How Long Should A Dog Wear A Cone After Neuter, Spay: When to Take It Off?

How Long Should A Dog Wear A Cone

Canine Bible is reader-supported. We receive affiliate commissions via some of our links. This doesn’t affect rankings. Learn more.

This content was reviewed and fact-checked by veterinarian Dr. Aukse Caraite, DVM.

When it comes to the well-being of our dogs, understanding and adhering to post-operative care is crucial. One of the common questions that pet owners face after their dog undergoes a neutering or spaying procedure is, “How long does a dog have to wear a cone after being neutered or spayed?” This question underscores the importance of the cone (Elizabethan collar or E-collar), a simple yet essential tool in ensuring a safe and efficient healing process. This article outlines the vet-recommended length for dogs to wear the cone following neutering or spaying. We also share comprehensive insights into why the cone is necessary, how it aids in the healing process, the risks of taking the cone off too soon, alternative cone options, and everything in between. Let’s dive in!

Understanding the procedure: Neutering or spaying a dog is a common surgical procedure pet owners undertake to prevent unwanted breeding and offer numerous health benefits. Neutering refers to the removal of the testicles in male dogs, while spaying is the removal of the ovaries and usually the uterus in female dogs. These procedures are routine and contribute to a longer, healthier life for your dog, reducing the risk of certain cancers and illnesses.

Why Dogs Need Cones After Neutering or Spaying

The cone is vital in safeguarding the healing process after a dog has been neutered or spayed. The cone is designed to prevent dogs from licking or biting their incision site, which can lead to infection or re-opening of the wound. 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] 

When to Take Cone Off Dog After Neuter [Spay]?

Typically, dogs require wearing a cone for 10 to 14 days. The cone should only be removed after the wound site has fully healed and the sutures have been removed. The duration for removing the cone after neutering or spaying your dog can vary, depending on factors such as the healing time of the surgery, the absorption time of suture material, the type of wound, the dog’s age, and other considerations.

If your dog keeps licking or biting their wound, your vet might say they must wear the cone longer. But if your dog is healing well and doesn’t seem bothered by the wound, your vet might let you take off the cone sooner than the usual 10-14 days.

Factors Affecting the Duration of Cone Wear

Age of the dogYounger dogs heal faster than older dogs due to their robust regenerative abilities. Thus, a younger dog might need to wear the cone for a shorter duration than an older dog.
Dog’s temperament and behavior: Dogs that are more active or tend to scratch or lick their wounds might need to wear the cone for a longer period to prevent them from disturbing the surgical site.
Veterinarian’s recommendation Always follow your veterinarian’s advice regarding the duration of wearing the cone. They will assess the healing process and make a recommendation based on your dog’s specific needs.
Your ability to superviseIf you can closely supervise your dog and prevent them from bothering the wound, the vet might consider shortening the cone duration. However, if you’re away from home often and can’t supervise as much, a longer duration might be suggested for safety.
Health conditionsDogs in good health generally recover quicker. However, those with underlying health issues or weakened immune systems might have a prolonged healing process, requiring extended use of the cone.
Suture absorption timeDifferent types of sutures are used in spaying and neutering surgeries; each type has its own absorption rate. If absorbable sutures are used, they will dissolve over time, but the duration depends on the type of suture material. Some dissolve faster than others, influencing how long the cone needs to be worn.
Surgery complicationsSurgery complications can directly impact the duration for which a dog needs to wear a cone after being neutered or spayed. These complications can alter the typical healing process, often necessitating extended use of the cone to ensure complete recovery.
Breed and coat typeCertain breeds or dogs with specific types of coats may require special consideration. For instance, breeds with longer hair might need the cone longer to prevent fur from irritating the wound.
Removing the cone prematurely can hinder the healing process. Follow your vet’s advice.

Cone Removal Timeline After Neuter/Spay

ConditionCone Wearing Duration
Typical Recovery (No Complications)10-14 days
Mild Infection or Irritation14-20 days
Wound Dehiscence (Re-opening)20+ days
Allergic Reaction to Sutures/MedicationsVaries (based on treatment)
Secondary Surgery or InterventionVaries (based on recovery)

Risks of Keeping The Cone On For Too Long

Keeping the cone on for an extended period after neutering or spaying, beyond what is necessary, can pose certain risks and discomforts for your dog. A study by The University of Sydney researchers found the following risks associated with cone-wearing.


of dogs have difficulty


of dogs couldn’t


of dogs had collar-related
injuries like irritation, falling, etc.


of dogs had issues with grooming, bathroom, walking, etc.

A survey reported that 77.4% of pets had a 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]

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.

How Long Should A Dog Wear A Cone After Neuter/Spay?

Most skin incisions from neutering and spaying surgeries fully heal within 10–14 days, which is typically how long a dog should wear a cone. In the days following surgery, the incisions may start to itch, prompting your dog to bite or scratch the area. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep the cone on 24/7. The general guideline is to remove the cone after 14 days. However, this two-week period is an estimate and can vary depending on the care you provide to the surgical site and individual factors specific to each dog. Once the incision has fully healed, your veterinarian will remove both the sutures and the cone.

How long should a dog wear a cone after laser neutering/spaying?

Many veterinarians are opting for laser technology in neutering and spaying surgeries due to its benefits, according to a case study published in Veterinary Practice News, laser surgery results in reduced bleeding, less blood loss, and quicker recovery times. Veterinarians have also observed less pain and swelling and a reduced risk of infection due to the extreme precision offered by lasers.[3] Despite these advantages, the recommended duration for cone-wearing after laser neutering procedures remains the same. Even though some dogs may recover more quickly with laser surgery, veterinarians usually advise keeping the cone on until complete healing, which can take up to 14 days or more, as mentioned previously.

