What to Do if Your Dog Dies at Home

Assess the Situation

Are you sure your dog has passed away? If you have any doubt, it’s best to take your dog to the nearest open veterinarian for help. Try to feel your dog’s heartbeat to find out 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 your dog may still be alive.If you are certain that your dog has passed away, the easiest scenario is typically to take your dog’s body to the veterinarian for assistance.

Contact Your Veterinarian

If it is during normal business hours, your vet’s office can help talk you through the steps. They may also have a way of getting you 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 make a decision about aftercare arrangements, such as cremation or burial. Your vet’s office should also be able to put you in contact with a local company to handle cremation or burial. Fortunately, most vets have a relationship with at least one local business that offers these services.

Call for Help

This is a difficult time, so it might be best if you don’t have to be alone. If possible, call a close friend or family member who can offer emotional support and help you handle your pet’s remains in a practical yet compassionate manner. If you do not think you will physically and/or emotionally be able to handle your pet’s body, choose someone who you know can do this.

Handling the Body

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

How to Handle and Prepare Pet Remains

  • Wear gloves while handling the body. Upon death, bodily fluids are often released. You may wish 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 the body is moved.
  • Obtain a blanket, towel or bed sheet that is large enough to wrap around the body. Also, get a heavy-duty plastic trash bag (double them up if the body is very large or if the bags are thin).