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How To Bury A Dog That’s Died

Only pet owners understand the grief of losing a dog.

You lose a friend, a protector.

The best you can do is give your dog a proper send-off.

If you choose a home burial for your precious animal, then you’ll have made the right choice.

This article will show you how to bury your dog at home and everything else you need to know.

Things To Consider Before Your Dog’s Burial

  1. The legalities. Check with your local authorities if it’s legal to bury your dog at home. Different cities and states have different rules.
  2. Will you move out soon? If you don’t want to leave your friend’s remains with strangers, there are other options which you will find in the last part of this article.
  3. Is your dog considered hazardous waste? If your pet died of a contagious disease, you need to take more caution.

If you are planning euthanasia, then you should know this about dying dogs.

When your dog dies, he will very likely excrete body fluids as the muscles lose control.

For this reason, you should lie your dog on a plastic sheet to catch the fluids.

Or do it outside where the fluids won’t be a bother.

As you move his body, gases might also escape from the belly.

It’s normal.

If your dog died a natural death, this is how you can ascertain that he is dead.

  1. Stiff and cold body. The sure sign of death is stiffness (or rigor mortis). If you can’t flex the muscles and the dog feels cold and dry, then he’s dead.
  2. Check the heartbeat. You can check for a dog’s heartbeat in these two places: On the chest (between the front legs) and in the groin area where the back leg meets the belly.

Preparing Your Dog’s Body After Death

There’s not much preparation needed for your dead friend.

Wrap him in a blanket, towel, or any biodegradable material.

You can add a sheet of plastic to avoid the messy fluids as you move your dog.

Make sure to take off the plastic during burial.

If your pet died of a contagious disease, make sure to have your gloves on.

It is best to hand him over to a pet disposal service near you.

Ask your local vet for this information.

Should Your Other Pets See Your Dead Dog?

You can invite your other pets to see and smell their dead friend.

According to the American Kennel Club, your other dogs will notice the missing friend, and they may show signs of grieving.

Or sometimes (depending on the companionship the dogs had), your other dog might simply brush away the death and move on.

How Long Can You Wait To Bury A Dog?

You can bury your dog in the next minutes or few hours after confirming the death.

You and the family can spend this time with your dog as it’s the last time you will touch him.

Your dead dog won’t start producing a smell in hours, but bury him at least within 24 hours.

If you can’t bury your dog immediately, on the same day or the next, you will need a freezer to slow down decomposition.

Decomposition begins immediately after death, but you won’t see visible signs in the next 24 hours or more.

Choosing Your Dog’s Grave Location

Do not bury your dog in a site prohibited by the state.

For example, in Washoe County, Nevada, you shouldn’t bury your dog on someone else’s property.

You shouldn’t also bury in an open space where wild animals and the neighbor’s animals could access the grave and uncover it.

Be sure to check with the local authorities.

The backyard is the most ideal location, but the idea still faces controversy.

Some people advise against backyard burial for valid reasons.

Specifically, if your dog was euthanized, the medicine used could poison a scavenging animal (which could be your other pet).

But this shouldn’t be a problem if you place your dead friend 5ft under.

Other considerations when choosing a pet gravesite:

  • Do you intend to excavate the area soon? Avoid the place.
  • Is there a water source (river, well, stream, etc.) close to the site? According to Washoe County regulations, choose a gravesite at least 100m away from a drinking water source.
  • Are there underground water pipes or utility cables running near the area? You don’t need to disrupt these.

How To Dig A Pet’s Grave

After choosing the gravesite, the next decision is the grave size.

A pet’s grave does not need to be too deep.

But it also needs to be deep enough to keep away scavengers or other dogs who may uncover the grave.

So, the ideal grave depth is 4ft or 5ft deep.

You should have at least 3ft of sand above your pet’s body.

As for the hole’s length and width, use your pet’s body as the guideline.

Use a measuring tape to measure the length and width of your dog in the position that you expect to bury them.

Then get a sharp spade or backhoe to dig up the hole.

Don’t force your dog into a hole they can’t fit in.

That’s against Nevada’s county laws, and the same may be true in your county.

It just doesn’t feel right either.

Burying Your Dog

The best you can do is get a wooden, wicker, or cardboard coffin.

But if you are a minimalist, a towel or blanket will do.

Swaddle your dog’s body in the towel and bury him in it.

The only thing to avoid is covering your dog in a plastic bag or other non-biodegradable material.

Non-biodegradable materials will slow down your dog’s decomposition.

Plus, they are harmful to the environment.

Do you have to cover your dog? No.

You can also bury your dog without any covering.

It won’t change anything unless it makes you feel better.

Carry your dog to the grave and lie him in.

Honoring Your Dead Dog

Honor your dead dog’s memories in whichever way that suits your family.

If you feel the need to hold a funeral with your family, then organize it.

Rituals like funerals help people cope with grief as you all express your feelings openly. 

You can make the grave special by planting a tree or flower on the grave.

Or write a poem or letter and secure it on the grave.

Or a memorial stone if you wish.

Other Ways To Handle A Dead Dog


Cremation is fast and easy when you don’t own a property to bury your pet.

You can carry the ashes with you whenever you move or sprinkle them around some plant.

Some people choose to carry their pet’s ashes to their graves.

Please note that most pet cremations are mass cremations unless you specifically request for individual cremation.

Professional Burial In A Pet Cemetery.

If your vet declares that your pet is hazardous waste, a pet cemetery is a safer burial site.

At a fee, the professionals will take care of the burial and leave you to grieve.

This is one generous move that could help other dogs and even humans.

Scientists will appreciate your dog’s body for research on diseases and genetics.

Hopefully, you’ve learned all you needed to know about burying your precious animal after they have passed on.

When grieving, do whatever gives you peace.

If you or your child needs help coping with the grief, get the help you need.

You do not need to explain your feelings to anyone.

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National Canine Research Association of America