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While your vet will no doubt assure you that your dog won’t feel any pain during spaying or neutering surgery, they can still feel uncomfortable after the ordeal.
And to add insult to injury they will have to wear a cone around their head for X amount of days 🙁
How long do they have to use the cone before you can take it off?
The cone is an essential part of the healing process.
It not only prevents your dog from opening its wound but also helps restrict activity, which is essential during the healing process.
Anna was spayed 2 days ago so we feel your pain (literally for Anna).
Guess what? We just asked our vet the exact question for today:
QUESTION: How long before I can take the cone off after spaying my dog?
HIS ANSWER: 10-14 days!
In 10-14 days we have to go back to the vet to have Anna’s sutures removed. After the sutures are removed and Anna has a clean bill of health she’s free to roam without the cone!
That’s the answer for Anna but as we’ve mentioned so many times on the blog every dog is different.
Different dogs heal at different speeds, so how do you really know when it is safe to remove your dog’s cone after spaying or neutering surgery?
Read on to find out how to decide, and for top tips on making your dog more comfortable while they are stuck in the cone.
FULL DISCLOSURE: We are not veterinarians. This article is for entertainment purposes only. If your dog has any kind of health issue please consult with your vet.
Caring For Your Dog After Spaying/Neutering Surgery
Your vet will reassure you that your dog is not in pain during their neutering or spaying surgery because they will be under a general anesthetic, so they shouldn’t feel anything.
After the surgery, they will also receive pain medication for about 24 hours post-surgery, probably Rimadyl or Torbugesic. You may also receive some take-home pain medication to administer yourself.
You will also receive, or be instructed to purchase, a cone. You should place this around your dog’s neck to prevent it from being able to reach its wound with its mouth.
Its natural response to the unusual feel of the healing wound will be to lick it and examine it with its teeth.
This needs to be prevented, as they can open their sutures or introduce bacteria that will infect the wound this way.
The cone also has the secondary effect of restricting their movement. Your vet will advise you to restrict your dog’s activity for about two weeks post-surgery.
This is so they don’t accidentally open their sutures through running or jumping, and so that they don’t get into any dirt that can infect the wound.
The cone restricts their line of vision and mobility, which can also help keep your dog less active, although this is not the principal purpose of the cone.
When Can You Remove Your Dog’s Cone
Your vet will likely tell you that you can remove your dog’s cone about 10-14 days after surgery.
They can’t be more specific since all dogs are different when it comes to healing, so how do you know when your dog is healed enough to lose the cone?
There are a few simple factors to consider.
- They should no longer need sutures or staples to keep their wound closed, eliminating the risk of your dog accidentally opening its wound.
- All redness, tenderness, and inflammation should have died down around the incision area, showing that the wound is well on its way to complete healing.
- There should be no discharge around the wound, as this can be evidence of infection and could require an additional trip to the vet.
You may feel like your dog has reached this stage as little as seven days after surgery, but you should be careful about removing the cone if they haven’t yet reached the ten-day mark.
If you reach 14 days and your dog’s wound still does not seem healthy enough for you to remove the cone, it could be infected and you should speak to your vet.
How To Support Your Dog While Using A Cone
Unsurprisingly, dogs hate wearing a cone. Who wouldn’t?
It restricts their movement and direct vision and casts shadows in their peripheral vision. Dogs tend to be very alert animals, and this can be quite traumatic for them.
Most of our dogs have worn the cone at one time or another.
Stetson used to barrel through everything knocking over chairs, clearing coffee tables, and knocking into his canine companions.
Linus was my sensitive guy. The first time he tried to cross a threshold with his cone he was stopped by running into the wall. He just stood there for a good 30 seconds. Eventually he got used to banging his cone until eventually getting through doorways.
Our current pup, Anna is more of a Stetson and rams her cone into doors, couches, chairs and of course knocking down Raven and Elsa.
In our experience, every dog has had a different reaction to the cone but they all eventually got used to it.
There are a few things that you can do to make this time a little more tolerable for your dog.
They will feel disoriented even in familiar spaces because of their compromised vision.
Make this less scary by sticking close by them for at least 24 hours while they are adjusting to their surroundings again.
It is especially careful to walk by their side when they are navigating tricky areas, such as stairs.
Yep, the stairs can be disastrous. Anna has given me an accidental nudge with her cone on several occasions on our way down. Luckily I haven’t fallen down.
Your dog may feel vulnerable while wearing the cone, especially around other dogs and children.
It is best to keep your dog away from other animals and perceived threats while they are wearing the cone.
Even if they don’t feel threatened, they might want to play and that is the kind of activity that could lead to re-opening their sutures.
On the flip side, other dogs may be afraid of the dog in the cone. Elsa has been noticeably avoiding our sweet Anna.
