Euthanasia – Burial and Other Alternatives

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015

My Dog Has Been Euthanized – What Do I Do Now?

After a pet has been put to rest, its owners undoubtedly will go through a period of great sadness and grief, which is completely normal. The grieving process can involve different stages, such as denial, bargaining, anger, sadness and, ultimately, acceptance. Most veterinary colleges, including Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Colorado State University, University of California Davis, Cornell University and University of Illinois, among many others, offer pet loss hotlines and other counseling services that people can access to get support during their struggle to accept the passing of their pets. Friends and family can also provide a tremendous amount of support during this painful time.

What Happens To My Dog’s Body?

It’s best to have a plan about what to do with a pet’s body before it is euthanized. Sometimes, for lots of understandable reasons, that doesn’t happen. Here are several options for owners to consider:

Burial. Many families decide to bury their dog, either in their yard or at a nearby pet cemetery. Local and state laws may prohibit burying animals within city limits, for public health reasons. The body of any animal euthanized using a narcotic drug should not be disposed or of used in any way that may cause it to be eaten by another animal, including other dogs or wild animals, because the euthanasia drugs can remain toxic. Burial at a pet cemetery requires initial and annual fees for burial and upkeep.

Cremation. Owners increasingly opt to cremate their pets. Most veterinarians will handle all the arrangements, including transport to and from the cremation facility and, if the owners want, return of the animal’s ashes in a memorial urn. Cremation can be done individually, where only a single animal is cremated and only its ashes are returned. It also can be done in a group, where multiple animals are cremated at the same time, so that the ashes are combined. It’s much more expensive to have a private cremation. Either way, the ashes can come back in a simple box or in a much nicer container; discuss prices and options with your veterinarian ahead of time. Ashes can be spread in the yard, along a dog’s favorite pathway or anywhere else that is meaningful. They can also be buried or saved on the mantle.

Lockets. A number of companies accessible on the internet can make lockets that contain a pet’s hair and/or ashes in a sealed wearable piece of jewelry.

Donations. Some owners elect to make donations in their dog’s memory to a rescue group, animal shelter, veterinary teaching hospital, veterinary student scholarship fund, health research foundation or some other worthy animal-related organization. This can be a very positive way to keep a pet’s memory alive.

Markers. Owners that bury or scatter the ashes of their dogs often place a memorial plaque, stone, cross or other marker at the site.

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