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.

Dogs Can Get the Flu, Too

Cali’s not sick; she’s just bored.

Has your dog been coughing, sneezing, and acting lethargic?

If so, get her quickly to a vet; she could have the flu!

Canine flu does not infect humans, but it can spread easily among dogs who come into contact with a sick dog — or an infected toy, bowl, bedding or clothing item, or other object. Dogs can also catch the flu from sick dogs’ sneezing and coughing.

Flu viruses (among many species) change and adapt quickly and also “jump” to new species. One form of canine flu that exists in the U.S. was discovered in 2004 in greyhounds in Florida; it was found to have originated from a horse flu. A second strain of canine flu originated from a bird flu and was first detected in the U.S. in 2015.

Though one or both strains have been seen in most parts of the U.S., the number of cases is still small. If your dog is rarely around other dogs and seems healthy, there’s probably nothing to worry about.

Canine flu is not seasonal, and many dogs show no symptoms. Severely ill dogs can get pneumonia, but that is rare. Canine flu has not spread everywhere in the U.S. yet, but some areas have had outbreaks this winter, including California and Nevada.

Dogs who are frequently around other dogs, at boarding or day care facilities or dog parks, for example might be good candidates for a doggy flu shot (yes there is a vaccine!). Check with your vet. The vaccination requires two shots, several weeks apart.