How Long Should A Dog Wear A Cone After Neuter, Spay? After 7 Days? 10 Or More?

How Long Should A Dog Wear A Cone

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Are you curious how long your dog must wear a cone after being neutered or spayed? This detailed guide provides comprehensive information on the appropriate length to keep the cone on your dog after these procedures.

The duration for removing the cone after neutering or spaying your dog varies depending on the healing time, suture material, absorption time, wound type, and age of your dog. One common mistake dog owners make is removing the cone prematurely, which can hinder the healing process by allowing the dog to lick or scratch the wound site, possibly leading to further injury. Despite your dog’s discomfort with the cone, keeping it on as long as necessary is important. This article outlines the recommended duration for wearing the cone after neutering or spaying your dog.

Additionally, we discuss the risks of taking the cone off too soon, appropriate times to remove it, alternative cone options, and more. Let’s dive in!


When to take cone off dog after neuter or spay? Typically, dogs require a cone for 10 to 14 days. The cone should be taken off only after the wound site has fully healed and sutures have been removed. The length of the healing time depends on various factors, such as the type of surgery, wound type, suture material, suture absorption time, age, and other considerations. Following your veterinarian’s advice and keeping the cone on until they give the green light to remove it is essential.

Why Do Dogs Need To Wear Cones?

Dog cones (aka Elizabethan collars or E-collars) act as a barrier to stop your dog from licking or scratching a wound, itchy skin, topical medication, or other injuries. It is common for even the best-behaved dogs to lick and scratch their wounds. For this reason, the cone must stay on until your dog is fully healed.

Benefits of Dog Cones

Sara Ochoa, DVM, at Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital in Whitehouse, Texas. “Cones are important to keep your pet from causing problems with their skin or surgical site. Some pets will easily make things much worse for them and even remove stitches from a surgical site causing major complications.”[1] 

Here are the main benefits and reasons for wearing a dog cone.

  • Act as a barrier that protects wounds
  • Protects them from licking their wound and injury obsessively
  • Promotes a speedy recovery process
  • They promote faster healing
  • Protect head lesions, including eyes and ears, from being scratched or rubbed by the animal
  • Protect the animal from hurting itself
  • A cone may help you avoid paying for another surgery or additional vet visit

Dog Cone-Wearing Risks

Most dogs don’t find wearing a cone fun. And there are risks associated with it. In a study conducted by The University of Sydney, researchers found that.

  • 60% of pets had difficulty drinking 
  • 68% couldn’t play
  • 25% experienced collar-related injuries, including itching/irritation, bumping into walls, falling downstairs, and psychological distress 
  • 10% had other issues, including difficulty going to the bathroom, grooming, being fitted for a harness or leash, getting through a dog door, sleeping in a crate, and navigating indoors.

A survey reported that 77.4% of pets had poorer quality of life while wearing the cone. The quality of life was based on effects in various welfare domains, including nutrition, environment, health, behavior, and mental state. The research also revealed that Elizabethan collars could increase stress levels resulting in abraded or ulcerated skin around the neck and leading to aggressive interactions with other animals.[2]

Dog cones generally result in a narrower field of view and obstruct peripheral vision and hearing. It may be frightening and uncomfortable for dogs.

Inadequate monitoring and wearing can result in injuries for pets, possible deaths, asphyxiation, further costs for their owners, and liability to veterinarians. Furthermore, dogs can destroy their cones by scratching, clawing, or chewing the collar, potentially harming themselves.

Dog Depressed Wearing Cone

Do dogs get depressed wearing a cone?

Because collar-wearing is reported to cause stress, a depressed mood in dogs may result from cone-wearing. Many dog owners report their dogs and cats seem depressed when wearing a cone. This is likely because pet cones interfere with virtually all aspects of their lives. One of the many testimonials from dog owners in the study cited above said:

My dog is a bulldog, and his neck got very wet and inflamed from constantly slobbering with it on. He got very down with it on and seemed depressed. Maybe the shape of it was not good for him.

Monitoring your dog while they wear the cone can help mitigate most of these risks. Prolonging cone-wearing duration in dogs can increase the risks stated above. It’s essential to remove the cone at the appropriate time. Removing it too soon can also cause complications. There are alternatives for dog cones that can prevent self-trauma and minimize the potential negative impacts of dog cones.

