“The Cone of Shame”: Welfare Implications of Elizabethan Collar Use on Dogs and Cats as Reported by their Owners
Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Werombi Road Camden, NSW 2570, Australia
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Bearsden Road, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 February 2020 / Accepted: 18 February 2020 / Published: 20 February 2020
Elizabethan collars are routinely used in veterinary medicine as a non-pharmaceutical measure to prevent self-trauma and protect certain sites on the body, limbs and head of dogs and cats, and associated negative welfare states. Despite their regular use, very little is known about the welfare implications of these collars. An online survey, aimed at owners whose pets wore an Elizabethan collar during the past 12 months, was utilised to investigate the impact that these collars had on their animal’s quality of life. We found that the majority of the 434 participants (77.4%) reported a poorer quality of life in their companion animals while the collar was worn, based on effects in a range of welfare domains including nutrition, environment, health, behaviour and mental state. A poorer owner-perceived quality of life score was more likely when the Elizabethan collar interfered with the animal’s ability to drink, play or caused irritation. Our findings characterise the specific welfare impacts of Elizabethan collar use, and lead to a recommendation for improved owner awareness of possible harms and the use of alternatives where possible.