We’ve all been learning about life with an Elizabethan collar for dogs recently, as our Rottweiler Lola is wearing one. She had surgery a couple of weeks ago, and the vet said she will have to wear the collar for 2 or 3 weeks, until he removes the stitches and drain from her abdomen. We need to make sure she doesn’t help the removal along.
(In case you’re curious, the surgery removed a large clump of scar tissue and infection that had been expanding since she was spayed improperly in Mexico five years ago and non-dissolving suture was used. Yuck.)
By the way, these things have their name because the collar is a bit like the ruffs the Elizabethans wore.
For the first few days after her surgery, Lola wasn’t feeling great and mostly lay around on her bed in the living room. When she did move around, she tended to bang the edges of the collar into doors, walls, chairs, and us. This photo was taken on her first morning at home, and we were surprised that she had managed to get into her crate AND turn around!
Eating with the Darn Thing On
She drank easily from her bowl on the floor, but eating was something else. The first night, I sat on the floor and rested her food bowl on my knee. She could get to it but the collar confused her and a lot of the food ended up on me or the floor. Soon, Kelly made her a raised dish and that definitely helped. We had asked our vet about taking it off when she eats, and he said it’s better to just keep it on, as we really didn’t want those powerful teeth to remove the drain or stitches. Here, she’s eating:
We actually have a raised stainless dish holder that can contain two bowls, both water and food, but the collar would have banged on it and could easily have toppled it over, so we didn’t even try it.
At 88 pounds, Lola is a big girl and she tends to shove her way through things. I hoped the collar could take the rough handling–and so far it has–but over a few days, she learned to center herself in doorways, usually.
Lola has long had a habit of prancing into our bedroom in the morning, usually with her favorite toy in her mouth. On the third morning she pranced in, full of zest, though without the toy… she hasn’t even tried to pick up any of her toys or balls. But she was the happiest we’d seen her since she got home!
We’ve been taking her out on her regular twice-daily walks every day, going further as she feels better, and one morning a neighbor called out to my husband Kelly:
I see you’re walking your satellite dish!
What Is It Like for the Dog?
Lola’s confusion over how her world had changed reminds me of what stroke victims go through. Suddenly the whole world is completely different. Here’s a photo I modified (with the ipad app called Pencil Camera) to capture some of that feeling:
Some dogs might try to remove the collar by pawing at it. Lola hasn’t done that. I don’t actually think that she realizes it’s a thing that could come off.
Three Tips on Using an Elizabethan Dog Collar
- First, it is a pretty handy thing to have around, not just after the drastic experience of veterinary surgery but in case of minor mishaps where you don’t want dogs licking or biting themselves.
- You can make one or get them cheaply, and the inflatable kind might be easier on the dog. Here’s an article with some ideas for making your own dog Elizabethan collars. And here’s a link to the Amazon search page showing the variety of Elizabethan collars that they carry.
- Elizabethan collars are sometimes called e-collars, BUT so are electronic collars, a completely different thing. Don’t accidentally buy the wrong thing.