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A necessary item for your pet first aid kit

What do you do when it’s the 7 p.m. on the day before a national holiday and your dog has a puffy, bloody eye?

In the past, I may have freaked out, rushed to the emergency vet and dropped a cool $300-$400 at the emergency vet.

Not so on July 3, 2012.

Instead, I closely examined the scratched, swollen eyelid, fed Luke an anti-histamine and took him shopping.

Living with a bunch of animals over the past year has involved a lot of trips to the vet, not all of them necessary. While I will never regret the grand or so that went to saving Luxor the cat following his allergic reaction to flea preventative, I do resent the approximately $400 spent on vet-required anesthesia and stitches for an injury to Luke’s front leg.

That injury was gnarly — the result of a toy-related conflict between Luke and foster dog Charlie Machete. Anti-biotics were definitely needed to prevent infection and the stitches order wasn’t necessarily out of line. However, in the following days, Luke used the vet-provided hard, plastic e-collar to pry the stitches loose, effectively taking his wound back to square one.

We didn’t have another $400 to throw at the problem, so we helped our dog with other tools: regular wound washing and application of Vetericyn anti-septic spray, frequently changed bandages and a Comfy Cone borrowed from the Our Waldo Bungie pack. 

You know what? Luke was back to his old self within two weeks, and the scar he has to show for the ordeal is totally hidden by his shaggy golden retriever leg hair.

The July 3 wound was way more minor. I don’t know how Luke scratched his lower eyelid, but I suspect it had to do with the allergies inherent to his breed. By the time I noticed, the scratch wasn’t deep, but he kept pawing at it — first with his front foot and then with a back leg — and the wound was widening, blood trickling out.

I hoped the anti-histamine might lessen the itchiness, but I knew we needed to physically restrict him from messing with the wound. We needed a Comfy Cone.

Since this was the second time in six months we’ve needed a Comfy Cone, I opted to purchase one for the Wayward House’s pet first aid kit

You really never know when your dog will need to don the cone of shame. They’re frequently prescribed after surgery, and they also come in handy for preventing dogs from chewing at seasonal hot spots. Scooby once donned an e-collar following a tangle with Luxor the razor-toothed tiger cat.

Several things make the Comfy Cone preferable to the hard, plastic e-collars typically provided by vets. Mainly, because it’s fabric, the Comfy Cone presumably feels better around the dog’s neck. It’s also easy to clean, reversible and can be folded back somewhat at mealtime.

And, for the pet owner, getting bumped in the butt, leg or face with a Comfy Cone feels a lot better than with the thin, sharp edge of a traditional plastic e-collar.

Unfortunately, the Comfy Cone can be a little tough to find — especially after 7 p.m. the night before Independence Day. By the time I realized we needed one, the independent pet stuff shop in my neighborhood was closed, and there were no Comfy Cones to be found at the nearby big box purveyor of pet things.

Luckily, Treats Unleashed, another independent pet item retailer across town, had an XL Comfy Cone in stock and was willing to stay open until Luke and I could get there.

In the end, Luke really only needed to wear his Comfy Cone for about 12 hours. That was enough time for his scratch to scab over and, apparently, his eye to stop itching.

Not having to worry about him pawing out his little brown eyeball during the night was totally worth the $30 we spent on a Comfy Cone. I hope he never needs to wear it again, but at least we are now more prepared in case of another urgent-but-not-emergency dog health situation.

Has your pet ever had to wear a cone of shame? What happened?

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Disclaimer:  I’m not a vet and would never recommend not taking your injured or sick pet to the vet in a time of need. The information in this post simply reflects my personal experiences and should not be taken as professional advice.

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