How Long Should a Puppy Wear a Cone After Being Neutered?

Neutering is an increasingly common surgical procedure that many pet owners resort to; it involves removing the testicles of the male dog (or cat or other male animals). Doing so helps reduce aggression, prevent accidental breeding and even reduce the probability of testicular cancer.

Though there is no upper limit on the age at which you can neuter your dog, most vets recommend that you do it around 6 months (though some also say 8 weeks is a good age), once your pup hits puberty. Once the operation is done, it is essential that your pup does not lick, bite or scratch the wound, which is where the infamous “Cone of Shame” comes in; these cones not only have your dog looking like he belongs with Elizabethan royalty but also keeps him from touching the operated area.

You can, of course, expect your pup to resist but don’t give in to those puppy-dog eyes; it’s essential for your pup’s health and post-surgery healing!

How Long Should the Cone Be Worn?

As mentioned, the cone is intended to keep your dog from licking, chewing or scratching the affected area, so the cone will have to be on till the stitches are off completely. The cone has to be on during this entire period, generally 8-10 days; however, it is better to wait to remove the cone till you get the green signal from your vet, which is generally after the stitches have been removed or the wound has mostly healed.

Though the cone has to be on the whole time, you can take the cone off during mealtime but monitor your dog carefully to ensure that he doesn’t grab the opportunity to attack the wound! Put the cone on immediately after your dog is done eating.

Some dogs may not lick or chew the area for a few hours or even days after the surgery but may start doing so once the healing starts and the hair begins to regrow. Remember, your dog can undo hours’ worth of surgery in a mere 10 seconds; it’ll cost you quite a bit to redo the whole process and also put your dog through the pain again.

The Initial Days

The first few days of being in the cone can be overwhelming and confusing for your puppy, which is why it’s a good idea to stay around him; dogs feel comforted and safe in the presence of their owners. Give it some time and see how your puppy responds to the cone. Get the right-sized cone so that it fits well and there’s minimal discomfort; the wrong size will just amplify the pain and discomfort that your pup has to go through.

If you see that your puppy is too uncomfortable in his current cone, you can trim it to a size that he is comfortable with, but don’t trim it to such an extent that he or she can reach the stitches, whatever be the angle. Striking the right balance between your pup’s comfort and the function of the cone lies in finding the right length.

As the healing progresses, the wound may get extremely scratchy and itchy; even if you don’t use the cone at first, you may have to use it sometime later.

How to Keep the Cone On

Getting the cone on maybe a hard tough but keeping it there is a whole other ball game!

It can be overwhelming and difficult for both you and your dog. Here are a few tips to make the journey easier:

Ensure That You’re Always Around

Getting your dog a cone is going to severely restrict his field of vision. Ensure you’re always around to guide him, at least in the initial days. Help him navigate around the house so that he starts feeling as safe and secure as he used to be before neutering or at least some extent of it.

Be patient; getting annoyed when your dog bumps into the walls, doorways and stairs is unfair because the cone is bound to distract him and have him off balance till he gets used to it. But that doesn’t mean you just watch as he struggles, thinking he’ll learn the ropes; pick him and put him where he wants to be or give him a slight nudge in the right direction.

Train Him

Dogs have a tendency to walk with their noses to the ground, often sniffing out trails and scents. With a cone, this becomes hard because the cone tends to bump into the ground. In this case, retraining your dog to walk with the cone on and helping him walk till he’s used to the cone is a good idea. Gradually, he’ll be able to keep his head held high (literally!) and avoid the cone-ground clash!

Know When to Take Off the Cone

As mentioned earlier, your dog can’t always function with the cone on, such as during mealtime. If your dog is finding it hard to eat with the cone on, take it off during mealtime; all under strict supervision, of course! Ensure that he doesn’t lick or chew the area. If the cone is obstructing your puppy from other essential functions, taking the cone off for a while is not a bad thing at all.

Carry Him When Needed

If your little furball is having a hard time walking with the cone on, you may just have to carry him along with you. If you plan to take him out in the car, you may have to pick him up and place him on the ground or help him jump out; you may even have to carry him up and down flights of stairs — basically, any terrain that he finds hard to navigate!

What You Can Do to Help the Healing Process

Though neutering is a standard-procedure surgery, it can still be confusing, frightening and overwhelming for your puppy. He could have a hard time figuring it out and learn how to deal with it! He’s going to go through extreme fatigue; there’s also a chance that he’ll be nauseous due to all the medication that he’s under. Some dogs even have a fever after the surgery.

Don’t worry; these are all standard consequences of the surgery. However, you can always help your puppy heal faster in some of the following ways:

  • Pamper your dog for a while after the surgery — let him rest in his favorite spot, even if that’s your bed! If you don’t generally let him into the house, letting him lie down indoors on the cool floor and letting him stay indoors for a week or so after the surgery is a good idea. Keep the environment clean, quiet and comfortable.
  • Constantly check on him and ensure that he’s comfortable. Try to keep other pets and children from disturbing him as much as possible.
  • Give the anesthesia time to wear off before you feed your dog anything. Hydration is essential; ensure the water bowl is always filled and you can even feed him soup if he’s up to it. Dogs experience nausea after the surgery and are unable to eat normally, eating only half or lesser of what they used to eat. However, this is only for 24 hours post-surgery; anything longer warrants a follow-up visit to the vet. Additionally, if diarrhea, vomiting and decreased appetite persist for longer than a day, visit the vet for follow-up advice.
  • Be observant; carefully monitor your pup to ensure he’s healing well.
  • Let your pup rest for at least a week after the surgery before you engage him in any physical activity. A week is sufficient time for almost complete recovery; post-this, you can take him out for walks and even swims as normal. Restrict him from jumping or running around during this time; if he’s a generally active dog and this inactivity has him restless (or he needs to answer nature’s call), a very short walk on a leash once in a while is okay.
  • Yes, dogs love water! But letting your dog get wet before the recovery week is up is a complete “no”! This means no bathing, swimming or playing with the hose, as getting wet increases the chances of an infection, leading to a longer and more complicated healing process.

After the recovery week (or 10 days, as the case may be), take your pup to the vet to have the wound examined and stitches, if any, to be removed.

Do I Have to Resort to a Cone?

Yes, cones are troublesome — bumping into walls, getting stuck between places, interfering with walking (especially up and down flights of stairs) and even difficulty while eating are some of the hardships pups with cones have to face. So is there an alternative to cones?

Well, luckily, there are! Though similar in structure and design, these cones are softer and lighter and therefore, much more comfortable. Some products have a flexible foam-and-plastic construction that allows your dog more freedom while some others resemble inflatable neck pillows and let your dog walk, eat and carry out other daily activities with minimal discomfort. Some cones even have reflectors to keep your pet safe during walks and don’t block your dog’s hearing or visibility.

Another great option is a recovery suit; not only is it better looking but also allows your dog almost normal range of movement.

The Final Word

Neutering your puppy can have a range of benefits, such as reducing urine spraying, preventing testicular cancer and better behavior in your pup. Neutering your puppy at the right age is crucial; this age differs from breed to breed and should be checked with the vet. Also, bear in mind that a few lifestyle changes are in order post-neutering.

Remember, patience and a whole lot of love are just as essential as actions to help your puppy heal faster. Your puppy already feels bad enough having to wear a cone; your support and love will have him feeling better already!