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What to Do If Your Dog Dies at Home


A senior dog asleep

Losing a beloved pet is an incredibly difficult experience that many dog owners unfortunately face. The average lifespan of a dog ranges between ten and twelve years, meaning it's a situation most pet owners will encounter. The sudden or expected loss of your furry companion at home can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of the next steps. This guide aims to offer comfort and practical advice on how to handle the situation when your dog dies at home, ensuring dignity for your pet and peace of mind for you.


First Steps to Take - Contact Your Veterinarian

The moment you realise your dog has passed away at home, your first call should be to your veterinarian. They can provide guidance on how to handle your pet's remains and may offer services for cremation or burial. If they cannot accommodate your needs, they'll likely recommend a pet cemetery or a cremation service that can. In situations where you will need to transport your pet for aftercare, and you're unable to do so, consider asking a close friend or family member for assistance. Alternatively, pet ambulances exist in some areas to help with transport to a crematorium or cemetery


Handling the Situation If Your Dog Died at Home at Night

Losing a pet during the night adds an additional layer of complexity, as most veterinary offices and pet cemeteries are closed. In this scenario, you'll need to safely store your pet's body until you can reach out for assistance in the morning. If possible wrap your pet in a blanket or towel and place on a waterproof pad, in a ventilated space, safe from interference from other animals, to slow down the decomposition process. This is particularly crucial in warmer weather, as decomposition can start in as little as six hours, leading to an unpleasant odour.


Be aware that rigor can set in within a few hours, so you may want to arrange your pet's body in a sleeping position before this happens.


Deciding on Aftercare, Options for Your Pet's Remains

After your dog has died at home, it's important to consider the aftercare options for their remains. You can choose between burial and cremation, depending on your personal preferences, available space, and legal requirements in your area. Some owners opt for burial in a pet cemetery, offering a dedicated resting place for their pet. Others prefer cremation, allowing them to keep their pet's ashes in an urn or scatter them in a meaningful location. It is also possible to opt for cremation without the return of ashes, if you wish.


Holding Onto Memories

Losing a cherished family member is never easy, but it's essential to remember the joyful times and the love shared. Creating a memory box or a photo album can be a comforting way to honour your pet's life and keep their memory alive.


Commonly Asked Questions

What do I do immediately after my dog dies at home?

Immediately after your dog dies, contact your veterinarian for guidance on handling the remains. Consider keeping your pet's body in a cool place if you cannot get immediate assistance, especially during warmer weather.


How can I transport my dog's body if I'm unable to drive?

If you're unable to drive, ask a friend or family member for help, or reach out for professional help. It's important not to drive if you're feeling too emotional or overwhelmed.


What are the aftercare options for my dog?

Aftercare options typically include burial in a pet cemetery or cremation, with or without the return of ashes. Your choice may depend on personal preference, the pet's size, and local regulations.


How do I cope with the loss of my pet?

Coping with the loss of a pet can be challenging. Seeking support from friends, family, or a professional counsellor can help. Creating a memorial or tribute can also provide comfort during this difficult time.


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