The Cone of Shame
October 10, 2013 5:09 AM   Subscribe

Our 18-week-old male puppy was just neutered, and I am puzzled by the vet's advice to my wife.

So, Bentley (obligatory) was "fixed" yesterday. When my wife brought him home, he had the cone of shame affixed. He really is pitiful, but we understand that it's necessary for the time being. The vet advised leaving the cone on for SEVEN DAYS. There is no way that this ball of energy is going to be able to take a full week of wearing this thing.

Is seven days for real?
posted by kuanes to Pets & Animals (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
They advised we leave our dogs cone on for a week when she was spayed and we did. After 2-3 days she was used to it and it didn't seem to bother her. She would still occasionally misjudge a turn but overall she was back to herself after 5 days and ready to be out of the cone at 7. You just really don't want him licking or biting his incision.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 5:15 AM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

My mom was in a similar position with her own puppy a few weeks ago. Fed up with listening to puppy misery, she took the cone off after four or five days instead of the full week. She came home from an errand to a lot of blood and, after a trip to the vet, an expensive course of antibiotics.

Puppies are not good decision makers about what to chew. I'd follow the vet's instructions.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:19 AM on October 10, 2013 [40 favorites]

So fluffy!!

Some dogs will get so used to the Cone that when it comes off you notice them being completely normal except giving their heads a wider berth as they run around corners. Puppies are really adaptable, and respond to your emotions perhaps more than you might think. He won't be completely himself for a few days anyway, and by the time he's got his energy back, if you act like it ain't no thang, he'll probably start thinking that, too.

Even if he's stubborn in his piteousness, stick it out. You need that incision healed. It's good practice for you, too, in being the boss of him. And dang, he's so cute that you probably need all the motivation you can get to withstand him. Cone and sadness for a week, or blood, infection, more vet bills, and even longer, slower healing time with more cone?
posted by Mizu at 5:23 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it is. My dog ripped open an incision once and it severely delayed healing (as in, 7 days in the cone turned into 12).
posted by muddgirl at 5:24 AM on October 10, 2013

Puppies are not very smart about anything. Remember how long it took the puppy to learn where to pee? Now think about all the humans you know who pick and poke and scabs and bruises.

Your puppy will want to pick and poke his incision. I promise. For longer than it will appear particularly interesting to you. And he's too dumb to learn not to, or to redirect himself, or to tell you he's doing it.

Stick with the cone, and if there's a follow up appointment scheduled, keep it, even if he "seems fine."
posted by bilabial at 5:25 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would follow the vet's advice. I also recommend getting the inflatable dog collars (like this one) rather than the traditional "cone." We did this for our very energetic lab when he had stitches on his belly and head and it worked like a charm. He got used to it pretty quickly and would kind of use it like a pillow. He actually would run up to us when it was time to put it on after he was done eating.
posted by Kimberly at 5:35 AM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yeah, a week isn't that long. You don't want him to pull out his stitches or, worse, get the wound infected so it's gross and pus-filled. Because that's what happened when we let our Shiba be without his e-collar.
posted by InsanePenguin at 5:38 AM on October 10, 2013

Oh and the inflatable cones don't always work--that's what we used instead of the traditional cone and he managed to get around it.
posted by InsanePenguin at 5:39 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

We took it off of our Ollie after the first night, BUT it was only because my husband was unemployed at the time and could keep an eye on him. Ten years ago they didn't even give us one for Max, and he was fine, too.
posted by kimberussell at 5:52 AM on October 10, 2013

My dog ripped open her incision while one of us thought we were watching her after she ate.
posted by muddgirl at 6:01 AM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

I only put the cone on my dog when I was out of the house, and even then it was only for a few days...definitely not the full week the vet recommended.

However, my dog was 6 months old at the time, had never before been in the habit of licking his junk, and wasn't showing a single tiny bit of interest in his not-testicles when the cone was off. YMMV.

The hardest part for me was keeping him from jumping around and bolting all over the house for the first two days. If you're worried that your little guy is so rambunctious that he'll pop a stitch, try swaddling him in a blanket and scratching his ears to chill him out.
posted by phunniemee at 6:07 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

A week isn't that long at all - we had a cone on our pug for 2 weeks after she had knee surgery. I took it off for her to eat and drink, while I stood there staring at her. If I thought she was fine, and turned away for even a moment, she would go for the stitches.
posted by needlegrrl at 6:08 AM on October 10, 2013

I've never had a dog, only cats. But many years ago I had a beloved cat spayed and the doctor did not give her a cone. She tore open the stitches and I'll never forget the ride back to the vet, holding her and trying to keep the pooling blood from spilling everywhere.

After that, she wore the cone of shame for at least a week. She got used to it after a couple days; the biggest problem was her fur getting all greasy because she couldn't clean herself.

I know getting a male neutered isn't the same, but I'd follow the vet's advice; ripped open stitches are no fun for anybody.
posted by torticat at 6:23 AM on October 10, 2013

For our chihuahua mix, we never even bought the cone of shame. He had no real interest in the incision site (larger than normal due to cryptorchidism). But I did research alternatives in case I needed them. Baby onesies/unitards with a hole cut for the tail were recommended in several places. For very small dogs or cats, a sock with the toe cut off could be used.
posted by Talia Devane at 6:31 AM on October 10, 2013

cheese on fries! just leave the thing on. the vet is a doctor. he has only your doggie's best interests in mind. follow instructions and he'll be good as new soon enough.
posted by chasles at 6:53 AM on October 10, 2013 [8 favorites]

We had one who managed to tear out stitches once. That was a long two months in a cone for her after that, because it turned into a really slow heal once the original stitches were out. My wife has also seen a lot of dogs come back in to work after the owners decided the poor little guy just couldn't handle the cone and then oh, no, he opened the incision.

