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Jenna Stregowski, RVT

What If Your Dog Dies At Home?

By May 17, 2011

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This is not a topic any of us wants to discuss. While writing about this today, I heard that actress Jennifer Aniston's corgi/terrier mix died recently. At age 15, she felt it was his time. I am not sure whether or not he died at home, but it's a reminder that it can happen to any of us pet owners. (My condolences to Ms. Aniston, by the way.)

If you are a dog owner, it is important to understand that your dog might pass away at home. Even more, it's a good idea to know what to do about it, especially if your dog is a senior. My own aging dog sleeps so deeply these days that I often find myself checking to see if she is breathing. Though I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to let her go, I can only hope that she goes that peacefully when the time comes.

The details might be hard to read (trust me, they were hard to write), but I have put together these guidelines discussing the practical steps to take if your dog dies at home (like handing the body). In truth, it's probably a good idea to know what to do before this happens to you. After all, who is in the right frame of mind to be searching the internet immediately after the death of a beloved pet?

On the subject of preparing yourself for the death of a pet, it is also a pretty good idea to think about aftercare before your pet dies. It may seem a bit morbid, but familiarizing yourself now with aftercare options like pet cremation and pet burial will make the choice easier later on. Some companies even offer advance packages, if that's the kind of thing you prefer. I suppose it's not a bad idea, but I can't help thinking I'd be tempting fate (call me superstitious).


May 18, 2011 at 10:10 am
(1) Maureen says:

Pepper (my cocker spaniel) was very, very sick. She had been at the specialist’s facility for a week. They sent her home because she was really depressed. When she threw a blood clot, the scream was horrifying. We went to bed about 10, my arm around her. I woke at midnight and it was clear she had passed away. It was OK. There was no turning around her illness. I wrapped her in a large towel and placed her on the sofa. First thing the next morning, I brought her to the vet. They waived the euthanasia charge.

Ten years later and I still miss her.

May 18, 2011 at 10:15 am
(2) Maureen says:

I didn’t mean euthanasia charge – no need for that. I meant the cremation charge.

May 18, 2011 at 10:19 am
(3) Christy says:

Grew up on a farm and buried the pets in our farm pet cemetery. Now live with a back yard we bury all our pets in the backyard.

Sixpence was a good size dog and when he died two of our neighbors came and helped dig his grave. We all took turns and cried as we shoveled and talked about this beloved, beautiful mutt with a great personality. Now when we get together we still talk about that day and we feel his presence with us

May 18, 2011 at 10:53 am
(4) Kurt says:

All I can say is that even though it’s been over 5 years I don’t skip to many days without thinking about Mr tibbs our Schnauzer. What a sport he was.. our son. We had Mr Tibbs cremated, a bit costly but we will have him regardless of our location.. he got cancer and went down hill quite fast even in human years… I can tell you not all dogs are man’s best friends, but Mr Tibbs, he was certaily mine!.

May 18, 2011 at 10:57 am
(5) Kurt says:

Oops…. Sorry Christy… should have had addresed it to Jenna….. but It’s nice that you had such a warm burial

May 18, 2011 at 10:50 am
(6) Christi says:

I have a 16 year old dog and like mentioned in article, I am always checking to see if she is breathing. Thank you for posting this information. I had no idea what to do and after reading this article I probably would have done everything wrong!

May 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm
(7) Connie says:

Four years ago my husband had to out of town when I had to put down our 15 yr old, Chester, shepard/golden retreiver mix. My brother-in-law drove took us to the vet. The vet kindley asked how we were going to dispose of the body, I told him our neighbor said we could bury him in her back yard where her beloved pets rest. Our vet did not charge for the procedure and called the next day to make sure I was ok. Whenever we go to the back yard we always say “hi” to Chester, we can still feel his presence.

May 19, 2011 at 1:41 am
(8) Doris says:

Thank you, Jenna, for this important information! I know this is gruesome, but while reading your article, I was also thinking that people should learn how to determine whether the dog has died. Or maybe a professional is needed to make that determination.

I once had a very old hamster who I thought was dead, and as I held him in my hands and cried, I thought I noticed him move. It was a cold winter night, so I wrapped him in a towel and placed him on a hot water bottle, and he sprung back to life! The cold may have been too much for his weak little body, and maybe if I hadn’t warmed him up he would have died during the night. He did pass away a few days later, but I’m so, so glad I did not bury him alive that night!

May 19, 2011 at 4:05 pm
(9) Jenna - Dogs Guide says:

Good point, Doris – as gruesome as it is, it would be helpful to know how to determine death in case a professional is not available. I’ll work on that.

May 19, 2011 at 9:28 am
(10) sherri says:

Hello everyone..I too lost a pet, Milo, a golden retriever(was 12 yrs old). He passed 12-23-08. Living in the midwest the weather was ice,snow and winds blowing snow drifts on that day. Like Kurt, we decided to get him cremated. I’m so glad we did. Yes a tad costly, but well worth it. He’s always with us. I have Milo’s sister (Lady-a mutt) getting years on her now too (12 1/2yrs). This past April she had a slight stroke on us, so I’m sure unfortunately her days are getting numbered. We have talked and have decided when the ultimate day comes we will also cremate her to have our ‘kids’ together once again with us. I am so very greatful to have this option during such a sad time.

May 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm
(11) mike says:

my rotti is 10 yrs and is slowly dying the hips are going going blind and my other dog is aussie he is 3 yrs and the rotti is his babysitter she watches like him like a hawk when we walk down the street she will grab the leash and drag him away my problem is this the aussie has been with rotti since he was a puppy the last time i had problem with corgi he passed and rotti didnt know where is was and i got aussie quick in a hurry keep in her line she didnt want anything to do with him until i brought the rotti in house and this about 2 weeks had passed told her that corgi will be coming home he passed or went petco heaven and she just snapped right out of it ever since they have been greatest of pals my problem is this what do with aussie he has been with her since he was a puppy and by the way i am training to be a dog trainer from being about dog behavior so i will learn just watching

May 25, 2011 at 5:52 am

i had a german sheperd x rotti ,,,found on side of road as a pup ,,, i had her for 15 years ,,,she passed away 2 years now and i still miss her ,,,,we have burried her in the garden beside the bush she used to lie near ,,,and have a cross put up to mark her life ,,,,the kids wer devestated wen she died ,,,,but are getting over it slowly ,, my youngest at 10 still goes out and sits at cross and talks to her ,,,

May 28, 2011 at 8:41 pm
(13) Debbie says:

We lost two of our precious furbabies in 2010. I ca came downstairs( 2/18/10 to get ready for work. I found our precious furbaby girl (part Pomeranian part ?)had passedaway during the night on our kitchen floor. She was 16 years old. Then 9/19/10 (7 months and 2 days later) I can down stairs to get ready for work and found our baby boy 10 years old (Pitbull)had passedaway on the kitchen but on the otherside. We think he dies from a broken heart. He thought that our other furbaby was his mommy. Our furbaby girl was 6 years old when our son furbaby boy into the house. I miss both of them very much. Furbaby girl was cremated and my hubby buried furbaby boy in the backyard.

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