Modern e-collar alternatives: Hot or not?


Elizabethan collars are so four centuries ago. Is it time to step into the present with these new takes on the old solution to post-treatment patients biting or scratching themselves?

You've seen the downfall of countless Elizabethan collars, some within the first 10 minutes of putting a patient into one. They crack, they scare patients, they're just not comfortable-and yet they're the only option for a pet that needs to keep paws off a wound, surgical site or hot spot.

Or are they?

We've found three alternatives to the old-school Elizabethan collar and asked for the opinion of veterinary surgeon and CVC educator Jennifer Wardlaw, DVM, MS, DACVS. Here's her rundown:

Easy, breezy, washable … Cover Me

Photo:, Shutterstock.comTulane's Closet's Cover Me by Tui is a breathable and washable protective garment that provides a comfortable alternative to an e-collar. The garment features an adjustable fit, available in seven sizes and two styles-step-in or pullover. The Cover Me by Tui claims to protect canine surgical sites, hot spots and allergy areas without the anxiety and discomfort of your OG e-collar.

Here's what Dr. Wardlaw says:

Cover Me looks like a onesie for my kids. If you're wanting to cover a spay or neuter, this would be perfectly fine. For a wound on a knee or anything on a leg, no way. The pets can still get to those wounds-even worse, the fabric could rub and exacerbate the site of the incision. If you use something like this, it needs to be changed at least once a day to make sure it's clean and dry and the incision is healing well. Otherwise, you could take it off in two weeks and find a big mess.

Fear not, BiteNot

Photo:, Shutterstock.comTell pets to keep their head up-literally. KVP International's BiteNot e-collar, advertised as “the collar that cares,” offers a head-raising alternative to the Elizabethan collar of the past. These are made of flexible plastic and foam, and that attach to a harness strap that ensures the collar has a better chance of staying on. The BiteNot Collar claims to safely protect dogs and cats while still allowing them to drink, sleep, play, run up a flight of stairs and around corners-even sit on laps-comfortably.

Here's what Dr. Wardlaw says:

I very much like BiteNot and think they could work well for forelimb and many hindlimb procedures. In some cases, I use them with an e-collar for stubborn dogs. But the BiteNot has to fit just right and can painfully rub the mandible if the pet struggles. It has to be tight around the neck, and the pet has to have a big head so the product won't simply slip off from the front. It has to fit snuggly between the mandible and shoulder-extra room means the pet can turn his head, which defeats the purpose. If the pet is a drooler, the slobber can still get on a forelimb incision. If the pet has airway issues, this may not be a good option.

Let's get comfy

Photo:, The Comfy Cone e-collar, advertised as a “healing halo of love” has the look of an original e-collar, but is actually a patented soft cone-shaped e-collar with removable stays for dogs and cats. Picture: if an e-collar were soft and comfy instead of hard and rigid. The Comfy Cone claims to have many ways to help a pet heal more comfortably, so the pet (and pet owner) can rest easy.

Here's what Dr. Wardlaw says:

The Comfy Cone can be nice because it's softer. But some dogs like being able to see through the cone and not feel like they're in a tunnel. I don't like their balloon option, as it can pop and most pets can get around it. Also, the sizing they claim on their website is wrong: You're not trying to get the cone to go to the tip of the nose, you need it to go past the tongue. This can be much, much longer than the nose in some dogs, like Bostons. 

Photo courtesy of Mindy ValcarcelEditors' note: The Comfy Cone e-collar has been used before on Medical Channel Director Mindy Valcarcel's own dog, Cooper, who has since passed. The modern e-collar alternative was a huge success with him. Here he is, pictured to the left, looking, well, comfy in the collar. 

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