He'll be fine. He'll adapt. It's only a week and your vet is saving you a lot of trouble and money like this.
posted by azpenguin at 7:00 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

As the lone dissenting voice I'll admit I have never used a cone on any dog I've had over the years for spaying or neutering, but I also work from home and none of our dogs were left alone or unsupervised for that first week. We never had any problems. By never alone I mean even if going for a shower and my extended family baby sat if needed.Give a puppy ten minutes alone with itchy stitches, specially in the first few days is asking for trouble.
posted by wwax at 7:20 AM on October 10, 2013

Sounds about right to me.

After my dog was attacked by another dog, he had to be in a cone for three weeks. When I was there and monitoring him constantly, I'd take the cone off (because I could quickly stop any wound licking), but the second I wasn't going to be within arms reach (literally), on went the cone. Get him a comfy cone and he'll get over it. A coned dog is happier than an infected-incision dog.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:25 AM on October 10, 2013

Thanks for the thoughts, everyone. I was planning on keeping the cone for at least a few days, it just seemed like a week was a ridiculously long period of time. He's sort of all over the place, so it's hard to tell if he's going to lick/scratch the stitches.
posted by kuanes at 7:26 AM on October 10, 2013

Even after the wound mostly closes, excess moisture from licking can increase swelling and slow healing, according to my vet. It's possible that your dog is not a wound worrier and doesn't need protection, but this is really not the type of wound you want to experiment on.
posted by muddgirl at 7:32 AM on October 10, 2013

Taking the collar off before a proper 'go-ahead' from the vet invites blood, pain, infection, complications, extra expense, bad juju. I work in a vet's office and could tell you a few hundred stories.
posted by bebrave! at 7:39 AM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Please read my post from this summer about my own puppy's post-neuter infection. Oh dear lord, I really wish I'd listened to my vet and just kept him calm and in his cone. As it was, I wound up spending an extra $300 treating his infection, which also caused quite a bit of stress for both of us and kept him in the cone for 10 days after his neuter.

Oh, and one other thing: my vet prescribed sedatives before the surgery when I expressed disbelief about how I was going to keep him "quiet" after the surgery. I didn't really use them before his infection (I should have!) but then had to keep him on them for a good week after. It kind of broke my heart, but they didn't hurt him at all - he just slept a lot. So if you are really concerned about being able to keep him calm during the next few days, don't be afraid to ask for some sedatives.

Also, your pup is super cute.
posted by lunasol at 8:05 AM on October 10, 2013

Yes, it's very much for real. Cones stay on until stitches come out, end of story. A week is not that long, really.

You do have my sympathy, though. My own pup recently spent nearly a month in a cone after suffering a nasty puncture wound, and it was super distressing for our entire household. But she adjusted to it with surprising aplomb after only a day or two and quickly learned how to make the necessary adjustments to navigate stairs and tight corners. She was mostly bummed about having to sleep on her bed on the floor instead of a cushy couch, but she survived.

Speedy healing to Bentley!
posted by anderjen at 8:23 AM on October 10, 2013

My puppy also got sedatives as I have a super active shepherd and even with the cone he doesn't stop moving and running into walls, couches etc. The sedative barely made a dent but helped a little. We tried the blow up cone but he could still reach his stitches even with that. It was a lot of sleepless nights for us, but they are definitely worth it!
posted by heatherly at 8:27 AM on October 10, 2013

Just like heatherly, my dog actually got sedatives while he was banished to the cone, because he was a nutjob.

He wasn't a puppy, but a 120 pound golden retriever, capable of getting his cone stuck on things and smacking us around with it trying to play. The vet was concerned he would injure himself post-surgery, because he was such a high-energy beast.

So, if your puppy is having trouble dealing with the cone because he's too energetic, you could talk to your vet about a sedative.
posted by inertia at 10:42 AM on October 10, 2013

My female dog was in the cone for three weeks after getting spayed! I had black and blue marks all over my shins due to her constantly bumping into me with the sides of the cone. It was worth it though... the incision healed nicely and she didn't pull out any staples. She totally would have otherwise.
posted by mzwz at 3:07 PM on October 10, 2013

I would keep it on as best you can. My dog prefers the Comfy Cone.
posted by freezer cake at 3:26 PM on October 10, 2013

The cone lasted about half a day on my dog. I finally took it off because he hated it SO MUCH. He left his 'area' alone for the most part. But then, he was over a year old, so I have no idea whether a (very cute!) puppy might be a different story.
posted by trip and a half at 5:02 PM on October 10, 2013

Leave it on! My dog recently went through the same experience and after a few days she was completely used to it. Lucy even learned to use the doggy-door with it on and slept "under tHe covers" with her cone on! They look so pitiful wearing it but they are just fine....
posted by pamspanda at 3:45 AM on October 11, 2013

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