Everyone hates e-collars—you know, those hard plastic “lampshades” your pet has to wear after seemingly every visit to the veterinarian’s office. E-collar is short for Elizabethan collar; it was named after the stand-up collar on dresses worn in Elizabethan-era England. In addition to looking kind of funny, e-collars can get caught on doorjambs, on legs and even on unsuspecting children. Dogs and cats sometimes knock over their food and water bowls while wearing them. Sometimes pets even refuse to walk normally with the e-collar on.

Although it can be a pain, it’s REALLY important for your pet to wear the e-collar for as long as necessary. E-collars prevent your pet from licking, biting or scratching at a wound or surgical site, which even the most well-behaved pets will do if given the opportunity.
Illustrating the importance of the e-collar, Newtown Veterinary Specialists‘ emergency doctors have seen many patients that were not wearing them as prescribed. Without the e-collar, these pets were able to chew out their stitches or make their wounds worse. Second surgeries were often required to repair the damage. In some cases, especially when abdominal surgery was involved, life-threatening injuries resulted from a pet chewing out the stitches.

The e-collar may be a hardship, but remember it is temporary! Proper use can save you hundreds of dollars, and more importantly, it will save your pet from a lot of unnecessary pain.

If your pet is really having a hard time with the e-collar, talk to your veterinarian about alternatives. There are soft-padded e-collars and collars that are more like inflatable tubes. In some cases topical solutions, such as tee-shirts, are appropriate. These alternate solutions only work for some pets with specific conditions, so please consult the doctor before changing collars.

Do NOT remove the e-collar before you’ve been directed to do so. Giving your furry four-legged “cone-head” a little extra love and attention can make the time fly by until you can safely remove it. If your pet has chewed out the stitches, call your veterinarian immediately. Newtown Veterinary Specialists is staffed with emergency doctors 24/7 should your family veterinarian be unavailable.
–Edited by Joan Eve Quinn

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