Dog cones have come a long way in the last couple of decades. What used to be tough and scratchy plastic cones of shame are now far more comfortable than they used to be. However, some dogs will still struggle to sleep with a cone on. For owners, this can be just as distressing and heart-breaking.
But whether you call them E-collars (Elizabethan collars) buster collars, lamp shades, or cones, they are essential for your dog’s recovery after surgery, and should not be removed. And that goes for sleep too.
Can my dog sleep with a cone on? Dogs should sleep with a cone on to avoid post-surgical complications. Most dogs adjust to sleeping inside of 24 hours. However, for dogs struggling to lay down there are alternatives to cones that you can buy to make your dog’s sleep more comfortable.
In this guide I am going to explain why cones should be kept on your dog when they sleep. The part you should find most helpful though is how you can make cone sleeping more comfortable.
I’ve included some alternatives to cones lower down the page that you can buy on Amazon that are designed to help a dog sleep after surgery.
Why dog cones should stay on when sleeping
Vets will tell you that the cone should never be removed, even when your dog is sleeping. The cone of shame or E-collar will prevent your dog from chewing and licking the wound which could lead to infection and scarring, or even ingesting any topical medications.
Whilst you might have heard that licking can help with healing, the opposite is actually true. Dog can have rough tongues, and if they remove the stitches and re-open the wound it’s likely you will need another expensive trip to the vets. Possibly even more surgery.
Dogs can still eat, drink, pee and poop with an E-collar on, and should be able to sleep. But what happens if your dog can’t relax and get comfortable when laying down with their cone on?
How to make a dog comfortable when sleeping with a cone
Vets say cones should stay on your dog until the wound is completely healed or the stitches are removed. In most cases this might mean your dog has to wear the cone for anything between 10 and 14 days.
Dogs are resilient, and the majority of them will get used to sleeping with a cone on after 24 hours.
Yes, they will find it disruptive to their sleep at first and could take time to settle down. Many dogs like to sleep with their head between their paws; this won’t be possible when sleeping with a cone on.
But there will always be some dogs who won’t be able to lay down with a cone on to sleep and will struggle to adapt inside of 24 hours.
My dog won’t lay down with a cone on
If your dog won’t lay down with a cone on, here are some tips you can use to help them get a comfortable at night’s sleep:
- Soften up the cone: if the cone is stiff try rolling and folding it for a while. This should help to soften the plastic and make it more pliable to aid a comfortable sleep.
- Use the two-finger rule: make sure that you can slide two digits under the cone. If you can’t do that it’s on too tight and won’t be comfortable for sleeping.
- Create a comfortable and warm bed: the more secure your dog is the better he will sleep with a cone on. Move the bed to a warm place against a wall and give them a pillow or soft ledge to rest their head on.
- Let your dog sleep with you: if all else fails, let your dog sleep with you. This will make them even more secure about the cone. However, once the cone is ready to come off, they might not want to return to their crate or bed!
- Buy a cone alternative: there are now a range of cone alternatives available on Amazon that are designed to aid better sleep. You can see those recommendations below.
Cone alternatives that designed for comfortable sleep
Lower down the page I’ve listed tips on how to make a dog cone more comfortable. However, a plastic cone can only be so comfortable at night. Here are some great products which you can use for sleeping instead.
Other dog owners I spoke too said that the Kong Cloud was the best they had tried, so that’s my first recommendation.
1. Kong Cloud Soft Inflatable E-Collar
You might already be familiar with the Kong brand as they make a range of awesome chew toys. They are also responsible for the best-selling cone alternative which can let your dog sleep comfortably at night.
It’s made from a soft and plush material, is scratch proof, washable, and comes in a range of sizes. It’s inflatable (you blow it up with your mouth) and will stop your dog from interfering with their wounds, whilst getting a good night’s sleep.
To see what other owners say, take a look at the Amazon reviews and prices. If you are an Amazon Prime member you might be able to get it shipped and delivered inside of 24 hours.
2. BiteNot E-Collar Alternative
Another popular alternative is the BiteNot collar. This one isn’t inflatable, instead being made from foam and flexible plastic. More importantly it’s not designed to protect your dog’s eyes or ears, so only use this one for wounds that are on their body.
It will let your dog eat, drink, play, and sleep whilst still offering a guard against them itching and licking at wounds on their body.
Personally, I don’t think this one looks as comfortable for sleep as the Kong Cloud product. It still does have outstanding reviews though from owners whose dogs struggled to get to sleep with a cone on. Check out the Amazon prices and see for yourself.
3. GoodBoy Comfortable E-Collar (budget choice)
For a budget recommendation that still has very good reviews and feedback you might want to take a look at the GoodBoy inflatable E-collar. It’s similar in functionality to the Kong but looks more like those sleeping pillows people use on airplanes.
Like the Kong, you blow it up with your mouth. What I would say though, is don’t use this during the day. Unless your dog is sleeping, the cone your vet gave you should be used and kept on until their recovery is complete.
To find out more about the GoodBoy inflatable E-collar, head on over to Amazon. It’s available in different sizes, but only in a pink and grey color option.
Handy Hint: None of these alternatives will stop your dog from itching their eyes and ears, so don’t use them for sleeping dogs with wounds in those areas, only when the surgery is out of reach on their bodies.
Whilst you’re here, you might be interested in these other questions I researched about dogs sleeping with their cones on. For the responses below I called my vet friend to make sure you get an expert answer and not conjecture.
Should I take my dog’s cone off at night?
You should not take a dog’s cone off at night. If you do take the cone off when your dog is sleeping, it could wake up and irritate the wound leading to infection and the possibility of further surgery.
The other thing to consider is that if you do take your dog’s cone off at night and then put it back on in the morning, he might see the cone as a punishment. Dogs are more likely to try and destroy the cone because of this.
If your dog cannot sleep with a cone on at night take a look at some more comfortable alternatives listed above.
Is it ok to leave a dog in a crate with a cone?
It is ok to leave a dog in a crate with a cone on. However, if your crate it too small for your dog to turn around comfortably you should reconsider where they are sleeping.
If that means buying a bigger crate or letting your dog sleep with you, then that’s far more preferable to taking the cone off.
A dog should never be left unattended with their E-collar or cone off.
Can my dog sleep with an inflatable collar on?
Most dogs will find inflatable collars much more comfortable than the traditional cones of shame. The ones in this list have been designed for comfort and have thousands of positive reviews from dog owners who struggled to get their dog to lay down with a standard cone.
However, there will always be exceptions to the rule. In my conclusion below I give a couple more tips you can consider if inflatable collar sleeping becomes problematic.
Don’t feel guilty about your dog sleeping with a cone on, your dog won’t hold it against you and will very quickly forget once they are fully recovered.
However, if your dog hates the cone and can’t’ sleep a wink after day 2, you should invest in a more comfortable alternative. One night of whining can be expected, but anything after that will need attention.
You be able to stop their distress by letting your dog sleep with you – but if that doesn’t work look to the inflatable E-collars I recommend in this guide.
If for any reason you do decide to remove the cone from your dog at night and let them sleep without it, you must have the dog with you. Some owners have done this with great results but did spray their dog’s paws with an anti-lick spray first (or even placed socks on the dog’s feet).