Can I Take The Cone Off My Dog After 7 Days?

For most dogs, the answer is no. Unless your vet indicates it, you shouldn’t take the cone off after seven days. In general, most dogs will need to wear the cone for at least ten days, but it may be longer in most cases. Removing the cone on day seven might be too early and could delay healing as dogs tend to lick their wounds. It’s best to leave the cone until the area in treatment has fully healed and you receive your vet’s approval.

Can I Take My Dog Cone Off After 10 Days?

Sometimes, ten days may be long enough for the healing process. However, in the case of a neutering or spaying procedure, removing the cone at the ten-day mark could be premature, and it’s not advised. It’s important to consult your veterinarian before removing the cone.

Can I Take My Dog Cone Off After 5 Days?

In most cases, five days are not enough time for the healing process, regardless of the procedure. Removing the cone too early can put your dog at risk of aggravating the wound or causing an infection.

Never remove the cone without your vet’s authorization and guidance.

When To Take Cone Off Dog After Neuter?

The general rule for taking the cone off after neutering is 14 days. However, two weeks is an estimated recovery time that can vary depending on how well you have cared for the surgical site. For this reason, it will vary from dog to dog. Most dogs will fully recover within three to four weeks after neutering, so you can wait until then to remove the cone. But be sure to get your vet’s approval first.

How Long Does A Dog Have To Wear A Cone After Being Neutered?

Dogs need to wear a cone for 10 to 14 days after being neutered because most neutered skin incisions fully heal within 10–14 days. This timeline coincides with the time that stitches will need to be removed. Within a few days after a neutering surgery, the incisions will start to itch, and your dog may try to bite or scratch the incision, so it’s crucial to leave the cone on 24/7. Once the incision has healed, your vet will also give you the green light to remove the cone.

How Long Should Dog Wear Cone After Laser Neuter?

More veterinarians are performing neutering surgeries with lasers because of the benefits. A case study published in Veterinary Practice News showed laser neutering had reduced bleeding, blood loss, and rapid recovery. Veterinarians note that they also see less pain, swelling, extreme precision, and reduced risk of infection.[3] Using lasers instead of a scalpel for neutering can give the surgeon extreme precision. Nonetheless, cone-wearing duration after laser neutering procedures tends to be the same. Although some canines have a quick recovery, vets set expectations that a cone should be worn until it’s completely healed, which can still take up to 14 days or more, as stated above. 

Dog Won’t Wear Cone After Neuter

There are several reasons why dogs may not want to wear a cone after they have been neutered. These include.

  • Tendency to lick their wounds after surgery. A dog’s natural behavior helps them to feel better and heal faster
  • Cones interfere with their normal activities
  • It makes it difficult to eat and drink
  • Feeling sore
  • It can be uncomfortable and scary for some pets

As a result, many dogs will do anything to remove it. Some dogs may contort their bodies enough to reach their stitches even with the cone, while others refuse to wear it.

If your dog constantly tries to remove their cone or seems uncomfortable, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. They may be able to suggest a different type of cone or alternative method of protecting the incision.

When To Take Cone Off Dog After Spay

Spaying is a surgical procedure that involves removing the ovaries and uterus of a female dog to prevent pregnancy. The recovery progress of your dog’s surgical site, the veterinarian’s advice, and your dog’s specific situation will determine when to take the cone off the dog after spaying your dog. The cone should stay on until the site is fully healed and your vet removes the sutures.

How Long to Keep Cone on Dog After Spay?

After spaying a female dog, you must ensure she wears her cone for at least ten days. An average spaying incision typically takes 10-14 days to heal fully. Keeping your dog’s e-collar on while limiting her activity levels for at least two weeks following the spaying surgery is advised before removing the cone. Removing the cone too early during the healing process may put the wound at risk of licking and infection. However, your vet may want to examine your dog to ensure the incision is healing properly and there are no complications before giving you the go-ahead to remove the cone.

How Long Should A Dog Wear A Cone After Being Spayed?

Generally, it is suggested that the cone be kept on for 10-14 days following a spaying surgery, as this is the typical healing period for the incision site.

