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7 Risks Of Leaving Your Dog Alone With A Cone On + 5 Tips

Can I Leave My Dog Alone With A Cone On

Your dog just got home looking like a satellite dish. 

Because the vet said they should wear a cone on their head. 

They don’t seem to like it. But it is to keep them safe.

And now you wonder:

Is it okay to leave them alone during this time?

Keep reading to find out: 

  • 5 tips to make dog cones more comfortable. 
  • 7 risks of leaving your dog alone with a cone on.
  • Why some dogs get depressed when wearing cones.
  •  And much much more…

Can I leave my dog alone with a cone on?

You can leave your dog alone with a cone on but for a short while only. Leaving them for longer periods holds risks such as removing their collars. This may cause them to have infections or self-injuries. In this case, it’s best to have someone else monitor them to also avoid any accidents at home.

7 risks when leaving your dog alone with a cone on

#1: They may (successfully) take off their cones

Fun fact: Did you know?

Cones are also known as the ‘E-collar’ or the Elizabeth collar. Seems weird to name something that a dog uses, right? 

But actually, this came with a history. 

You see, the cones are named this way because it’s inspired by Queen Elizabeth the First. 

If you look at pictures of her online, you’ll see that she always wore the high-collar lace thingy. 

The must-have fashion item that’s popular among royalties in the year of the 1500s-1600s. 


Your dog’s cone kind of looks like that. So Frank L. Johnson, the inventor of the cone, decided to name it that way. 

Okay, so some dogs tolerate wearing cones. But if your pooch finds them uncomfortable, they’ll try their very best to remove it. Especially when you leave them alone. 

If their cones are secured and fit them well, then that’s okay. Surely, they won’t be able to take it off that easily. 

But what if it doesn’t? 

Your dog could be at serious risk when they succeed in removing it. 

Cones are used in preventing your pooch from licking or biting their wounds. 

Without these, your pooch may accidentally remove their stitches because of excessive licking. Or irritate their wounds with their scratching.

“Dogs lick their wounds to help them heal, right?”

That’s right!

According to research, their saliva is, indeed, antibacterial. It even helps kill bacterias like E.coli and S.canis. 

But the danger is when they lick too much and their stitches reopen. 

If this happens, your dog will have to undergo another surgery for re-stitching. And you may have to pay more for their medications in case they get infections. 

#2: They’re prone to collisions and bumps

“Omgosh. Sorry, I didn’t see you there. 

Oh wait, that’s a chair.”

Another risk of leaving your dog alone with a cone on is they’re prone to bumping things at your home. 

They may knock off lamps and other things that are on the table. And collide with other dogs or family members that aren’t in their line of vision. 

This is because the cone may be getting in their way of sight. 

Here’s an example.

I still remember when my previous dog, Ejy, had returned from surgery after a big dog attacked him… He had to wear a big cone.

It was one of the most stressful things he had to cope with. Since his seeing range was limited, he was constantly bumping into chairs. 

This caused him to sit in one place most of the time. With big, watery sad dog eyes… It broke my heart to see him like this. 

What’s more, Ejy refused to do his business with the cone on. So I just removed it prior to walks and when we were together at home. 

But back to your dog.

Aside from bumping in things, your dog might still be under the influence of drugs. Especially if they just came from a heavy surgery. 

Combine these two and you have a groggy pooch. 

That’s why doctors recommend that you observe your dog for a while first. 

#3: Your dog may become depressed

A dog with a cone on is a funny look. They look like a doggo satellite dish or an upside-down lamp. 

But wait, something seems wrong. Why does your dog look sad?


If you leave your dog alone with a cone on for too long, they may become depressed. 

This is because you’re not with them. And with the cone, they can’t do the things they normally did before. 

For instance, your pooch may get lonely because they can’t play with other dogs. 

Their e-collar must be getting in the way of their play. They can’t move properly because they’re not used to wearing it yet.

Because of the cone, they can’t drink or eat properly. 

And they may also be lacking sleep because it’s uncomfortable. Which further adds to their stress and anxiety.

