What to do if your dog dies at home?

posted on: Fri, 1st Oct 2021

Losing a long-loved pet is always a difficult and sad time for pet owners. If your pet passes away at a veterinarian, they will likely handle the remains for you.  If you lose your pet at home, simply place a call to your local pet crematorium or cemetery as soon as possible, they should be well-equipped to organise a burial or cremation, depending on your personal choice.  

If your pet was elderly or unwell, then you may have some end-of-life plans in place. Planning ahead can sometimes help ease the grief and avoid any panic in the immediate aftermath. However, if not, you still have plenty of options. In this article, we’ve put together a quick guide on how to handle the passing of a dog at home. 

What to expect?

When your dog first passes, it may be difficult to handle their remains and you may want your pet to be collected immediately. Alternatively, you may want to stay with your pet for a while. It’s normal to experience a range of feelings and everyone’s experience of grief will be different.

Expect that your dog may still show signs of ‘life’ like twitching, expelling air, and release of bodily fluids and gas, these are just natural bodily functions that may continue after a dog dies naturally. Being prepared for these responses will help, as this can be difficult to navigate. 

Drop off or collection

Whether you choose the burial or cremation option, you can choose to take the pet’s body directly to the crematorium yourself or they might be able to arrange to collect your pet with their own transport. Once you’ve made your choice, the next step is to contact your local pet crematorium or cemetery to arrange collection or drop off and let them know whether you want to stay with your pet for while or if you’d prefer for your pet to be collected immediately. 

If you chose to remain with your pet for some time, your pet should be left in a cool room for no longer than 24 hours. You should also be aware that rigor mortis – the stiffening of joints after death – can begin to set in from anywhere from 10 minutes to 3-4 hours after death.

On the other hand, if you choose to take your pet to the crematorium yourself, it is important to ensure that you line your car seat or boot with a protective material. Be sure to always wear gloves and thoroughly clean the area.

What are your options?

Even where the loss is unexpected, you still have the option to choose between cremation and burial. You also have the option of individual cremation, where your pet will be cremated alone within a clean, enclosed chamber or communal contraception, where a small number of pets will be cremated together. With communal cremations, we do not pass on cremains out of respect to all individual owners.  Individual pet cremation means you are guaranteed that the cremains you receive will be all and only those of your beloved pet. You can also choose to have plaques, plinths and memorial stones to commemorate your dog’s life; or personalised jewellery to carry the memory of your pet with you. 

Grieving your dog

It’s natural to experience grief when losing your beloved companion. Grieving is always difficult, but there are many support groups and organisations to reach out to during this time. We have put together some excellent options and resources for help and support

What to do if your dog dies at home?