We don’t have ulterior motives to torture you or your pet, we promise! We aren’t fervently trying to persuade you to keep an E collar on your pet just so that we can secretively laugh at you. We truly, truly just want what’s best for your pet. We know those “awful” plastic collars can be a true struggle for you and your pet and more than likely causes some frustrating events or harsh words. However, truer words have never been spoken: It’s a necessary evil.
We thought the following article was a very good article about the reasons we insist on using E collars and we’d like to share it with you.
By Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ
Ah, the dreaded "cone of shame…"
Any time after surgery, we strive to send your pet home with an incision that looks as nice as possible. The plastic cone or E collar (for Elizabethan collar) was created to prevent licking. Without it, licking or chewing can cause irritation and infection, which may leave a hairless, discolored, ugly scar – for life.
Despite the stubborn urban legend that animal saliva speeds up healing, licking an incision is a sure way to slow down healing. The tongue, especially in cats, is so rough that it can destroy healing tissue and therefore delay healing. Worse: depending on the particular pet or level of discomfort, licking can lead to nibbling and chewing, especially when nobody is around to watch or distract them.
I cannot begin to count how many times pet parents ask me if their pet really has to wear an E collar. And I cannot begin to add up all the extra money owners have paid to fix open incisions at their vet or the emergency clinic. Pets have an amazing inherited skill, which allows them to chew up twenty stitches or staples in less than two seconds flat. By the time you realize it, it’s too late!
Depending on how bad the damage is, treatment may require rinsing the open area, cutting out damaged tissue and re-stitching the entire incision. For a little bit of perceived freedom from the evil cone, clients sometimes end up spending more money in anesthesia, surgery and antibiotics, and even another surgery to fix an entirely avoidable problem, not to mention the discomfort the pet goes through – and a longer recovery.
Leaving the E collar on at all times is the best way to get your pet used to it. If you feel bad for your pet and take the cone off, then put it back on when you leave, your pet may take it as a punishment and may try to destroy it. Patients can eat, drink, pee, poop, and sleep with a cone on. In fact, the stricter you are with the cone, the quicker they will get used to it. In addition, pets do not hold grudges, so they will not be mad at you for being strict with the rules.
As a surgeon, I have witnessed what seems like every conceivable complication. My conclusion is that the plastic cone is the only fool-proof way to avoid incision problems. If you cannot bear the thought of using the plastic “lamp shade", there are some other options your vet may recommend, and you can find other styles at local pet stores or online.
If the incision is over the chest or belly, a T-shirt may be worn. Bitter Apple or similar product may be placed around the incision- not directly on the incision. However this does not deter some pets at all because some love the taste! Other options include a stiff collar that looks like a neck brace; giant donut collars made of foam or that you blow up; and various softer cones.
Collars are not to "shame" pets or annoy owners, they are essential for quicker and better healing of a surgical site or injury. Some might even call it a necessary evil or a cheap insurance policy. Next time your vet recommends an E collar or a similar device, please follow their advice. It truly is in your pet’s best interest.
Veterinary clinics are bound by very strict rules and regulations when dispensing and selling medications. These rules can be difficult for our reception staff to explain to customers that come to the clinic to purchase a product assuming they can do so without having a veterinarian see their animal. We understand that these rules can seem inconvenient but they exist to protect the well-being of the pets we are treating and we are obligated to abide by them.
Grand Haven Animal Hospital and Dr. Sherrill are licensed through the State of Michigan. Without that license we are not permitted to practice veterinary medicine. In addition to state licensing, we are also required to abide by the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics. The difficulty lies in the fact that the Veterinarians Act is not a license for a veterinary clinic to engage in retail but is rather a license to practice veterinary medicine and as such, sale of retail items is considered a type of veterinary service which is unlike a retail store.
This means that as veterinarians we have more legal responsibility and special obligations when selling or dispensing medications. We are potentially liable for any mishap that may occur as a result of dispensing of any product.
Any product or medication that is a prescription only medication by law requires a prescription from a veterinarian, which in turn requires us to have a valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR). A VCPR is required for us to sell or dispense medication to a customer. A veterinarian is expected to make a clinical judgment “based on knowledge obtained by personally performing a timely physical examination on the animal”. This essentially means that in order for a clinic to sell a client medication, a veterinarian must have examined the animal within a reasonable period of time to have a valid VCPR.
As veterinarians we are obligated to assume the responsibility for making clinical judgments on the health of the animal and the need for medical treatment, and in doing so we must have sufficient knowledge of the animals to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis. We also have to be available for a follow up evaluation if there is a treatment failure or adverse reaction. Along with this are several other obligations once we have established a VCPR. Clients have to agree to follow the veterinarian’s instructions if they wish to purchase the medication from a veterinary clinic.
As mentioned earlier, we do understand that these regulations can seem inconvenient, but they are regulations and we are bound to follow them. Not doing so puts our license and ability to practice in jeopardy and we cannot take this risk.