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Published: Jun 15, 2012

Elizabethan collars are one of the more common methods of dog wound treatment prescribed by veterinarians, and pet owners may have seen other dogs with these large, cone-shaped devices around their necks. The odd shape of the collars can raise some questions in an owner's mind, and many may wonder why these are necessary.

Elizabethan collars for dogs are typically given to canines when they leave an animal hospital, especially after any type of surgery. Unlike humans, dogs don't understand when told not to scratch or lick at a particular area of their body. This can cause wound dressings, surgical stitches or bandages to come off, which can be problematic.

Some dogs may also be constantly itching or licking at certain areas of their body, especially if they have a problem like hot spots on dogs. Elizabethan collars restrict the dog's neck from moving so they can't get at these areas and cause worsening of the problem.   

When a dog is given an Elizabethan collar, it's very tempting for the owner to take the collar off, especially in the first few hours. The dog will likely need to adjust to moving around with the collar on, and they may bump into objects. Try to keep the dog in a comfortable space with no danger of hitting objects with the large collar, advises VCA Animal Hospitals. This will allow the dog to get used to the device. For the period the dog is prescribed to wear the collar, it should not be allowed to go outside unsupervised, and should ideally only go outside for short walks.

In a properly-fitted Elizabethan collar, the dog should have no problem eating and drinking as it normally would. If the collar is interfering with the dog's ability to eat, you might want to make an appointment with the veterinarian to get the collar re-fitted.

Besides that, the main aspect of care the owner should keep in mind is keeping the collar clean. This can be difficult to do while it is on the dog, so it's okay to take it off for a short time to allow cleaning.  However, clean the collar quickly and be sure to keep an eye on the dog to ensure he does not immediately began scratching or licking the problematic area.