In any way, losing a friend and a confidant is a challenging time. Whether it is unexpected or anticipated, chances are your beloved dog could pass away while at home. If your pet dies at the clinic or was put to sleep, the veterinarian’s office will take care of his remains for you. But when your furry friend dies at home, it’s a different situation. During this state, emotions are high, and yet you still have to take immediate steps and make decisions. It may be tough, so to help you, we have compiled the necessary things that you have to do.

Consider Your Situation When Your Dog Dies

The first thing to do is not to panic, take a deep breath, and confirm that your dog has passed away. Check for their pulse, feel their heartbeat, and listen for breathing. Your dog may just be breathing shallow and lying still. If you think your dog hasn’t passed or you still feel a slight heartbeat, do first aid and perform CPR, then take your dog to the nearest vet. You may still drive your dog to the clinic even if you think they have died at home.

Ask for Help in Handling Your Pet’s Body

It is best if you have someone to rely on during this time of grief. When everything seems so overwhelming, you can always use a helping hand for support. Ask someone you trust to aid you in the decisions you are to make, particularly on what to do and how to handle the body of your beloved friend. 

Contact Your Vet

To lift some of your burdens when your dog dies at home, contact your trusted veterinarian. If you find your deceased pet during office hours, your go-to clinic can assist you in the process, from mobile vet service that can come pick up your dog to handling the remains and crematory services, to temporary storage while you prepare for the aftercare services.

You can always reach out to your pet’s doctor if you have questions and hesitations on what to do with your dog. They likely have all the information you want to know when this unfortunate event happens at home.

How to Properly Deal With Your Dog’s Remains

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This part is the most crucial if your dog dies at home. You have to handle your beloved dog well and store him in the right manner because just like the human body, your dog’s body will also go into a decomposition state. But the difference is that your dog’s body begins to decompose immediately upon death. Unless they died dehydrated, your dog will excrete their bowels after minutes of passing away. You may want to put a cloth or plastic underneath their bodies to keep any surfaces clean.

The decomposition rate also depends on the weather and the room temperature. The hotter the environment is, the more quickly the body will start to release an unpleasant smell and attract insects. 

Within 10 minutes after your pet’s death, rigor mortis, or the stiffening of the joints, might begin. This could completely set in up to 72 hours, after which your dog’s body becomes immovable. When that happens, it becomes harder to bury the corpse. So, when you find your dog dead when you get home, you can determine the hours of his passing away through their body condition. Ideally, pets are buried before rigor mortis settles in. But if you wish to be with your pet for a couple more hours, be sure to keep them at a cold temperature.

Steps in Preparing Your Dog’s Body Before Cremation or Burial

  • Wear disposable gloves. If you have none at home, any gloves will do as long as you don’t handle your dog with bare hands. Also, if you have leather or rubber boots, wear them for additional protection.
  • Get a large blanket or towel to wrap around the dog’s body, and one or two plastic bags. Be cautious as you move your dog because they may still discharge their fluids, which is normal as all their muscles relax.
  • Spread the blanket over a flat surface, then place your dog in a sleeping position on top of it. Wrap the sheet around your pet, snuggling your dog’s body tightly with it. This way, your dog will seem like they’re in a relaxed position, which might be more comforting for you to see.
  • Place the remains in the plastic bag to be transported or buried. Close and seal the bag securely by using tape or by tying it.
  • Write your and your dog’s name on the bag to label them if you will send the remains for cremation.

Contact Your Local Council

This step is on a state-to-state basis. Some states require pet owners to notify their respective local councils within days after the knowledge of the death. However, some local councils like Idaho don’t have any jurisdictions regarding the death of dogs. Make sure you know the rules and regulations about being a pet owner in the country you live in. 

Burial of Your Dog

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If you want to bury your dog on your property, it’s important to check with your local government first if it is allowed. Some, especially in urban areas and cities, don’t allow this arrangement for sanitary purposes. You may have to bury your dog and make arrangements with your local pet cemetery. 

In localities that allow it, they will require pet owners to remove a pet’s remains from the plastic bag or any non-biodegradable material. You may also opt to put your dog in a casket made of wood or cardboard. The depth of the burial site must be at least 3 feet. You may use a grave marker or stone from Rainbow Bridge Pet Memorials to memorialize your dog. 

Grieving the Loss

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Grief and any other related emotions are normal reactions of a person who experiences loss. As a dog becomes your companion, friend, and family, it often becomes difficult to overcome and cope with the loss. It is best to express your pain than suppressing them. The grieving process is important in order to move on and accept the grave event, so that you will not be tied to the past and can reinvest on more good memories. This doesn’t mean that you will forget your beloved dog because grieving is not forgetting.

People have a different approach when it comes to mourning. It is important to understand that others may take longer and not be able to just “move on”. So, if you know someone who is in the process, be kind to them, especially children. You have to be honest and open to them about the situation, and always be by their side.

If you have other pets, you can let them can know that their friend died by letting them smell the corpse of their friend. If they do not get the chance to do this, they might wonder about their friend, which might cause them stress.

When your dog dies at home, it can be emotionally and physically distressing. There are many things you have to consider, many decisions to make, and at the same time, you need to properly handle and store your dog’s remains quickly. Calling a friend or relative is always a good idea during this time of trouble.

If you are looking for a great way to commemorate your beloved friend, check out Rainbow Bridge Pet Memorials. Rainbow Bridge Pet Memorials offer customized pet memorial stones using hand-selected river rocks, where you can choose or create your design and layout. We can convert the picture of your dog for engraving. For more information, visit our website now, and don’t hesitate to call us today at 208-253-4557 or email us at [email protected].