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Dog cone, the cone of shame, Elizabethan collar, lampshade, or E-collar are all names for the large, rigid, plastic cones placed around a dog’s neck to prevent them from licking stitches or wounds.
If your dog has ever had a laceration or surgical procedure, you have probably had to place a cone on them to keep them from bothering their wound.
There is a wide range of dog cones out there; from plastic ones that resemble lampshades, to soft pillow ones that look like neck pillows one might take on a plane, and inflatable ones!
But can you make a cone for a dog out of a pool noodle?
Yes, you can make a cone for your dog out of a pool noodle! Used as an alternative to one you might buy, it will prevent your dog from chewing or licking a wound or stitches. All you need is the pool noodle(s) of your choice, measuring tape, a knife, and your dog’s collar.
Before we go into the steps of how to make a dog cone out of a pool noodle, let’s first take a look at why your dog needs a cone in the first place. Then we will explore the reasons a dog cone made out of a pool noodle might be a good alternative for you and your dog and how to make one.
Finally, we’ll discuss whether there are any other ways to keep your dog’s wound, stitches, or laceration safe without using a collar.
When Would You Need A Dog Cone?
Named after the iconic fashion of the 16th-century English monarch, the Elizabethan collar, (or E-collar) is usually made from plastic or fabric and is placed around a dog’s neck to prevent them from licking or chewing a surgery site, wound, or bandage.
Your veterinarian will want your dog to wear a cone because licking a wound can cause irritation, and infection, and ingesting a dressing might cause another emergency medical trip.
However, like your dog’s harness, a cone should be properly fitted and they should be carefully monitored when wearing them, and not only because they are recovering from surgery or an injury.
While a properly fitted cone will not prevent your dog from drinking or eating, a wide lampshade-like cone can limit their vision and frighten many dogs.
In this video, you see the wide plastic Elizabethan collar that so many dogs dislike as well as some other examples of cones you can purchase.
Can You Make A Dog Cone Out Of A Pool Noodle?
If a traditional Elizabethan Collar scares your dog, you might want to look at alternatives for your dog. One study indicated that 77.4% of over 400 participants noted that E-collars had a negative effect on their companion pet’s lives while they had to wear them. That includes, struggles to eat and drink, exercise, as well as general discomfort.
Any dog owner knows how expensive taking care of your best friend can be, so it is good to know there are not only more comfortable, but cheaper alternative to the huge Elizabethan collars. A great do-it-yourself (DIY) option is to make a dog cone out of a pool noodle.
Yes, that’s right, a pool noodle! They are not just for playing in your pool during summertime fun.
Pool noodles are utilized in many different DIY life hacks and home projects, especially for covering or protecting sharp edges. They are used in many dog-related projects as well, and not only to make dog cones. I have seen them used as sensory and socialization tools in puppy classes and as cheap shepherd crooks for dog herding.
Here are some other reasons a DIY pool noodle dog cone might be a better fit for your dog:
- Softer, therefore more comfortable
- Makes playing, eating, and drinking easier
- Less itchy
- Better visibility for your dog
- Customized for a more comfortable fit for your dog
It’s worth noting that any new piece of equipment, from a collar to a harness to a cone, should be introduced slowly with positive reinforcement, like in this Kikopup video.
How Do You Make A Dog Cone Out Of A Pool Noodle?
While many DIY projects you might find on the internet might seem out of your league, I promise a homemade dog cone out of a pool noodle is easily done! Besides the pool noodle, you probably already have all the materials you need and it will take you less than half an hour.
- measuring tape
- serrated knife
- pool noodle(s) (feel free to be creative and mix and match colors!)
- String, twine, or ideally a collar that is already fitted for your dog
Once you have assembled your materials, making a pool noodle dog cone is a quick project done in 4 easy steps.
1. Measure Your Dogs Neck
Using the measuring tape, measure the thickest part of your dog’s neck.
The point of the pool noodle dog cone is to prevent your dog from licking or chewing whatever injury or surgery they are recovering from, so should fit snugly, but comfortably around the widest part of your dog’s neck.
