Can the Cone

No dog should ever have to wear the dreaded “cone of shame” again. So many alternative products are out there.

I recommend getting at least one to have on hand for whenever you need it next. That will save you a few dollars (you know that the vet charges you an absurd amount of money for that cone, right?) and, more importantly, keep your dog comfortable.

Golden retriever Cali wears a navy blue onesie
The surgical suit fits snugly and snaps at the back

Koala recently tried a few options, including the surgical suit, which Cali is modeling in the photo (because a dark blue suit is hard to see on Koala).

It is essentially a little doggy onesie. A quick search reveals that they come in many colors and patterns, and even in a long-sleeved version. Just don’t forget to help your dog unbutton before going out to deal with essential business!

The surgical suit could serve an additional purpose: Anxiety relief. It’s similar to a Thundershirt in the snug fit. Thundershirts, as well as various wrap techniques, help many dogs feel calmer during anxiety-inducing events like thunderstorms or fireworks.

Golden retriever Cali wears her soft cone as she lies on the grassA more common option is the wide variety of riffs on the cone theme. Cali has a small, soft cone (the Comfy Cone) that used to stop her from fussing with her hot spots, back when she got hot spots. She has not needed it in quite a while.

Koala upgraded for her recent surgery, sporting a doggy donut as an alternative to the suit:

Koala wears a soft neck ring
Navy is not really her color.

She doesn’t look too happy about all of this, but either option is better than a cone. She can see, for starters. She can eat and drink, unencumbered. She won’t walk into walls. She just can’t reach her stitches.

You can also find inflatable neck pillows, similar to the ones humans sometimes use on airplanes (remember those?). But Koala’s collar is softer.

Whatever you choose, avoid the large plastic cone. Some dogs, like Jana, are so uncomfortable that they refuse to move. Fortunately, even though I didn’t know about alternatives when Jana was a puppy, she was a sensible, stoic dog and left her stitches alone without a cone.

The oversize plastic cone is a drastic solution to a problem that is really pretty easy to solve. I’ve seen people use toddler-size onesies, socks for sore paws, and other homemade remedies too. Get one of the commercial versions or come up with your own, but forget that awful cone.

Cali agrees. The only kind of cone she wants is the ice-cream kind.

Golden retriever Cali eats an ice-cream cone.

Big Girls Just Wanna Look Cute

Cali, at 8 months old, is dashing full speed ahead into adolescence. Having read the latest studies and talked to her breeder, I know that it is better for her health to wait to spay her until she is done growing — in about another year. That means that she will have a “season” (or three).

Before all the spay and neuter people howl, let me say this: I do not think that having an intact dog of either sex is easy or desirable. I agree that most pets should be spayed or neutered. I also want what is best for my dog, and I know that I can ensure that Cali is safe and does not inadvertently become a teen mom.

Back to Cali’s impending womanhood. We’ve had the talk about birds, bees, and handsome boy dogs. And I went online to search for some britches for my soon-to-be bitch in heat. That’s not the only reason a furry girl (or guy) might need to go shopping. Dogs need clothing for different reasons. As dogs age, some (like some humans) become a bit leaky. Then there are the ones who lose control when they get excited.

dotted skirtWhatever the reason, there are dozens and dozens of fashion options out there. Anything from princess skirts to rhinestone jeans to cargo pants. Camouflage and spangles. Cotton candy pink to red plaid flannel. Miniskirts, shorts, and overalls with little criss-cross straps — even thongs —  for the girls. Overalls, jeans, jock straps and cummerbunds for the boys. Unisex tracksuits, girlie ball gowns, Hawaiian-style board shorts, you name it.

If your dog fits into a purse, that is.

Unwilling to give up after a short search turned up … nothing, I kept digging. I optimistically clicked to a link for X-large Petego Hot Pants. They come in black or hot pink and feature a small ruffle bow. Sounded good (in conservative black, maybe), but … an extra-large measures 16 inches at the waist. Sixteen inches! Cali was 16 inches around the waist when she was 3 months old. Waaay before puberty.

Cargo pants for dogsShe’d look great in a pair of cargo pants, which were offered in sizes 00 to 6. Sounded promising. But a size 6 fits dogs only up to 25 lbs. That mark on the scale is in Cali’s very distant past. (The 00 is for dogs who weigh under 2 pounds. Are there really adult dogs that small?)

Maybe a ruffled miniskirt with polka dots would do? Adorable, age-appropriate, and available in extra-small to extra-large. But wait. The extra-large fits dogs up to 22 lbs. In what universe is a 22-pound dog “extra-large”?!

Checkered pantsCali could have ordered the urban ski pants for dogs from Baxterboo (up to a 26-inch waist) but they seemed a bit warm for a Florida summer. The cute checkered pants, in brown or pink, however, only go up to a waist of 11 inches. Baxterboo did have lavender bell bottoms in Cali’s size (on sale)! But Cali’s not really the hippy chick type. She wants to fit in with Florida’s sundress-and-flip-flops vibe.

Finally, I found what Cali needed at two retailers on Thank goodness for creative, entrepreneurial people. Both Etsy retailers will customize for size and fabric, so dogs of all sizes, shapes, and tastes can dress stylishly during their time of the month.

cali_red stars_cropThe first retailer, CodysHaven, proclaims that “Larger breed girls need to look good too.” Darn right they do. CodysHaven sent us a red, star-spangled pair of shorts for Cali that are adorable. There are dozens of fabrics to choose from, in case stars aren’t your style.

Cali’s second, dressier outfit is from The Purple Puppy. It is more of a miniskirt, with big, colorful daisies and a white ruffle.

Flowers and stars. Cali is, after all, still a little girl. Maybe it’s better that the hot pants didn’t come in her size.

Cali flowered skirt_crop