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Open AccessArticle

“The Cone of Shame”: Welfare Implications of Elizabethan Collar Use on Dogs and Cats as Reported by their Owners

1
Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
2
Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Werombi Road Camden, NSW 2570, Australia
3
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.
Animals 2020, 10(2), 333; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020333
Received: 4 February 2020 / Accepted: 18 February 2020 / Published: 20 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Domestic Animal Behavior and Well-Being)
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.
Elizabethan collars are used in companion animals primarily to prevent self-trauma and associated negative welfare states in animals. However, they have been anecdotally associated with negative impacts on animal health and welfare including distress, abraded/ulcerated skin and misadventure. This study aimed to characterise the welfare impacts of Elizabethan collar use on companion dogs and cats, as reported by owners. Owners of pets who wore an Elizabethan collar during the past 12 months were surveyed about the impacts that the use of Elizabethan collars had on animal activities, in particular sleep, eating, drinking, exercise, interactions with other animals, as well as overall quality of life (QOL). The majority of 434 respondents (77.4%) reported a worse QOL score when their companion animal was wearing the collar, significantly so when the Elizabethan collar irritated their pet or impacted on their ability to drink or play. While other factors are likely to impact animal welfare during veterinary treatment that necessitates the use of Elizabethan collars, this study suggests that Elizabethan collars themselves might have negative welfare impacts in a range of domains including nutrition, environment, health, behaviour and mental state. We recommend that animal owners are informed about potential negative impacts of Elizabethan collars and harm minimisation strategies. Where possible, alternative methods of preventing self-trauma should be explored. View Full-Text
Keywords: Elizabethan collar; quality of life (QOL), animal behaviour; animal welfare Elizabethan collar; quality of life (QOL), animal behaviour; animal welfare
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Shenoda, Y.; Ward, M.P.; McKeegan, D.; Fawcett, A. “The Cone of Shame”: Welfare Implications of Elizabethan Collar Use on Dogs and Cats as Reported by their Owners. Animals 2020, 10, 333.

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