What Should You Do If Your Dog Dies At Home?

Losing your beloved dog is a devastating event, and no owner is ever prepared for it. Some prefer for their animals to die at home and make arrangements for it accordingly. But what if it occurs when you least expect it? What should you do first? Who will you call? Not only do you have to deal with the loss of your pet, but you also face the complications that arise from having to deal with the body.

Step 1: Carefully Assess The Situation

Make sure your dog has passed away, to know whether your dog dies or just sick? If you still have doubts, take your dog to the nearest open veterinarian for help. Try to feel your dog’s heartbeat to see if he has a pulse, or if a cardiac arrest has occurred. You may wish to try to perform CPR or administer another type of first aid if you think he is still alive.

If you are certain about the situation of your dog’s death, the easiest scenario is typically to take your dog’s body to the veterinarian for support.

Step 2: Contact Your Veterinarian

During normal business hours, our veterinarian is a good source of information for your decisions when it comes to burial and cremation. They can also help you get in touch with someone who can pick up your pet’s body (like a pet crematory or mobile vet service). In some cases, your vet’s office may be able to store your pet’s body for a day or two while you opt on your next course of action about aftercare arrangements. 

Step 3: Call For Help

This is a difficult time, give yourself a moment to grieve — whether it is a quick cry or a long sob. It will be best if you don’t have to do it all by yourself. So if possible, call a close friend or family member who can offer emotional support and assist you handle your pet’s remains in a practical yet compassionate manner. If you do not think you may not physically and/or emotionally handle your pet’s body, choose someone you know who can do this.

Step 4: Handling The Body

It is not pretty to mention, but you need to handle your pet’s body. If you plan to bury your pet yourself but cannot do it right away, or to have your pet cremated or have the burial handled by a company that cannot take your pet’s remains right away, then storing the body or the remains properly is as must. This may happen if your pet dies in the middle of the night or over a holiday. However, some pet crematories have 24/7 hotline service for these kinds of situations. The most important thing to know is that the remains of the deceased pet must be dealt with as soon as possible.

An animal’s body begins to decompose instantly after death. The body will start to give off a foul odor and attract insects soon. The hotter the temperature, the faster the rate of decomposition. The remains should be properly handled before the onset of rigor mortis.

So How To Handle And Prepare Pet Remains

  • Wearing gloves during the whole process. Upon death, bodily fluids are often released. You need to clean the areas around your dog’s mouth, genitals, and anus if you notice fluid or waste. Additional bodily fluid and/or waste might be released when moving the body.
  • Get a blanket, towel, or bed sheet that is large enough to wrap around the body. Also, obtain a heavy-duty plastic trash bag (double them up in case the body is large or in case the bags are thin).
  • Arrange the body on the blanket, towel, or sheet. It is recommended to place the body on its side in a curled-up position as if sleeping. This may offer a sense of peace and also make it easier to handle the body.
  • Wrap the body in the blanket, towel, or sheet tightly. After that, slide the body into the plastic bag(s). If the dog is large it may require two persons.
  • Tie the bag into a secure knot or tape it closed if possible. You may wish to double up on bags. 
  • Keep the remains in a freezer or refrigerator until burial, cremation, or another arrangement takes place. Or a garage or basement instead of in case both storing the remains in this manner and getting the body to your vet or a local pet aftercare company are impossible, within no longer than 4 to 6 hours as the odor will become severe and permeate your home. Use of additional plastic bags if freezer or refrigerator storage is not possible.

Step 5: Body Disposal At Home

  1. Burial

If you wish to bury your dog on your home or property, remember to check out whether local laws allow this or not. There are areas forbidding the burial of pets, especially in cities.

Prior to burial, get rid of any non-biodegradable materials (such as plastic) from the body. Place your dog in a wooden or cardboard casket if desired. Owners sometimes bury their dogs with their favorite toys or favorite blanket. When the burial time arrives, dig a grave deep enough (at least 1m) in order not to create a health hazard or probably attract wild animals. 

  1. Cremation

If you wish to have your dog cremated, contact a pet cremation unit. You may be asked to pick between private or communal cremation. In a private one, your pet will be cremated privately and you will receive the remains in a small box with your pet’s name on it.

The remains generally arrive within a week, or in one to two days. In communal cremation, your pet’s body is cremated along with other pets and you do not get your pet’s ashes back, the ashes will afterward be spread in a natural setting or placed in a communal grave. 

In general, pet cremation services and pet cemeteries are quite quick and convenient in picking up your pet’s body either at your home or your vet’s office.


To lose a true friend like a dog is never an easy thing, but all the good memories you’ve had together will forever fill you with pride and happiness! Hope you can survive the hard time when your dog’s death and overcome this deep grief!

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