Homemade Dog Cone: Money-Saving DIY Project for Your Dog’s Needs

Make dog cone
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

There are circumstances that no dog owner looks forward to when it comes to their dog’s health. Whether it’s a major surgery or your dog is incessantly licking his paws, there are going to be times when you need to use a dog cone. Also called and emergency collar, e-collar, or Elizabethan collar, it prevents your dog from getting to other areas of his body that he should leave alone.

They’re typically made from hard plastic, and you can find them in many pet stores. However, instead of selling out money on both gas and a cheap product, why not consider making them yourself?

Making a temporary DIY dog cone allows you to be creative in the materials that you use, and also allows you to make exactly what you need for your dog’s specifications. They can also be a good substitute if the collar provided by your vet has already been destroyed (never underestimate the perseverance of a dog).

Many of these ideas can be made from objects you already have around the house, while others requires you to pay for a few items at a craft store or hardware store to make what you need.

Bucket collar

This is exactly what it sounds like. This is suitable for any dog size, as it depends on the size of the hole that you cut. You can use your dog’s collar to determine the size of the hole and add a few inches to accommodate his ears fitting through. Then cut a hole in the bottom of a plastic bucket and simply slip it on over his head.

Bucket collar

It would be best to sand down the edges of the plastic to avoid any sharp edges harming your dog. The bucket can be worn with the edges facing out, like a regular cone, or the other way around, depending on the area that you need to prevent your dog from getting to.

If this seems too difficult to make or you don’t have the time, you should check out a more comfortable version of the Elizabethan collar — here you can see the price and specs.

Cardboard or poster board collar

If you have large pieces of these lying around from children’s projects, then they work perfectly as makeshift temporary collars in an emergency. Using the circumference of your dog’s collar, draw a semi-circle in the middle of the cardboard or poster board. This may seem too big at first, but it will fit together perfectly when the edges are overlapped to form the cone.

Cardboard or poster board collar

The next step is to draw the outer edge of the collar. The distance between the inner and outer semi-circles should be about 1/2 the measurement of your dog’s neck. This allows your dog to eat and drink with the collar on.

Then, connect the ends of the semi-circles with straight lines and cut out the shape. Use a hole puncher to make a series of holes along the inner semi-circle. You can choose to weave your dog’s collar through the slits, or use zip ties to connect the cone to your dog’s collar.

You can also use shoe string to lace through the holes and then tie it to your dog’s collar, if you want to make it easier to remove.

For an easy demonstration of how to make this collar, you can watch the videos below:

Paper plate collar

For extremely small dogs, you can make an emergency collar quite easily out of a simple paper plate. This can be good to use when you need to get your dog to a vet immediately and don’t want your dog messing with his wounds.

Take a paper plate, and cut out a circle in the middle that is just big enough to slip onto your dog’s head. Alternatively, you can cut out a strip from the plate and fashion a cone shape like the above instructions, and fasten the ends together with tape.

Neck pillow

If you’re one of those people that sleeps on planes during air travel, then you might have invested in one of these already. What you may not have known is that they can serve as very good «cones» for your dog. The air in them holds your head in place so that you don’t suffer from neck strain. The same principles prevent your dog from moving his head too much so that he can’t get to certain areas of his body.

Neck dog pillow

These devices are great to use, as they are quite soft and you won’t have to risk your furniture being damaged or your legs being run into. It can be easily removed as needed and put back in place without much fuss to your dog. It also increases his visibility when he’s walking around and he can eat and drink throughout the day without you having to remove it.

You can see a similar device here and make an idea of how it looks and how it works.

Soft neck restrictor

This collar is especially useful for breeds of dogs with short legs. It can be troublesome to walk around with a collar constantly dragging on the ground. This different style of collar allows the free range of movement and won’t inhibit your dog from eating or drinking.

The materials you’ll need are:

  • measuring tape
  • pen and paper
  • thick foam
  • felt
  • needle and thread

The first thing you need to do is measure the circumference of your dog’s neck. Then measure from the back of his ear to his shoulder. This will tell you how wide you need the neck restrictor to be. It’s a good idea to do this a few times in order to obtain a good average measurement.

Soft neck restrictor

Due to the thickness of the foam, the piece is going to need to be a bit longer than your measurements, about six inches or so depending on the thickness of the foam you’re using. This way, the restrictor can overlap and still be comfortable for your dog.

Cut the foam to these measurements. Then, cut out a sleeve out of your felt so that the foam will fit inside it. Add four to five inches to the length in order to accommodate the Velcro that needs to be sewn on. This creates a flap that can be secured and provide comfort, even when it is overlapped.

Sew around the edges and leave one end open to insert the foam. You can choose to sew this closed or you can leave it open to make it easy to replace the foam as needed. Add the Velcro on the flaps and where it will meet the body of the restrictor so that it fits snuggly around your dog’s neck. Using extra wide Velcro will provide added sturdiness and makes sure it stays on.

Then place it on your dog and adjust it accordingly. The use of felt makes the restrictor more colorful and less of an eyesore, and you can find patterns and colors that match your dog’s personality. He won’t have to feel like a prisoner of the plastic any longer.

