How to Make a Dog Cone More Comfortable

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Steward.

Home » Blog » How to Make a Dog Cone More Comfortable

An Elizabethan collar acts as a barrier to prevent dogs from licking their wounds or tearing stitches. However, many dogs don’t enjoy wearing the cone of shame. I’m sharing tips on how to make a dog cone more comfortable to ensure your pet keeps it on to speed up healing.  

How to Make a Dog Cone More Comfortable

To make a dog cone more comfortable, put a calming agent, gauze, stockings, or towel in the space between the neckline and your dog’s skin. Make it bearable by providing a more comfortable bed and an extra accessible bowl. It’s also essential you remain patient, show love, and give rewards.

It can be tormenting to see pets feeling confused as to why they need to wear an E-collar. While some dogs can adjust quickly, other dogs still need assistance. With that said, I recommend doing these tips to help make your dog more comfortable when wearing a cone.

A long-haired dog wearing a cone

Occupy Their Minds

Being strict and consistent in keeping the cone on can be challenging, yet it’s one of the ways to protect your dog during recovery. These are the most basic things you can do to ease the pain and make your dog more comfortable.

  • Give Rewards: Use tasty treats as rewards to your dog for keeping the cone. Make sure to include praises, particularly the words that you know your pet will love to hear. These simple actions would show your dog that it’s doing the right thing.
  • Play with simple toys and games: Try focused activities, like food puzzles and mind games, to take the mind off the cone. If you’re unsure if an activity would strain your dog’s neck, I can suggest more gentle yet entertaining activities for your dog.
  • Show some love: Recovery can be a stressful time for pets as they won’t be able to move as they usually do so. Most of the time, the power of your bond assures them that everything’s okay. They may try to lean on your body for security, so let them find physical comfort.

Clear Route and Remove Obstacles

Cones can limit visibility in dogs. It would be frustrating for dogs to move around since they won’t understand that they need to consider more space in their actions. One of the best things to make a dog cone more comfortable is to remove obstacles that the E-collar can hit. 

In this way, the cone would remain in place and not scratch your dog’s skin. Do these things to ensure it won’t be tricky for your pet to navigate around the house.

  • Push chairs in
  • Put away items like vacuum or end table
  • Guide your pet when walking through a doorframe or hallway
  • Clear a space at home where they can isolate themselves

Provide a Comfortable Bed

Make the bed area accessible and extra comfortable. If your dog has a bed frame, it would be better to put the bedding at ground level for a while so there won’t be any obstacles. You can also add a pillow or rolled blanket to prop your pet’s head.

Make Feeding Bowls Extra Accessible

It’s typical to place feeding bowls on the floor. However, this would make it difficult for your dog to eat, as the cone would bump into the floor. Thus, put the bowl in a small stool chair or elevated area to make it easier to reach.

Additionally, switch to a smaller and shallow bowl in the meantime, as the E-collar will make it tough for your pet to eat from a deep bowl.

Our clinic also offers a selection of recovery food for pets. These specialty foods contain complete dietetic food for dogs. In effect, your pet can digest soft food quickly.

Add a Cushion or Calming Component

A study shows that 77.4% of the 434 participants stated a poorer quality of life when their dogs used a cone. This covers effects in nutrition, health, mental state, and behavior because the cone interfered with the pet’s ability to move.

A black puppy wearing an Elizabethan collar

About 60.2% showed difficulty in drinking, while 67.5% experienced an inability to play. Moreover, 25% suffered related injuries, including irritation, falling downstairs, and bumping into walls. However, you can apply these remedies to avoid such issues.

  • Pantyhose or high socks as a cushion: Before directly putting the cone, slip pantyhose or high socks over your smaller pet’s neck. Make sure to cut it according to your dog’s head size and the material’s stretchiness. You may fold or scrunch it to be more fitting.
  • Towel as a cushion: You can use a towel if you don’t have extra socks. Fold it into thirds, lengthwise, then carefully wrap it around your dog’s neck. You can secure it with a tape or pin, although make sure it’s not too tight.
  • Soothe your pet using a calming agent: Our clinic offers calming components, like gel and patches, that you can attach to the cones. These items give aromatherapy to reduce stress-related behaviors like restlessness, barking, or jumping.
  • Use anti-itching medication: We also offer relief balms and anti-itching sprays that you can use to prevent your dog from scratching the neck area.

Try an Alternative

Daphna Nachminovitch, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations, says recovering from surgery can be distressing for animals, especially since hard plastic cones can impede their movements and limit vision. This is why she encourages the use of softer alternatives, if possible.

If you think that your dog is struggling with a stiff cone, come by the clinic to check out these alternatives.

  • Inflatable collars: These collars look like neck pillows, providing a softer solution than the traditional Elizabethan collar. They are also less intrusive since it consumes less space than conventional plastic hard cones.
  • Soft cones: Most soft cones already contain some form of padding, yet not as bulky as inflatable collars. However, soft collars would be easier to bend or wrinkle as your dog sleeps.


It’s tempting to remove the cone when you see your dog in discomfort. With these tips, you can help your dog to keep the E-collar on and heal quickly. However, if the cone is becoming a problem, call us, and we’ll provide alternatives to make your pet more comfortable.