Fitting Recovery Sleeves Well:

Be sure to get the right size for your dog.

Be sure to order the sleeve for the correct leg (left versus right, front versus back)

Be sure to purchase one that has soft, durable, breathable, and waterproof fabric.

You want a sleeve that can be secured to your dog’s body so that they cannot easily remove it.

Dog Recovery Sleeve for Right or Left Back Leg
Dog Recovery Sleeve for Right or Left Back Leg

Available directly from Lick Sleeve®, the manufacturer.

Coodeo Left or Right Back Leg Recovery Sleeve
Left or Right Back Leg Recovery Sleeve

Coodeo Recovery Sleeve for Both Back Legs
Dog Recovery Sleeves for Both Back Legs

Suitical Recovery Sleeve for Front Right or Front Left Leg Protection
Recovery Sleeve for Dogs

Coodeo Recovery Sleeve for Left or Right Front Leg Protection
Left or Right Front Leg Recovery Sleeve

Coodeo Dog Recovery Sleeve for Both Front Legs
Dog Recovery Sleeves for Both Front Legs

Smaller Plastic Cones

When you just need a plastic collar, but you want your dog to be more comfortable and be able to see well.


  1. Improved field of vision
  2. Can custom fit to suit your dog better and improve their comfort.


  1. Not a good option for small dogs that are less than 11 pounds. For smaller dogs, get a plastic cone from your vet, as they will have the right size.

Novaguard Recovery Collar Canine, for Medium-Sized Dogs 50-77 lbs
Recovery Collar Canine

Novaguard Recovery Collar Canine, Small-Sized Dogs 11-26 lbs
Recovery Collar Canine