In a survey conducted, 77.4% of the 434 participants said their fur babies have poorer quality of life when they wear dog cones. 

And it’s not just the dogs. 

Some fur parents also felt the same stress that affects them. Both in physical and psychological aspects.

This is because the cones interfered with their everyday life at home. 

Their dogs often knock on their furniture. They bark and whine excessively because they’re uncomfortable with their cones. 

And they get scratches when the cones graze their legs. As well as the walls.

Also read: 13 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Suddenly Sad + 9 Tips To Fix It

#4: They may injure themselves

Your Dog May Injure Himself When You Leave It With A Cone On

Another risk of leaving your dog alone with a cone on is they may injure themselves. 

If you’re not there to monitor them, they’d be free to do all sorts of things. Just to get their cones off their head. 

Let me share a quick story again about my friend’s doggo. 

She had a dog who got an infection by his left ear. So to avoid him from scratching it, the veterinarian advises her to make the pooch wear a cone. 

But her pup was stubborn. He wanted to take off his e-collar by all means possible. 

When she got home from work, she noticed that her dog’s bleeding. Because he tried to pull the cone off his head. And this made his wound bigger.

“Oh no!”

It required emergency stitches to the poor pooch. And antibiotics to make his wound and infection heal faster.

#5: They won’t be able to move around in their crate

Some dog parents leave their dogs in crates whenever they leave. If you’re one of them, then you should avoid crating your pooch when they have a cone on. 

“But why, Petya?” 

This is because your dog is physically and mentally stressed during this time. 

And being inside a crate can make them more anxious. With a cone on, it’ll be difficult for them to move around their crate. More so if they have a small one. 

If you want to know more about dangers and tips about crating, read this article.

#6: They could get stuck

If you leave your dog alone with a cone on, they might get stuck on things.

Cones are big. 

Sometimes, they’re even bigger than the small pooches who wear them. 

So if your dog is used to entering the house through a dog door, they may have troubles. 

Because getting in and out of a small opening with a satellite dish on your head is hard. Worse is that they may even get stuck on it!

And I’m not just talking about dog doors. 

Your pooch’s cone may also get stuck playing outdoors. Like in bushes or plants when they try to sniff on the soil underneath it. 

And if you’re not there to watch them, they may get distressed. Your dog will feel helpless if they can’t get out of it because of their cones. 

#7: They may get hungry or dehydrated

Leaving your dog alone with a cone on can make them hungry or dehydrated. Because they won’t be able to eat and drink properly.

Here’s a scenario.

“Hooman, where are you? I’m hungry and thirsty…”

Imagine yourself eating and drinking while wearing a cone on your head.

I know. It looks pretty easy, right?

Because you have a knife, spoon, and a fork to make eating convenient. You even have various types of glasses for different beverages. 

But your pooch doesn’t have those things. They only have their mouths to eat. And their tongue to lick their food. 

That’s why they may have a hard time eating or drinking with a cone. Because it gets in the way of their food and water bowls.

Don’t get me wrong. 

Your dog can still eat and drink while they’re wearing cones. But this makes it totally uncomfortable. Some dogs even refuse to eat as a way to protest. 

So they need help from you. 

If their food or water bowl is too deep, then they won’t be able to reach it with their cones blocking them. 

Can a dog be in a crate with a cone?

Dog In A Crate With A Cone

A dog can be in a crate with a cone. But if you can avoid crating your dog during this time, then try to refrain from doing it.

This is because most crates are pretty small. 

And some of them just have enough space for dogs to lay down. 

If your dog is wearing a big cone on their head, they may have a hard time. Because their crate may not have enough space. 

It’ll be hard for them to move around it. 

Crating isn’t really a very nice experience for your pooch. Most dogs whine and cry inside it. Especially when they’re left alone inside it for too long.

It’s cramped up. And they’re all alone. Add dog cones in the picture and you’ll surely have a stressed pooch.

Should I take my dog’s cone off at night?