However, this is more of a positive because Elsa is Anna’s regular play buddy which means I don’t have to worry as much about hard play time between the two.
Show Her She Is Loved
After the traumatic experience of the vet and the indignity of the cone, your dog might be feeling pretty down and disgruntled.
Reassure them that they are still the apple of your eye and the prince or princess of their castle by giving them lots of love and attention while they are stuck in the cone.
Give Them A Break
While it is best to keep your dog’s cone on all the time, if they are feeling especially stressed you can take it off for a little while.
Make sure they are fully supervised during this period so that they don’t lick their wounds or become too active.
I only do this when I am directly in contact giving my full attention to my puppy. If you get distracted for even one second please put the cone on.
By the way, my vet does not recommend ever removing the cone. You’ve been warned!
Get The Right Cone
The basic plastic cone that you are likely to receive from your vet is probably pretty uncomfortable.
Dogs are pretty good at wriggling out of things that they don’t like, but there are a variety of comfortably-designed cones that can be more effective.
They are worth the investment for your dog’s comfort.
Best Cones For Dogs
If you are looking for an alternative cone for your dog, check out one of these three. Some of them are a little untraditional.
FULL DISCLOSURE: We tried the All Four Paws Comfy Cone E-Collar many years ago and liked it. The other two cone alternatives we haven’t tried but would love to see if they’re a better option than the standard plastic cone.
4 stars – 644 reviews
If you want a daily standard cone, this option from All Four Paws is great. Rather than being made from plastic, it’s made from a tight gauge, foam-backed padded nylon.
You can also adjust the rigidity of the cone with removable plastic stays.
The cone comes in a variety of sizes and uses fuzzy fasteners so you can adjust it to the exact size that you need.
The fabric is water-resistant and easy to clean, but also opaque. This means that the material does less to distort your dog’s vision and therefore reduces one of the main stresses associated with the cone.
As I mentioned earlier, we had the opportunity to use this cone with Linus and while an improvement on the standard plastic it’s not a whole lot different. It’s still not much fun for your pup for the next 10-14 days.
3.8 stars – 1,865 reviews
This looks more like a u-shaped neck pillow than a cone. It is still effective at preventing your dog from licking its wound, but it doesn’t interfere with its ability to eat, drink, or see.
The collar is available in a variety of sizes and is adjustable, with a strong hook and loop closure that your dog won’t wriggle out of easily.
It is scratch- and bite-resistant, and won’t mark your walls and furniture like a cone will when your dog tries to get it off.
I think I wore one of these on my flight to Hawaii! 🙂 Seriously this seems like a much nicer option for your pup. They’ll have much better visibility while also maintaining the purpose of not allowing your pup to lick/bite at her sutures.
4.5 stars – 1,179 reviews
If you are looking for something completely different, you can try this Suitical recovery suit.
Rather than restricting your dog’s reach with its mouth, the suit covers the area that is recovering. It is marketed as a less stressful alternative to a cone.
The suit is made from non-toxic, breathable, four-way stretch fabric that is machine washable and allows air to circulate around the wound.
There are also various pockets for inserting gauze pads if needed. It fits snuggly and fastens at the rear, so they won’t be able to get it off, but it can be opened for them to use the bathroom.
This suit is available in various sizes and colors for different dog breeds.
I love this option but I’m slightly skeptical that it would stop Anna from irritating her stitches. I could see a very ambitious dog scratching and biting until they got through the fabric. This is definitely a product I’d like to get my hands on for a full review.
Can I take my dog’s cone off after seven days?
Your dog should wear their cone until their wound is completely healed. This usually takes 10-14 days.
If you think your dog is fully healed after seven days, consult your vet to be sure before removing the cone.
Can I leave my dog alone three days after neutering?
If your dog doesn’t seem overly interested in licking their wound or being overly active, you can leave them alone after neutering.
They might even appreciate the privacy and quiet as they are recovering; however, don’t leave them alone for extended periods.
Complications are always possible post-surgery and they should be monitored regularly.
Can my dog run 14 days after neutering?
If your dog’s wound is completely healed 14 days after neutering, there is no reason it should not be able to run.
Monitor your dog during and after exercise for any potential complications.
Canines And Cones
While no one wants to submit their beloved dog to wearing a cone for two weeks, it is an essential part of the healing process.
It is one of the most effective ways of preventing your dog from licking and biting at its recovering wound.
It can also help with keeping their activity levels down during the vital healing process.
If you give your dog special love and care during the initial stages of the healing process after spaying or neutering, they should be able to lose the cone after 10-14 days and be back to their happy selves.
Did you spay or neuter your dog?
How long did you have to wait before removing the cone?
Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
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