2. Adjust Your Dog’s Collar
While you can use string or twine for a pool noodle cone, I strongly suggest using your dog’s normal breakaway collar. You know it already fits, it is stronger, and will break off if it gets stuck on something. Add about 3 inches to your dog’s normally fitted collar or the widest part of their neck.
If you do decide to use a piece of string or twine, add 6 inches to what you measured your dog’s neck at and cut the string to that length.
If you need to walk your dog while they are wearing their cone, they can still wear a collar and harness at the same time!
3. Cut Up Your Pool Noodle
Pool noodles can come in several different sizes and colors, but a standard, non-jumbo, size noodle with a hollowed-out core from any local store will serve your purpose of making a pool noodle dog cone. One pool noodle should be sufficient for a dog of any size, but feel free to be creative and get multiple colors!
A serrated knife works best for cutting up a pool noodle. The width of your pool noodle chunks depends on your dog, but cut no wider than 4 inches for a very large dog, and no less than about 1 inch wide for a small dog. Make sure you have enough chunks to string onto your expanded collar.
Cutting the noodle up into chunks rather than looping a solid piece of noodle will allow it to flex and fit around your dog’s neck more comfortably. Dogs and their necks come in all different sizes, both in length and thickness! For example, an English Bulldog has a much squatter neck than a Great Dane, so you will have to customize accordingly.
4. String Your Noodle Chunks
Once you have cut your pool noodle chunks, it is time to construct your pool noodle cone for your dog. String your pool noodle chunks onto the collar or string you have measured, and buckle the collar or tie off the string.
You want to bead your pool noodles chunks loose enough that they can be tied or buckled around your dog’s neck, but tight enough so there are no gaps that allow your dog from chewing or licking whatever you are preventing them from chewing and licking!
Here is an instructional video to give you an idea.
You are now ready to slip your stringed pool noodle cone over your dog’s head or buckle on their collar!
Alternatives To Dog Cones
When putting equipment on our dogs like harnesses, collars, leashes, clothes, or dog cones, we have to be aware of safety. Dogs sometimes can hurt themselves with a plain flat breakaway collar, but they should work like the examples in this video.
Your perfectly fitted collar can still cause strangulation, limb or mouth injuries, skin irritation, and overall discomfort. Please rethink having your dog wear a collar if you notice any rashes or hair loss. You should be able to slip your thumb under a properly fitted collar and take your dog’s collar off at night for safety reasons.
Even if your dog is comfortable wearing a collar, microchip them in case they ever slip out of their collar and become lost. Your veterinarian can microchip your dog, but many local shelters or animal controls will offer low-cost clinics.
Some dogs naturally have very sensitive skin. Perhaps you are simply not comfortable with them wearing a collar. Well, there are other alternatives than a plastic Elizabethan collar or a pool noodle cone. There are flexible soft cones and inflatable cones that you might be able to purchase from your veterinarian or at any pet store.
You can also purchase doggy onesies or recovery body suits. These are especially good for abdominal surgeries and hot spots. A quick internet search for specialty ones reveals numerous brands and prices.
However, when my border collie was spayed my veterinarian told me to save the money and use an old t-shirt of mine. I tightened it with a rubber band and it did a great job preventing her from chewing or licking her stitches.
Sometimes dog cones are a necessary evil to keep our dogs safe and help them heal. Your dog might cause an infection, rip out stitches, or accidentally ingest bandages if they can reach an incision or area that needs to be kept dry.
However, you can keep them from chewing or licking their wound, stitches, or hot spots without completely traumatizing them or breaking the bank. A pool noodle dog cone is a great option that can be made with materials easily accessible at any store (even grocery stores have pool noodles in the summer!) and materials you already have at home.
In just four easy steps and 30 minutes of your time, you can create your own pool noodle dog cone that is soft, less irritating, and allows your dog to easily exercise, eat, and drink much easier than a traditional Elizabethan collar. Your best friend will be healed and ready to go adventuring with you in no time!