You shouldn’t take your dog’s cone off at night as a safety precaution. It’s tough love. But you have to resist doing it for your dog.

Remember that your pooch is wearing an e-collar for a reason. And it’s to prevent them from licking and chewing off their wound or incision. 

Removing it at night may risk your dog from scratching and re-opening their stitches. If this happens, they’ll get exposed to infection caused by bacterias.

Think of it this way.

If you ever had a wound, you’ll know how itchy it is as it heals. Especially during nighttime. 

This is because you don’t get distracted at night as much as you do in daytime. 

That’s why when you sleep, you’re not aware of how much you scratch. 

You just like how it feels because you’re relieved. Only to discover in the morning the damage you’ve done to your skin. 


This is the same as your dog. They’re not aware of the implications of scratching and licking their wounds. 

So it’s best you keep their cones on all the time. 

Don’t worry. Cones or e-collars are designed in a way that your dog can still sleep while they’re wearing them. 

Is it safe for a dog to sleep with a cone?

It’s safe for a dog to sleep with a cone. As long as it fits them well, it’s medical-grade, and it’s comfortable around their neck.

Your pooch will have a hard time getting comfortable with their cone at first. But they would adjust to it as time goes by. 

To help your dog sleep better, you can apply itch-relieving creams on their skin. (But before you do this, ask their vet for advice first.) 

Oh, and don’t forget to give your dog their medications. This will make their wounds heal faster. So they can remove their cones asap. 

3 cone alternatives to make sure that your dog sleeps comfortably

#1: Soft recovery collar

Cones made of plastic can be bothersome for your pooch. 

It’s not that flexible and it’s hard, too. That’s why if it grazes on your leg, you may get scratches. 

So if you’re looking for a more comfortable alternative to the plastic one, you can try using the soft recovery collar.

Advantages of using this are that they won’t scratch you or the furniture. And it’s easy to clean because it’s washable. 

Plus your dog will sleep more comfortably because it’s soft and foldable.  

The only downside of soft collars is that it’s opaque. (Unlike the plastic one which is transparent.)

Your dog may have trouble navigating through your house. Because it may obstruct their line of vision.

#2: Inflatable collar

Another alternative to cones is the inflatable collar. It’s the dog version of the neck pillow you wear in airplanes and tour buses. 

Your dog will be able to eat and drink better with this. 

Plus it’s not as long and annoying as cones, so this is more comfortable to sleep with. This collar can double as their pillow, too.

But the inflatable collar isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Because your dog can easily remove it. Plus if they bite on it, it may pop and deflate. 

#3: Recovery suits

If your dog has hotspots and skin allergies, a recovery bodysuit is a good alternative. Especially if they don’t sleep very well wearing cones. 

Your pooch will adapt easier with this. More so if they’re used in wearing body harnesses or even clothes. 

Their wounds won’t be as exposed compared to collars. So they won’t be able to scratch it. 

It can also act as a protection and barrier to their licks and bites. 

The only disadvantage to this is that it only protects certain areas in your dog’s body. Like the ones in their tummy or upper body part.

So if your dog has wounds in their neck, head, limbs, or tail, they would still be able to reach them. 

Bonus: Pet recovery collar

Pet Recovery Collar

A pet recovery collar is like a neck brace for your pooch. It’s softer and your pooch may be more comfortable sleeping with it than the other alternatives. 

But don’t add this to your cart yet. Because this one isn’t as effective as cones. 

This collar can only prevent licks and bites. 

Which means your dog will still be able to scratch their face and other parts of their body. 

5 tips on how to make a dog cone more comfortable

#1: Introduce the cone before their surgery

To make your dog’s cone comfortable, you have to make them adapt to it early. Introduce their cone days or weeks before their scheduled surgery. 

Make them sniff on it first. 

Then let them try it on for a short while, getting gradually longer as they get more used to it. 

This way, when the time comes that they really have to wear it for longer days, they’re already comfortable with it. 

Giving your dog some encouragement during this time also helps. Do it in a high-pitched voice. 

