What to Do When Your Pet Dies

From the moment that we first bring them home, pets make a big impact on our lives. We become used to their presence and develop an affectionate bond with them. None of us wants to think about the day when our pets are taken from us, yet we all know that their deaths are inevitable. Many of us don’t pay any attention to what we plan to do when that day finally arrives and this uncertainty only adds to the stress of losing a part of our family.

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Whether you want to give your pet a funeral or burial is entirely up to you and there are a number of options open to you depending on your individual circumstances and budget, as well as the circumstances of your pets passing.


Dogs are unique amongst other types of pets in the nature and strength of the bond that they form with their owners. It is always difficult when a dog dies and, particularly if the death is unexpected, many people then panic over what to do next. You may find yourself wondering is it legal to bury my pet in the backyard? As with all laws and regulations, the answer to this question can vary from state to state and therefore you should consult with your local board of health and animal control.

If your dog is euthanized by a vet then they will handle the remains for you. They will usually give you the option of taking the body into custody for a special burial or service if that is something you want to do. Otherwise, you can say your goodbyes and they will do the rest. Your vet will be happy to explain to you exactly what will happen. Usually, vets cremate the remains of animals for practical as well as budgetary considerations.

If your dog dies at home then you will inevitably need to handle its remains. If you are planning on having the dog buried or cremated then you should look for the contact details of local businesses that can help. Unfortunately, the remains will start to decompose quite quickly and so you will need to store them in a freezer.


The procedure for cats is very similar to dogs and you should check your local laws and regulations. Be aware that some countries have adifferent definition of what constitutes a small pet and this can mean that what is ok for a dog won’t necessarily apply for a cat.

Assuming that dogs and cats are categorized in the same way in your country, the options open to you remain the same.

Other Pets

For very small animals, such as lizards, mice, or hamsters, then disposing of their remains shouldn’t be an issue; you are free to bury these animals in your backyard and are usually allowed to bury them elsewhere. As always, consult with the local health and animal board.

For larger animals,for example, a horse, you will need to seek out the help of a professional service that can collect the remains and dispose of them you for them. Many of these companies will allow you to have a service if you so choose.

No one wants to think about the day when their pet dies, but being prepared will make the whole process much easier to deal with.


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