No one enjoys thinking about how they’ll dispose of their beloved dog once it passes away. So, when the inevitable moment comes, you might be at a loss for what to do.
Rest easy; we’ll teach you how to care for your dog’s body as soon as it passes.
We’ll also discuss four options for where to put the corpse.
Initial Steps for Disposing of a Dead Dog
Time is of the essence when your dog dies since decomposition begins quickly.
Therefore, assuming you didn’t put your dog asleep at a veterinary clinic, below are the steps you should take immediately upon encountering a dead dog.
Step 1: Gather Plastic Bags and Towels
If your dog recently passed away, there shouldn’t be many or any fluids leaking out of their body yet.
However, if you encounter a deceased dog that’s been lying around for a while, you can expect it to get messy. So, arm yourself with plastic bags (preferably garbage bags) and towels.
Step 2: Slip a Bag Beneath the Dog
You’re going to need to move your dog, and you don’t want its fluids adorning your floor. So, as gracefully as possible, work a plastic bag beneath the dog.
Make sure the plastic bag is significantly larger than the dog. You may have to use two bags if the dog is larger. You can even scoot a piece of cardboard beneath the plastic for support.
Step 3: Arrange the Dog on the Bag
For the sake of making it easier to move your dog and taking up less space, it’s best to arrange them on top of the plastic bag. Ideally, you should put the dog in a fetal position.
Step 4: Wrap Your Dog
Use one or more towels and wrap them around your dog, including the plastic bag.
You can also use a sheet, which is a particularly good option if you have a large dog.
Step 5: Place Your Dog in a Plastic Bag
You’ll need yet another plastic bag for this final step.
With the help of someone else holding the bag open, carefully pick up your dog wrapped in a towel and place them inside the bag.
Should you have a large dog, you’ll likely need to use two garbage bags (one on either end of the dog).
Step 6: Keep Your Dog in a Cool Place
By now, you’ve completed half the disposing of your dog process. Now, you need to figure out where to put the body. We’ll cover your options next.
In the meantime, keep your deceased dog in a cool place. You can even place small dogs in the refrigerator.
A Brief Overview of Decomposition
Dogs undergo five stages when they decompose. If you need to dispose of a dog you own, you’ll likely encounter them in the fresh or bloat stage.
The fresh stage remains for up to six hours after death. Blood will start sinking to the bottom of the body, and flies will start noticing your dog’s corpse.
When gases begin building up on a dog’s body, the decomposition process moves into the bloat stage.
Should you find a dead dog in the wild, they might be in the active decay stage, where all fluids are out of their body.
If you encounter a dog in the advanced decay or dry remains stage, you’re in the clear; the decomposition process is advanced enough so that you don’t have to dispose of the body.
Where to Dispose of Your Dead Dog
The time has come to choose the final resting site for your dog. The best choice will vary depending on the person and your circumstances.
The options you have are as follows:
- Burial on your property
- Pet cemetery
- Local animal control
Burial on Your Property
There’s nothing like keeping your beloved dog close to home. So, if you have the space to do so, burying your dog in your backyard is a wonderful way to honor them.
When choosing where to bury your dog, avoid areas that could get dug up, such as a garden.
You should also pick a spot that has good drainage to prevent a flood from unearthing your pet.
Dig the grave a minimum of three feet deep, although we recommend four feet. Remember, your dog will take up space (usually around one foot).
Therefore, you’ll have two to three feet of soil on top of your dog. That’s enough to prevent scavengers from smelling and digging up its corpse.
You shouldn’t bury your dog in plastic since it prevents proper decomposition and harms the environment. So, you’ll need to remove the plastic you wrapped your dog in earlier.
Of course, if you’re able to bury your dog right away, then wrapping them in plastic as we described above isn’t necessary.
Once you place your dog in its grave, fill in the soil. You’ll have excess dirt since your dog will take up space—don’t throw it away.
Instead, pile the dirt on top of the grave. Over time, the soil will settle in, compacting down and further protecting your dog’s corpse from scavengers and erosion.
As a word of caution, make sure you’d be comfortable leaving your dog cemetery behind should you move away.
Burying your dog in a pet cemetery isn’t cheap, but it’s an excellent option if you want a place where you can visit them for the rest of your life.
Although pet cemeteries are becoming more common, be prepared to travel some distance to find one, depending on where you live.
Most pet cemeteries offer a package including a casket, opening the gravesite, closing the grave, and, of course, the plot of land itself.
You can expect to spend a minimum of a few hundred dollars on a pet cemetery. But many dog owners agree it’s a small price to pay for the joy their dog brought them.
In the United States, the average cremation rate is over one million pets per year. Needless to say, cremation is one of the most popular ways for people to dispose of their dogs.
Part of the reason for this is because cremation is a less messy process. It also offers you a hands-off approach to handling your beloved dead dog.
The other reason dog cremation is so popular is that it allows you to take your cremated dog with you regardless of where you move.
Some people even request that their cremated dog gets buried with them when they die.
The cost to cremate your dog varies significantly depending on the dog’s size and whether you choose a communal or private cremation.
That leads us to our next point—know which type of cremation you want. Most dog owners prefer a private cremation so that the company doesn’t mix their dog’s ashes with other animals.
Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the most reliable companies for dog cremation in your area.
Local Animal Control
Calling animal control may feel like an anticlimactic way to part from your beloved dog.
However, it’s a good choice for people who don’t have the money or yard space to do any of the other options discussed here.
Furthermore, if you’re of the mindset that your dog is in dog heaven, you’re likely less attached to the idea of holding on to its physical remains.
Animal control is a government-based program that utilizes donations, grants, and your tax dollars to operate.
In some cases, animal control may charge a small fee to dispose of your dog. In other cases, they may do so for free.
They’ll often offer you two options: Bring the deceased dog to their office yourself or request to have the dog picked up from your home.
How to Check That Your Dog Died
It’s a gruesome topic, but an important one—you don’t want to dispose of your dog if they’re still living.
So, if you think there’s a possibility that your dog could still be alive, follow the procedures below:
- Watch the belly for movement. A dying dog often has shallow breathing, so be on the lookout for minor movements.
- Look at their gums. Living dogs have bright pink gums. A deceased dog’s gums fade in color the longer the time passes from when they died.
- Identify if there’s a pulse. Place two fingers either on their chest between their front legs or on the inside of their back legs where the leg meets the body.
- Check for stiffness. Rigor mortis is a natural part of any animal or human death. It causes the body to become stiff and is one of the best ways to recognize death.
Losing a dog is hard. One of the last things you likely want to do while you’re grieving is spending hours figuring out how to dispose of its body.
We hope the information here gives you peace of mind that you have many options for finding a final resting place for your beloved dog.
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