“Good boy/girl!”


Praising your pooch will make them happy every time they wear their dog cone.

#2: Make sure it fits them well

A snuggle fit ensures your dog’s comfortability with their cone. 

Too loose and it will come off of their heads. While a cone that’s too tight may restrict your dog’s neck and breathing. 

According to Healthy Paws Animal Hospital, there’s a way to know the perfect cone size for your pooch.

Here’s how:

Step 1: Place two fingers in between the cone and your dog’s neck.

Then move it slightly to the left and right. If your fingers are comfortable and it moves easily, then the cone isn’t too tight for your pooch. 

Step 2: Now, to know how long their cones should be, turn your dog’s head to the side. 

The length of the cone should exceed just past their snouts. But not too long that it will fully obstruct their line of sight. 

It shouldn’t be too short as well. 

Because if it is, your dog will still be able to access their wounds. Making the use of cones pointless. 

#3: Choose a soft cone with foam

Choosing a soft cone instead of a plastic one can make your dog comfortable. But not just them, you too. 

When your dog wears a soft cone, bumping into them isn’t as painful. Because soft cones or e-collars won’t scrape and scratch the skin.

And because it’s made of cloth, it’s also less likely for your dog to get injuries. They can sleep better with them, too. 

Oh, and don’t worry. 

Soft cones or collars will not lose their shape after some time. It has wires inside so it won’t bend easily, even when it’s used daily. 

#4: Make your house safe for them

If it’s your dog’s first time wearing a cone, put them in a smaller room first. Like a bathroom or a small room where there’s less furniture. 

It doesn’t have to be too long. Just wait for them to calm down and settle. And stay with them, too, so that they won’t get anxious.

This way, they’d get accustomed to their cones. Without causing much damage in the house. 

Take this time to have your partner or another member of the family clear any small furniture your dog might bump into. Such as lamps, books, and picture frames on the tables near the couch. 

Once your dog gets used to it, help them navigate around the house. 

Monitor them closely. And make sure they don’t collide with something that would topple over them. 

#5: Know when you should take it off

Sleeping with a cone on your head isn’t the most comfortable thing. That’s why you have to know when it’s time your dog should take it off.

You should assess your dog.

If they’re not living properly and if they’re not adjusting to it very well, talk to their vet. Because you may be allowed to take off your pooch’s cone once in a while.

For instance, if they’re having a hard time eating. 

Some dogs are allowed to take off their cones when eating if they’re well-behaved. But after their meals, the cone must be worn again.

There are also dog parents who take off their pooch’s cone when they’re being groomed. Or whenever they’re taking a walk outside. 

Warning: Ask your trusted vet regarding this first. This situation depends on a dog’s temperament and how serious their condition is.

People also ask:

How long should a dog wear a cone (after surgery)?

North Town Vet Hospital says dogs should wear a cone at least 10-14 days after surgery. Or possibly more if the veterinarian recommends it. 

This is to ensure that their wounds or any incisions are (partially) healed. And by that time, their stitches have already dried up. 

So there’s already less risk of getting an infection or their stitches reopening. 

But you have to ask for your vet’s advice, too. 

Because only they can tell you how long exactly your dog should keep their cone on. Depending on what surgery your dog has undergone. 

If your pooch has a more serious condition, they may have to wear their cones a bit longer than usual. 

Normal surgeries like spays and neuters take a shorter time of recovery. Compared to abdominal surgeries where wounds take 6-16 weeks to fully heal. 

Do dogs get depressed wearing a cone?

Dogs get depressed wearing a cone. Because wearing it affects their day-to-day life, both physically and mentally. 

Their cones could be hindering their food and water intake. Leading to hunger and loss of nutrients. 

If a pooch isn’t getting the food they need, they would feel lethargic and sluggish. 

A dog wearing a cone also lacks social interaction. Since a cone on their head makes it hard for them to play. 

Lastly, they may get depressed when they’re crated with a cone on for a long time. This is because they’re unable to rest and move around in such a tight space.