The kind of restrictor is not good for dogs who are prone to licking their front legs. Rather, it’s more suitable to prevent dogs from turning their heads and getting to their back ends or bellies. Keep that in mind when considering the kind of emergency collar that you want to make for your dog.

On the market, you can check the BiteNot collar which is quite similar to the collar described here. However, it will take less time to order it and, being made by professionals, it will prevent Fido from reaching any areas in his body.

Towel collar

If you don’t have the money to invest in foam or felt to make your collar, you can choose to use a simple towel instead. You probably have spare towels lying around your home, which make them quite convenient to use in an emergency situation.

Towel dog collar

This kind of restrictive collar is similar to the soft neck collar mentioned above, so it’s not suitable for preventing your dog from getting to his front paws.

The instructions for making a towel collar can be found in the following video:

If you’re desperate enough and you don’t have anything around to serve as an e-collar, there are other items that you can use to keep your dog’s injuries safe, such as the use of boxer shorts, baby booties, sweaters, or cloth bandages.

They won’t restrain your dog enough, as he can still chew these off, but they work well in a pinch if you are carrying him to the vet immediately and need something to cover the affected areas.

Be aware that they won’t work for very long if your dog is an avid licker. In such a case, a natural solution that prevents Rover from licking its paws may be a great help — you can check some great options here.

Dogs can start to act a bit strange the first time that they wear a collar. They’re likely to bump into furniture, walls, and even your legs. Many dogs won’t eat while they’re wearing collars, or just stand in one spot, staring at the floor in expectation that it will fall off on its own.

To make your dog’s life a bit easier while wearing the cone, you might want to check the Novaguard collar — it won’t restrict Fido’s moves and it allows him to feel free and happy until the stitches heal.

If there is the need to remove them, however, such as to allow your dog to eat, supervision is recommended to prevent your dog from getting at his wounds or stitches. The collar should be placed back on when you are not at home or when you are sleeping. Dogs are remarkably adaptable creatures, and will adjust to wearing them in time.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

  • May Walker

    My crafting senses are tingling! But in any case, should anything happen, I’m not pretty confident that I can whip up a dog cone for our dogs! This is very informative and it reminded me to be prepared for any circumstances. No matter how I wish our dogs shouldn’t have to face it.

  • Hilary Reddy

    Loving the many options and DIY in this. Dog cones can be a bit pricey so thanks for these great ideas!

  • Sandra Underwood

    My son’s dog had a nasty wound on his face. Although it has healed, a scab formed and the dog won’t stop picking at it. My son woke up one morning with a his dog’s face bleeding because the dog kept on scratching at it when my son was sleeping. Since cones can be pricey, are these DIY cones durable enough for a Mastiff? Anyone here made their own cones? Thank you.

    • Wyatt Robinson

      There are DIY cones that can withstand the vigor and naughtiness of a Mastiff, just make sure the dimensions are correct and the fit is loose enough to be slightly movable, yet snug enough not to fall off or become displaced.

  • This is the primary reason why we curated this entry. Dog cones are indeed very expensive, and I hope these ideas work for you whenever your dog needs one.

  • You should give it a shot even just for practice should the circumstances call for it. This is one of the few opportunities where you can express yourself as a pet parent, and do something with labor of love. You just need to make sure that the dog cone is sturdy enough, especially if your dog breed is quite big.

  • Paul

    My dog used to itch so bad, I made a cone for him out of a box! It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. However, it hasn’t seemed to actually help. He still wants to bite… Has someone had a similar experience, or any tips on how to sort this out?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Just make sure the cone is properly sized for your dog and the outer rim is not very close to his face (or the material is not too available for him to bite it). I would recommend the towel cone or a cone done from a stronger and more resilient material.

  • Amy V

    Our 14 week old French Bulldog injured her eye and is wearing a cone.. do you have any suggestions on how to prevent her ears from staying pushed forward? Her vet didn’t and I can’t find any help thru google.

    • Wyatt Robinson

      One of my client’s deal with the same problem before and what they did is to cut a little slit on the cone and place two clothespin (the one with smooth jaw and got rubber tips) which secured the ears in place (their dog is also a French Bulldog). They only attach it during the dog’s waking hours.

      • Amy V

        This was our thought also.. we have a couple cones since she has had 2 surgeries which one is a little longer than the other. The longer one is what she wears during the day and the shorter one at night just because it seems more comfortable, we will try this and maybe prevent the ears from forming cone shaped. Thanks for you advise.

        • Wyatt Robinson

          You’re welcome, Amy. That’s also a good approach to prevent your fur baby to be agitated as well. Let me know if this works, and I hope she’ll get well soon.

  • Elizabeth van der Werff

    I ran across your great article while researching how to make my own e-collar for my small dog. I ended up using a $1 dish mat and it turned out great! I have the tutorial here

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Thanks for sharing your tutorial, Elizabeth. Dog cones can be very expensive, but when you DIY it, the cost is really inexpensive and you can customize it.