When a pet dies what do I do?

Dr Jaxon Anderson
Head of Veterinary Services
May 26, 2021

Pets are part of our families. So when it comes to saying Goodbye Good Boy (or girl), it can be a traumatic time for everyone. When a pet dies, you may have a few questions to answer, like is it better to cremate or bury your pet? And are you allowed to bury your dog or cat in the backyard? 

Whether the death of a pet was expected with old age or deteriorating health, or if their passing was sudden, the team at Goodbye Good Boy is there to support you and your most lovable family member every step of the way. 

This article explains what to do when a pet dies and what options are available to bury or cremate your dog, cat, or another companion animal.

My pet has gone to sleep, what do I do next?

If you believe your pet has died at home, check for a breath or heartbeat to be sure they are actually deceased. Some pets may lay still and breathe shallowly at the end of their life, which can seem like they have died. 

If your pet has died, either at home or a vet clinic, you will need to decide what to do next. You have a few options when it comes to what to do with your pet’s remains.

Some owners choose to bury their pet in the backyard or property, while others prefer to have their animal companion cremated so that they can keep the ashes close by. Some owners may even wish to scatter the ashes in their pet’s favourite spot. 

Alternatively, a vet can dispose of the pet’s body on your behalf. Your vet may have a preferred provider they use for aftercare services, however you have the freedom to choose any company you feel is a right fit for your needs.

Owners will need to notify the council of their dog or cat’s death as soon as practical so that their registration can be updated and a refund may be issued. 

Can I bury my dog or cat in my backyard? 

Burying a dog or cat in the backyard can be an important step in the grieving process for many people. Despite this, many people do it without considering is burying a pet at home allowed?

RSPCA Queensland advises there may be local council restrictions on pet burial on private property, including the depth of the burial, the pet’s size and types of soil. The animal welfare organisation recommends owners should check with their local council to determine if they can bury a dog or cat in their backyard. However, when we searched council websites and inquired with local government offices about pet burial regulations, it was difficult to find details about any such restrictions. 

If you decide to bury your dog or cat in the backyard, it can be an emotionally challenging experience. It can even be physically difficult to handle the body, particularly if your dog is larger. You might like to call someone you trust to help bury your dog, cat, or other pet, and to offer emotional support to you and your family.

Is it better to cremate or bury a pet?

Deciding whether to bury or cremate your furry friend is a personal choice and will generally depend on your circumstances. As with a human funeral, the ritual of a burial allows you and your family to be present in a farewell ceremony. Keeping your pet close can also provide you and your family some comfort. If you decide to bury your pet, wrap their body in a biodegradable material, like a cotton pillowcase, towel or wool rug before placing them in a hole at least one metre deep.

However, your living circumstances may mean that a backyard burial is not possible. You may not have access to suitable land, particularly if you are renting or live in an apartment or townhouse. If you are planning on moving house in the future, you may not like the idea of leaving your pet’s final resting place behind. In this case, cremating your pet means they can always remain close, regardless of where you might call home in the future. 

Goodbye Good Boy can support you by providing your pet with an individual cremation. We can collect your pet from the vet or your home and return their cremated ashes to you in a customised urn with their name on it. Our memorial boxes are a decorative way to preserve your pet’s memory anywhere that you feel would make a loving tribute. Families who have used our services tell us that these tangible tributes not only help ease their grief soon after their best mate has died, but also into the future.

If home burial or cremation are not suitable options, contact your local council to inquire about arranging disposal through their municipal waste facility. There are often costs and strict regulations associated with this, so you will need to check the requirements in your area.

Pet funerals / How to say goodbye to your pet

At Goodbye Good Boy, we believe it’s important to remember your pet for their unique character. Honouring their memory with a heartfelt farewell often helps to ease the grief of the loss. Keeping them close to home can also be a way to remain connected to your beloved family member. 

As with farewelling a beloved human, saying goodbye to your pet is an emotional and personal step towards healing. So, whether you decide on burying or cremating your pet, it is important to memorialise your little mate’s life and thank them for the joy and comfort they provided you throughout their life, in a way that feels right for you and your family.

We encourage owners to say goodbye in a way they feel best celebrates the bond they shared with their pet. That might be having friends over and watching a video compilation or a photo slideshow of memorable moments with your pet; or going for a walk along their favourite creek, reserve or walking path. Most importantly, it’s your time to memorialise and celebrate your pet’s life in a way that reflects what they loved and what they meant to you and your family. 

We would be honoured to support you in saying goodbye to your most loyal family member. To find out more, visit the Goodbye Good Boy website or give us a call on 1800 573 186.

Pet cremation services

For many owners, we treat our pets as equals in life. At Goodbye Good Boy, we take this same approach to caring for our furry family members in death. We provide the same level of care and compassion you would expect for any other family member in their end-of-life journey. Our cremation services and personalised memorial options help you and your family remember your pet for their unique character.  

At the time of need, we will provide an individual transfer from your home or vet clinic to a local cremation facility within four hours of being contacted. We guarantee your pet will receive an individual cremation. That means all pets at our facilities are cremated on their own to ensure that the remains you receive are your pet’s alone.

Once your pet is in our care, our dedicated arrangers will provide a single point of contact to guide you through the process every step of the way.

Depending on your aftercare wishes, our team will hand-deliver your pet’s ashes back to you. They arrive in a personalised memorial box with your pet’s name on it, along with a paw print and tuft of fur. We will also send you a digital portrait as a keepsake of your little mate. 

Grief support after a pet dies

We understand that the grief of losing a furry friend can often parallel the death of a human family member or friend. So take a breath and look after YOU. It can also help to reach out to a person you trust to comfort you through the emotional process of saying goodbye to your pet.

We offer our customers complimentary one-on-one grief counselling with specialist animal loss counsellors. Our counsellors specialise in adult and child grief, to ensure your family is supported.

We have written some articles on bereavement after losing a pet, including Coping with pet grief, How to support children with the loss of a pet, and Is pet grief real? which you might find useful.

Don’t wait until the very end. It’s important to consider your pet’s end-of-life journey early, so that you, your family and your pet are all supported through the process.

When the time comes, we’re here for you. Goodbye Good Boy provides a range of end-of-life services to make the difficult process of saying goodbye a little easier. 

We offer quality of life assessments from qualified vets, specialist grief counselling, at home euthanasia from dedicated end of life veterinarians, as well as cremation services and memorial options to help remember your pet for their unique character.

We are with you at every step of the journey.

To find out more, you can call our team of passionate pet lovers on 1800 953 619.