My doberman, Clementine was spayed last week. I searched hard to find an alternative to the cone of shame (elizabethan collar or e-collar). Since dobes have long, skinny necks, most cones are impossible on them (to be as long as needed, they are unnecessarily wide, too).

I tried a few incarnations, but decided there should be a better way. The body covers I saw wouldn't have worked well (she's too long and lanky) and as always, come with the annoying habit of making it impossible for dogs to "go make" as we say in my house yet with a tail hole that makes it totally easy to get to the surgical site. The solution was to avoid something close to the body and go old school: nightgowns.

Most people put t shirts on their dogs, but the problem is they're not fit to the dog, so they hang about the midsection, and fall off the back, and thus slip up and allow the dogs to lick their surgical site. I eliminate this problem by fitting the shirt through the midsection (where the surgical site is) and then allowing the skirt to fall over their backside. Because its a skirt, it does not restrict movement, and even better, allows them to go outside and go potty without soiling the nightgown.

Tools:

  • 1 white cotton shirt
  • pins
  • sewing needle and thread or sewing machine
  • scissors
  • 1 hour

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To start, choose a white cotton t shirt the appropriate length, do not worry so much about size, though it must be big enough to fit around their chest.

Put it on the dog inside out. Put the dogs legs through the arms, with the shirt tag on the back of their neck.

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While the dog is standing, gather the shirt into a seam down the middle of the chest, as seen above. Do so loosely, it should not be skin tight, but should follow the body lines, all the way to midchest. Now carefully remove the shirt, and sew along the pin lines (I used a tight zig zag stitch on my machine) and then cut away the excess shirt. I left about 1/2" of shirt beyond the seams.

Now place the shirt back on the dog, same as before, inside out. It should fit better within the chest area.

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Now you're going to pin as necessary for the sleeves to be better fit. Starting at the back of the sleeves, by the chest, pin as needed, again loosely. Also pin to adjust the height of the sleeves. They should be long enough to keep the shirt in place, but above the "knee". Carefully remove and sew along pin lines, cutting away excess, as before.

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Place shirt back on the dog, you'll see its a bit more work to get it on by now, but that's a good thing. It should fit the dog, and now we're going to make sure it fits through the waist.

Continue the seam you created along the middle of the chest, extending it to the stomach, a few inches before the legs start. Again, it should follow the body, but not be tight. In deep chested breeds like dobermans, greyhounds, great danes, etc this is particularly important or you'll never get it on again. This is also a good time to do any additional pinning in the chest area to make it fit, in case the shirt is ballooning in some odd area. Take it off, sew and trim.

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Last time! (worry not, my dog is not even that patient, but was so curious about my endeavor, she allowed me to accomplish this task in an hour on a Sunday night.) The shirt should fit amazingly well now, and should fall almost like a poodle skirt at the dogs legs. The only thing you're correcting for now is the length of that skirt. It should be long enough that its a nightgown, not so long they trip on it. The goal is to make it fall naturally, so that it will not ride up, and the dogs can't lick the incision site.

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Make it even in the front and back. You're just lifting up the shirt and pinning it underneath to the right height. And then sew it, by going all the way around, and trim off the excess.

I made 2, so I could have one to put on her while the other went in the washer, since we've got 2 weeks of post op. But it was cheap (t shirt from michaels 9$) and easy and more than anything else, spared us the Cone of Shame.

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In practical purpose it works fabulously. My doberman doesn't have much of a tail, but this allows her tail to move freely as it would any other dog.

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When she squats outside, it doesn't soil the shirt (although when she heads out I can also just fold it onto her back and then put it back when she comes in).

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This might not work for males, but since they lift their leg and thus, the skirt, I suspect it would.

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(day 4 of post-spay incarceration for Clementine the Doberman)