Time to Bid Farewell to the “Cone of Shame”

Time to Bid Farewell to the “Cone of Shame”

Has your furry friend ever had to endure the dreaded “cone of shame”? You know, that awkward Elizabethan collar that resembles a lampshade? Veterinarians prescribe these collars to prevent pets from scratching themselves, biting sutures, or causing harm. However, recent studies have shed light on the potential welfare concerns and limitations of these collars. So, is it time to ditch the cone of shame altogether?

The Battle with the Cone

The term “cone of shame” became popularized by the movie “Up” – a fitting description, as it often feels like a punishment for our beloved pets. Not only does it inconvenience them, but it also poses challenges for their owners. Surprisingly, many pet owners are reluctant to use these collars and do not adhere to the recommended duration set by their veterinarians. Moreover, there have been cases of dogs getting entangled in plastic bags while wearing the collar, leading to tragic consequences.

A recent open-access study titled “The Cone of Shame: Welfare Implications of Elizabethan Collar Use on Dogs and Cats as Reported by their Owners” aimed to gather insights from pet owners who had used E-collars for their cats or dogs within the past year. The study surveyed 434 participants, revealing that their pets wore the collars for an average of 3-7 days.

Concerns and Limitations

Interestingly, more than half of the owners reported welfare concerns related to the use of the collar. They noted that the collar interfered with their pet’s drinking and limited their ability to engage in play. Additionally, around a quarter of the animals experienced minor injuries from wearing the collar, such as itching, trauma, and accidental collisions with objects.

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A considerable number of pets managed to remove the collar on their own, while some owners helped them by taking it off when supervision was possible. Most owners believed that the cone of shame effectively prevented their pets from engaging in undesirable behaviors like licking or biting. However, the overall consensus was that the collar negatively impacted the pets’ quality of life, causing them to feel depressed, experience difficulty eating, and struggle with normal activities.

A Different Approach

So, should we continue using the cone of shame as a necessary evil? Or should we explore alternative options? To delve deeper into the matter, I sought the opinion of Ellen Carozza, LVT, a renowned expert in feline medicine from the Nova Cat Clinic in the DC area. She believes that pain management plays a crucial role in preventing pets from engaging in unwanted behaviors. By using multimodal approaches, such as local blocks, opiates, Gabapentin, and NSAIDs, along with complementary therapies like laser treatment, the discomfort and pain can be minimized.

Carozza also emphasized the importance of addressing underlying obsessive behaviors and making environmental modifications. She mentioned alternatives such as inflatable collars that allow freer eating, neck braces to restrict bending, and even creative alternatives like adorable flower-shaped or lion-mane collars. Ultimately, her stance is that with better pain management, behavior analysis, and environmental changes, the routine use of the cone of shame can be significantly reduced.

Let’s Move On

The time has come to reevaluate the use of the cone of shame. While it may serve its purpose in specific cases, it’s essential to prioritize our pets’ well-being and explore alternative approaches. The research conducted on these collars raises awareness about their limitations and encourages us to find better ways to maintain companion animal welfare during the healing process. So, let’s bid farewell to the cone of shame and pave the way for more compassionate and effective solutions.

Further reading:  The Secret Behind Elizabethan Collars- A Savior or Distress for Cats?


Caption: My cat, looking rather “down” and “coned.”

References:

  • Shenoda, Y., Ward, M. P., McKeegan, D., & Fawcett, A. (2020). “The Cone of Shame”: Welfare Implications of Elizabethan Collar Use on Dogs and Cats as Reported by their Owners. Animals, 10(2), 333.
  • Shumaker, A. K. (2019). Diagnosis and treatment of canine acral lick dermatitis. Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice, 49(1), 105-123.
  • Wilson, S. (1993). Elizabethan collars and plastic bags. The Veterinary record, 132(26), 664-664.

Find cute collars for your furry friends at Karen’s Kollars!