Laying your pet to rest | Pet Burial | How to dispose of a dead pet

Pet Burial

What happens when your cat or dog dies?

Cats and dogs quickly become part of the family and the love that owners give and receive from them can be a huge part of their lives.  So when a beloved pet passes away, it can be a distressing time for the whole family. A cat or dog might have been part of the family for a decade or more and will leave a large gap after it has died.

What do you do if your cat or dog dies at home? Losing your beloved pet is difficult in any situation. However, if your pet dies or is put to sleep at the veterinarian’s office, they can handle the remains for you. If your pet dies suddenly at home, you will need to take certain steps and make a few decisions right away.

Assess the Situation

Are you certain your dog has passed away? If you have any doubt, it may be best to take your dog to the nearest open veterinarian for help.

Call for Help

This is a difficult time, and it might best if you don’t have to be alone (of course, some people may prefer to be alone). If possible, call a close friend or family member that can help you deal in a practical way with your pet’s remains and offer emotional support. If you do not think you will physically and/or emotionally be able to handle your pet’s body, choose someone than likely can.

Dealing with the body

You can choose to bury the body, either at home or in a designated pet cemetery.

It is a good idea to wait 1-2 hours after death before burying your pet, to be sure of their demise. Once rigormortis has set in you can go ahead with the burial.

  • Wear gloves while handling the body. Upon death, bodily fluids are often released. You may wish to clean the areas around your dog’s mouth, genitals, and anus if you notice fluid and/or waste. Note that additional bodily fluid and/or waste might be released when the body is moved.
  • Obtain a blanket, towel or bed sheet that is large enough to wrap around the body. Also get a heavy duty plastic trash bag (double them up if the body is very large or if the bags are thin).
  • Arrange the body on the blanket, towel or sheet. Place the body on its side in a curled-up position, as if sleeping. This will not only offer a sense of peace, it will also make it easier to handle the body.
  • Tightly wrap the body in the blanket, towel or sheet. Then, slide the body into the plastic bag(s). In the case of a larger dog, this will be a two-person job.
  • If possible, tie the bag into a secure knot (or, tape it closed if need be). You may wish to double up on bags. If the remains will be going elsewhere, be sure to attach a label or tag with your name and your pet’s name.

Burying your pet at Home

Your pet should be buried in something that is biodegradable like a towel, blanket, wooden, wicker or cardboard coffin so be sure to remove the body from the plastic bag before burial.

The grave should be at least 3 feet deep and in a location that is not likely to erode or be accidentally dug up again.

Mark the location of your pet’s grave with a headstone or memorial marker.

Burial in a Pet Cemetery

If a home burial is not possible, you may wish to arrange for your pet’s burial in a local pet cemetery. Your vet can assist you in selecting the most appropriate pet cemetery for your family’s needs.

Your local animal shelter may provide pet burial services.

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