What To Do When Your Dog Dies ?

Saying goodbye to a beloved dog is never an easy thing. It’s every fur parents’ worst nightmare. But what should you do when your dog passes away? Is there anyone you should call? How should you handle your beloved dog’s remains? It’s understandable to not know the answers to all of these questions, especially when your emotions are high. But don’t worry because you are not alone. We will guide you through this tough situation step-by-step.

1. What To Do If Your Dog Dies At Home

It doesn’t matter if your dog died unexpectedly or after a long-term illness. Seeing them pass away is just as painful whether it occurred at a veterinarian’s clinic or at home. But if your beloved dog died with the assistance of a vet or at a vet’s clinic, your vet will most likely give you options on the aftercare. But if your dog dies at home and you’re all alone, it is an entirely different story. You will need to make quick decisions and take action right away. 

Here is our realistic guide.

Give Yourself a Moment

You don’t need to process everything right away. Losing a best friend is hard so it’s okay to give yourself a moment to grieve. It can be a sob or a long good cry. Trying to be tough and ignoring your emotions can take its toll on your emotional and physical health. 

If you are having a hard time facing this reality by yourself, it’s okay to call someone who can support you emotionally, mentally, and physically. You don’t have to go through this situation alone.


It might sound a bit weird but you need to make sure that your beloved dog has really passed away. This is especially true with senior dogs, dogs with terminal illnesses, and dogs who have been in distress for a long time. Sometimes when our emotions are too high, we can easily misjudge things.

The Next Steps

If you are quite certain that your dog has passed away, you may call your vet for guidance. But if it happened during the holidays, in the middle of the night, or your vet’s clinic is already closed then you might need to do the task of removing your dog’s body. This might not be an easy task so make sure you have mustered the courage to do it yourself or enlist someone’s help. Here’s how to remove your dog’s body:

  • As soon as your dog passes away, bacteria and germs start to spread so make sure to wear gloves and a mask for protection.
  • Death isn’t as beautiful as your beloved dog. As soon as your dog dies, bodily fluids and bowels will come out of your dog’s body. This is nature taking its course. It might not happen immediately but it is important to get ahead. Slide a trash bag or potty pads under your dog’s body right away. You want to avoid those fluids and whatnots leaking on the ground as much as possible.
  • Wrap your dog’s body together with the trash bag or potty pads that you slid under its body with a blanket or a towel and then place it in a bigger trash bag.
  • Gently arrange your dog’s legs in a natural curled position. When legs are curled up in a natural position, it will be a lot easier for you or anyone when it’s time to transport or bury your dog’s body.
  • Seal the trash bag as tightly as possible to avoid insects from getting in.
  • Place your dog’s body in a cool place to slightly slow its decomposition down while you decide on the aftercare. Remember that weather will always play a big part in how long does it take for a dog to decompose.
  • Clean up after your dog’s body. In the event that your dog died on a carpet, you have to employ a professional’s help. You don’t want to damage it more.

2. Time To Let Go

Painful as it is, it’s time to decide what you want to do with your precious dog’s body. There’s no such thing as a convenient time to do this but you have to decide and act fast. You have many options when it comes to the aftercare of your dog’s remains. Let’s talk about some of them.

Pet Burial

If you have a backyard that’s not flood-prone, then you may consider burying your beloved dog there. It’s the most practical and less expensive however you need to consider the legal aspects of burying your dog in your backyard. You may also check out our article on “ How To Bury A Dog”

You may also opt to bury your dog in pet cemeteries, especially if you are only renting your place.

Pet Cremation

If you choose to have your dog cremated then contact your vet right away. They usually have access to crematory facilities and local pet cremation centers so they can help arrange for your dog’s body to be picked up. 

A lot of dog owners prefer cremation because they can memorialize their pets in a piece of jewelry, scatter the ashes or put the ashes in a traditional urn.

3. Food For Thought

You and your dog’s circumstances might be different from other people’s so you might still have some questions that need answers. Let’s try to answer some of them.

I don’t know the exact time when my dog died. What to do with the body?

The first thing you should do is call your vet. Your vet will most likely ask you to check if your dog’s body is already stiff. The stiffening of a dog’s body usually happens within 3-4 hours after death. If your dog’s body is already stiff, you might have a hard time moving it so the best thing to do is cover it with a blanket and ask your vet for assistance.

How long does it take for a dog to decompose?

How long the decomposition is will depend on the environment and the weather conditions of your location. The warmer the weather is, the faster the decomposition takes place. It will take a month or so for a dog to decompose under humid weather conditions above ground.

What do vets do with dead dogs?

Most of the time, vets usually offer pet aftercare services to dog owners regardless if the dog died at home or at the vet’s clinic. If you decided to bury your dog, your vet will help you prepare your dog’s body and place it in a blanket or a pet coffin. If you prefer to have your dog’s cremation to be arranged by your vet then your vet will have to bring your dog’s body to his/her clinic. Then the crematorium will pick up your dog’s body and return any pet collars before cremation. Afterwhich, your dog’s ashes will then be returned to you in a box. 

In case you haven’t decided yet what to do with your dog’s remains, your vet may offer you to place your dog’s body into cold storage. This will stop the body’s decomposition and will give you enough time to think.

4. Final Thoughts

Losing your dog doesn’t only involve a roller coaster of emotions. It also entails mustering up the courage to handle your dog’s remains. No one is really prepared for such devastation but it pays to have a contingency plan. Keep your vet’s contact numbers on your phones or place them in areas where they can easily be seen. Enlist someone who can help you physically and emotionally. Lastly, it’s okay to not be okay after your dog’s death. Grieve and give yourself time to heal.

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