What Do I Do When My Dog Dies at Home?
29 Jan 2011
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Question: What Do I Do When My Dog Dies at Home?
: A lot of owners, when waking to find their pet has passed, are flummoxed by grief, and within minutes, have to face the question of "what to do now". Obviously the body cannot remain in the home, and immediate burial in the backyard might not be a possible option for various reasons. Answer
Who to Call
If you wish to retain control of your dog's remains (for later burial, or cremation), your first call should be to your veterinarian's office. It's possible they may be able to send somebody out to collect the remains if you, yourself, are not capable of transport. If the vet clinic is not available to pick up remains, call your local animal control. It's more than likely they will be capable of removing the body from your home, but be sure to find out if you will still be able to control the method of disposal. If you have a pet cemetery nearby, most offer pick-up services as well as traditional burial services. If not, call a mobile friend.
In extreme circumstances (you sat most of the night with your sick dog and he expired in the wee hours of the morning, or it's a holiday, etc.), you may be faced with handling the remains yourself.
What to Do With the Body
•Clean him up. Wash around his mouth, anal and genital areas. When a dog dies, all the muscles are relaxed, which may result in a leaking of body fluids. Wash any blood or excrement off before storing the body.
•Position him if possible. If rigor mortis (stiffening) has not yet set in, position his legs so they are tucked in, like he was curled up, to prevent breakage.
•Wrap him up, in a blanket you wish to have him buried in, or any blanket you are willing to sacrifice.
•Place the blanket-wrapped body in a large plastic garbage bag, tie it tightly, and place in the freezer, to prevent further decomposition and accompanying smells.
It takes approximately six hours in 15 degree Celsius weather for a body to start to smell. The smell can quickly permeate an entire house once it starts. Hotter weather/atmosphere will speed the decomposition. Remember, you may have to store the body for any number of days until you can have it properly taken care of.