The Dreaded Funnel Collar

Funnel collar. Buster collar. E-collar. Radar dish. If you haven’t taken one home for your dog or cat, you’ve definitely seen them on the comics page or in a hilarious meme. These are sent home on a regular basis from the vet hospital to keep patients in line after surgery. Although it is really a critical element of the healing process, a frighteningly high proportion of our clients fail to use the collar properly.

The collar must be kept on at all times. When sleeping? Yes. When eating and drinking? Yes. While relieving himself outside? Yes. If your pet needs assistance with some of these daily routines, please do provide it, but do not remove the e-collar because the patient doesn’t appear to love it. Buster collars are unwieldy and inconvenient. Don’t let that deter you.

First, know that the funnel collar has not paralyzed your pet. She may be temporarily immobilized while trying to accept the change in her balance and surroundings; provide a calm environment so that this can proceed peacefully. Second, know that the funnel collar did not induce a psychosis in your pet. He may be fearful of this object which is now omnipresent in his peripheral vision, so hold him quietly and feed him a few treats while he gets used to it. Ask the veterinarian for a light tranquilizer if necessary. Third, be aware that this device can transform your pet into a blundering klutz, but the condition will usually be temporary. Big dogs, especially, seem to derive some joy from thundering around like bulls in a China shop, trying to clear everything from your coffee table and ultimately take you down. These individuals may need to be confined to a more durable part of the house until their sentence is served. Tranquilizers at your request.

We don’t do it to torture you. We don’t do it because e-collars are inherently funny and we want to make you laugh. We sent home the collar because we want your pet to succeed after surgery in a permanent way. Stitches and the subsequent healing process itch and burn. An animal’s first instinct is to turn and chew on the site, and the consequences of this can range from expensive to life-threatening. Please learn from the mistakes of others and know that dogs and cats can never be trusted with a healing wound. When left to their own devices, they return to the hospital with smelly infections, gaping incisions, even internal organs al fresco. Every last stitch ripped out of their costly eyelid reconstruction or wound closure. They may or may not survive the experience, but their vet bills are doubling and their healing time is quadrupling.

Maybe it’s their repeated role as the butt of a joke that prevents people from taking funnel collars seriously, but they certainly play a very important part in protecting your investment after surgery. Prepare yourself for a couple weeks of inconvenience when one of them is prescribed, but be confident that the payoff is well worth the trouble.

Dr. M.S. Regan