Taking Off The Cone After Neutering & Spaying Stitches

Dog surgical stitches stay long enough to promote complete healing of neutering or spaying procedures and must be removed by a vet. Typically, stitches are usually removed 10-14 days after the operation. At this time, your vet may also remove your dog’s cone. A less invasive operation, such as neutering or spaying, should heal within two weeks. However, a more complicated surgery, such as a hip replacement, could take several months to heal completely. Your veterinarian may choose to extend cone-wearing until he deems it’s safe for your dog not to wear one.

How Long Should A Dog Wear A Cone After Neutering & Spaying With Dissolvable Stitches?

Jennifer Summerfield, DVM CPDT-KA Veterinarian, tells her patients they can remove the cone in 10-14 days. The sutures won’t be dissolved yet, but the incision will be healed at that point. She recommends asking your vet how long you should leave the cone on. Most dissolvable stitches fall out within a week or two, although it may be a few weeks before they disappear entirely. But it doesn’t matter if your dog licks or chews the incision before that, as long as it has already healed, says Dr. Summerfield.[4]

How To Make Dog Cone More Comfortable

Most pets adapt to a cone within 24 hours, but if your dog is uncomfortable wearing it, here are some things you can do to make it easier on your pet.

Remember: A well-fitted cone will be snug around the neck, loose enough to insert one or two fingers between the collar and neck but tight enough to keep your dog from removing it. It is important to avoid applying pressure to the neck with any hard edges. The cone should extend beyond the animal’s nose, depending on the area you want to protect. 

  • Make extra room and remove obstacles in your home that may obstruct your dog’s path.
  • Help them navigate throughout the home and outside until they get used to it.
  • Don’t leave them alone or unattended
  • Pull food and water bowls away from the walls
  • If you have stairs, be sure to home-proof your home and living space so your dog doesn’t fall or trip over something.
  • Consider hand-feeding your dog and assisting them with drinking water
  • Make sure the cone fits well  
  • Use cone alternatives to the traditional Elizabeth collar
  • Keeping the cone on and adjusting with it
  • Ensuring the dog cone is not tight
  • Praise and reinforce good cone behavior
  • Carry your pup when necessary (i.e., stairs, getting in the car, etc.)
  • Create a comfortable spot for them to sleep
  • Give them a cone break but only under supervision (ask your vet if this is possible)
  • The Massachusetts SPCA recommends using t-shirts to protect your pets after surgery. 

When Is It Okay To Temporarily Take Off The Cone?

As your dog starts to recover, removing the cone under supervision for specific activities or brief periods when the cone is obstructive may be suitable. For instance, when inconvenient, you can take off the cone during mealtime or other short instances.

A study revealed that more than half (54.1%) of pet owners removed the Elizabethan collar only when the animal was under supervision, and 24.9% removed the Elizabethan collar for certain activities, for example, when the animal was being fed or given water.[2]

Direct supervision means Fido is in plain sight, and you can immediately stop any undesired licking, biting, rubbing, or scratching. The cone should be immediately and securely replaced as soon your dog is finished eating, or you cannot provide direct supervision.

How To Prepare Your Dog For Wearing A Cone

The goal is for your dog to see the cone (Elizabeth collar) as neutral or positive.

If you know ahead of time that your pup will need to wear a cone, you can take steps to get them used to it.

  • Hold the cone or put it near you on the ground.
  • Reward your dog with a treat anytime they show interest in the cone.
  • Hold the cone with the wide opening facing your dog. Reward with treats if their head goes in the cone.
  • Present the cone with a small opening. Reward with treats if they put their head in the cone.

In the beginning, keep these sessions around 3-5 minutes.

  • Begin to increase the duration. Reward your dog for keeping its head in the cone longer and longer. 
  • Add in rotating the cone around their head while wearing it—reward throughout. 
  • Tap on the cone inside and outside to help your dog get used to the different sounds they will hear.
  • Walk around with your dog while wearing the cone to help you get used to maneuvering with it.
  • Encourage them to keep their head up while walking to avoid hitting the floor.
  • Help them move through doorways and around corners so they learn not to run into them.

How To Put A Cone On A Dog? 

Putting a cone on your dog should be easy. Here is a video that demonstrates the correct way to put it on.

Can Dogs Escape From The Cone?