When Is It Okay to Temporarily Take Off The Cone?

It’s generally safe to temporarily remove the cone under certain circumstances for specific activities or brief periods when it is obstructive, as long as you can supervise your dog closely. Here are some situations where it might be okay to take off the cone:

  1. During feeding times
  2. During supervised grooming
  3. When applying medication
  4. When taking them outside for bathroom breaks

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. It’s important to remember that these are temporary measures, and the cone should be put back on immediately afterward. Always follow your veterinarian’s guidance regarding the cone and consult them if you’re unsure when it’s safe to remove it.

Signs Your Dog is Ready to Remove the Cone

How to Help Dog Heal After Neuture or Spay to Avoid Cone Removal Delays

Speeding up your dog’s recovery after a neuter or spay surgery can lead to earlier removal of the cone, but it’s important to focus on safe and healthy recovery practices. Here are some tips to aid in your dog’s recovery:

  1. Avoid Baths: Keep the incision dry. Spot clean if necessary, but avoid getting the wound wet.
  2. Limit Exercise: Opt for short leash walks, avoiding rough play and strenuous activities until recovery.
  3. Separation from Other Pets: Minimize interaction with other pets to prevent incision irritation or infection.
  4. Regular Incision Checks: Monitor the incision twice daily for signs of infection or improper healing.
  5. Maintain a Clean and Comfortable Environment: Provide a clean, quiet, allergen-free, and comfortable space for your dog to recover.
  6. Administer prescribed medication: Don’t forget to administer any prescription as directed by your vet.
  7. Contact Your Vet for Concerns: Contact your veterinarian if you notice any signs of infection, discomfort, or behavioral changes in your dog.

Dog Won’t Wear Cone After Neuter [Spay]

Dogs often find the cone uncomfortable, restrictive, and frightening. Dog cones generally result in a narrower field of view and obstruct peripheral vision and hearing. This unfamiliar and uneasy feeling can lead to resistance. The sudden addition of a cone can cause anxiety and stress in dogs. They might not understand why their movements are suddenly restricted, leading to fear or panic. Other reasons dogs will reject wearing a cone include physical irritation from the cone against their neck, inappropriate introduction of the cone, lack of habituation, interference with daily activities, and size of the cone.

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 or opt for an alternative.

13 Ways to Make Dog Cone More Comfortable

Ensuring your dog’s comfort while wearing a cone (Elizabethan collar) is important, as it can reduce stress and help their overall recovery. While most dogs adapt to a cone within 24 hours, here are some measures you can take to ensure a comfortable experience.

  • 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 
  • 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
  • Pamper your dog, as with any surgical procedure, your pup may not feel great
  • Give them a cone break but only under supervision (ask your vet if this is possible)
  • Use t-shirts or onesies to protect further cover the surgical site
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.

Alternative to Traditional Cones For Dogs After Surgery

There are several conde alternatives to minimize the negative aspects of traditional dog cones. Here are the most popular ones:

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.[4] 

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. Here’s how to prepare your dog to wear a cone.

  • Introduce the cone: Let your dog see and sniff the cone. This early introduction helps reduce anxiety.
  • Create positive associations: Place treats around and inside the cone, or feed them their favorite treats while they’re investigating it. Reward your dog with a treat anytime they show interest in the cone.
  • Practice wearing the cone: Start placing it on for short periods while giving them treats and praise, gradually increasing the duration. Hold the cone with the wide opening facing your dog. Reward with treats if their head goes in the cone.
  • Ensure a proper fit: It should be snug enough to stay on but not too tight. It should extend past the nose to prevent them from reaching their incision.
  • Use distractions: Distract your dog with toys or playtime when they first wear the cone to shift their focus away from the discomfort.
  • Habituation to new environment and lifestyle: 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.
  • Be patient and consistent: Some dogs may take longer to adjust to wearing a cone. Remain patient and consistent in your approach.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. You should not take it off at night. If your dog has trouble sleeping, call your vet to see what they suggest. Getting used to the collar at night can take 1 to 2 days.

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.

If you end up using a traditional cone, you can trim it. The cone doesn’t need to go past a dog’s nose. You can cut around the wide part of the cone. If you’re using a cone that fastens with Velcro and has excess plastic on the side, you can also trim that off.   

The fit of a dog cone is essential. You should be able to stick two fingers between the cone and your dog’s fur. It should be long enough that the tip of their nose sticks out. 

Some dog breeds with longer snouts, like Dobermans, need a cone that will be long enough to keep them from licking or chewing on their wounds. Cones come in many sizes, so you should be able to find a good fit for your pup. Some cones have a cone extender panel that you can use to make the cone deeper. Always check with your vet before leaving the office to ensure the cone fits appropriately.

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 and seemed depressed. Maybe the shape of it was not good for him.

It’s essential to balance the need to protect the surgical site with the potential drawbacks of prolonged cone use. 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.

Jennifer Summerfield, DVM CPDT-KA, advises her patients that the cone can typically be removed in 10-14 days. Although the sutures might not have dissolved by this time, the incision should be sufficiently healed. She emphasizes the importance of consulting with your own vet regarding the duration for which the cone should be left. Most dissolvable stitches tend to fall out within a week or two, although it could take a few weeks for them to disappear completely. Dr. Summerfield notes that once the incision has healed, it’s less concerning if a dog licks or chews at the site.[5]

How Long Should A Dog Wear A Cone After Neuter or Spay? — 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. 

Like It? Subscribe & Share!

* indicates required


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

  1. White House Veterinary Hospital
  2. University of Sydney
  3. AEsculight
  4. MSPCA
  5. Pet Coach
Editorial Team at Canine Bible | + posts

Canine Bible authorship represents the unified voice of our entire editorial team and our in-house veterinarians 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.

Similar Posts