Four hundred thirty-four pet parents reported that 23.7% of their pets sometimes removed the Elizabethan collar themselves, and 4.8% did so frequently. This is a considerable risk; you must take the necessary precautions to avoid this. If you have a Houdini dog at home, a more secure fastening of the e-collar may be an essential or better alternative.

You can prevent this by tying the cone to the animal’s regular collar or harness or opt-out for a more secure alternative.

Alternative to Dog Cones

Experts recommend exploring alternative methods to dog cones to minimize negative welfare impacts, including self-trauma, injury, or misadventure. If your dog won’t wear a cone, here are our top recommended options for dog cone alternatives.

Soft Collars

Soft collars can be a good alternative if you think the hard plastic on a traditional cone is an issue. As the name suggests, they are more delicate and can be more comfortable. Another benefit is some soft collars fold down to make it easier for your pet to eat and drink. The Comfy Cone E-Collar for Dogs is an excellent alternative to the traditional plastic dog cone. It’s a soft, cone-shaped Elizabethan collar that helps your precious pet heal and recovers in comfort from surgeries, procedures, allergic reactions, hot spots, and more. Alfie Pet Keeva Recovery Collar for Dogs is another good option.

A few disadvantages to be aware of are that dogs can pull these off easily and are not see-through, so your pup may have difficulty seeing in front of them.

Inflatable Collars

Inflatable collars might sometimes work but aren’t meant for long-term use. These collars can puncture easily, so pet parents should pay close attention to the collar’s condition if they choose this option. Additionally, inflatable e-collars may not effectively block access to all body parts. They do offer increased mobility and visibility compared to other options. ZenPet ZenCollar Inflatable Recovery Dog is a top choice. BENCMATE Protective Inflatable Collar is also good.

Neck Collar

Neck collars look a lot like a neck brace a human would wear. They’re smaller and softer than a traditional cone and wrap around the neck. These prevent dogs from reaching any area behind their neck and are supposed to let your pup lie down, sleep, eat and drink comfortably. The neck collar is not meant to be worn longer than 8-10 hours, and if your dog needs a long cone to keep them from biting and scratching, this may not be your option. It’s sturdier than the inflatables. It is not recommended for protecting ears or eyes, though. The BiteNot Collar is our top pick in this category.

Surgical Recovery Suit

This is not a cone. The surgical recovery suit is a fabric that covers most of the dog’s body, like a baby onesie. It can be a good option if your dog can’t stand to have anything on its neck. Heavy chewers could cause it to get ripped. It acts as a second skin. It lets your dog follow his routine while keeping the wound clean, dry, and protected. The material allows air to circulate through the wound for healing, with built-in pockets for gauze pads.

Suitical Recovery Suit for Dogs and Dotoner Dog Bodysuit are excellent choices. The Massachusetts SPCA recommends using t-shirts to protect your pets after surgery.[5] 

Frequently Asked Questions About Cone Wearing After Neuter & Spay

Here are some common questions about dog cone-wearing our readers ask.

How Long Should A Dog Wear A Cone After Neutering or Spaying? — Conclusion

In conclusion, the length of time a dog should wear a cone depends on the individual dog and the reason for the cone. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations if your dog has neutering or spaying surgery. For other timelines on taking the cone off for surgeries such as eye or knee, please read our article on how long dogs should wear a cone after surgery.

Ensuring your dog wears the cone for the required amount is necessary for healing. A dog that doesn’t wear a cone when needed can lead to complications such as aggravating the injury or wound. 

Overall, the most important thing is monitoring your dog and ensuring the cone is not causing any problems. If you have any concerns, consult your veterinarian before removing the cone. 

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Canine Bible uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

[1] White House Veterinary Hospital [2] University of Sydney [3] AEsculight [4] Pet Coach [5] MSPCA

Editorial Team at Canine Bible | + posts

Canine Bible authorship represents the unified voice of our entire editorial team rather than a single author. Each article, blog post, and review published under the Canine Bible name undergoes a rigorous review process, involving all team members to guarantee accuracy and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research. This collaborative effort is an integral part of our editorial process and aligns with our four pillars of content creation. This approach ensures our content is backed by expert knowledge and factual information, offering our readers reliable, actionable, and trustworthy content.

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