The loss of a beloved dog is never easy. Planning your faithful companion's final arrangements can be painful. Giving your dog's burial some consideration ahead of time allows you to lay him to rest and honor him in a meaningful way while giving you and your family the closure you need.
The Legalities of Dog Deaths
Prior to making burial plans for your dog, check with your local authorities to ensure it is legal to bury your precious pooch at home. Laws vary widely; no restrictions exist in some areas, burying pets at home is forbidden in others. Many of the laws are vague -- if not unenforced -- so it's best to contact your local authorities to ensure you fully understand your municipality's rules before deciding where you will bury your dog.
The Backyard Burial
Burying your dog at home allows you to keep him close, offers the ability to decorate or memorialize the grave any way you wish, and is usually the most cost-effective option. Prior to burying your dog at home, make sure the location you choose is far enough removed from underground water sources to prevent contamination. Ensure that no underground utilities run through the grave site. Wrap your dog in a biodegradable sheet or blanket and choose a suitable coffin. Burial containers can be as simple as a crate, a wooden chest, a barrel, a wicker basket or a cardboard box -- or as elaborate as a commercially available pet coffin. Dig at least 36 inches deep to prevent excavation of the site by scavengers, and go even deeper if you wish to plant a tree in his honor atop the grave site. The burial plot will settle over time and will need additional dirt to completely fill in the grave. You can mark the grave with a marker if you choose.
The Pet Cemetery
If you don't have a suitable location at home, or if you don't own or live in a home with a yard, you can bury your dog at a pet cemetery. Prices for a burial at a pet cemetery will vary, but you will have the peace of mind of knowing your dog's final resting place will be maintained in perpetuity. Pet cemeteries offer a wide variety of services including pickup of your dog from your home or veterinarian's office, an on-site chapel for viewing and memorial services, pre-viewing grooming, assistance with the memorial service and grief support.
His Favorite Park
If your dog had a favorite park in which to romp and play, and you would like to bury him there, make sure to check with your local authorities to ensure it is legal to do so. Some locales have laws prohibiting the burial of pets in public places, and some require a permit to do so. Never attempt to bury your dog on someone else's property without the permission of the owner.
If you are worried about the cost of a formal burial for your dog, many pet insurance companies offer plans including burial benefits. If you wish to handle the details yourself, try to consider your burial plans for your dog before you're engulfed in the emotional turmoil of the event. If you'll bury your dog yourself, have the appropriate tools available, and enlist the help of a trusted friend. It can be laborious to dig an ample grave for your dog, and it is easier to share the task. Choose a location that makes you feel happy, so your visits with your beloved dog evoke positive feelings.
Alternatives to Burial
Cremation of your pet is available through veterinary offices and pet cemeteries. Your pet's cremated remains are returned to you in an urn or box, and you can purchase fancier decorative urns if you choose to display his ashes. Depending upon local regulations, you may be able to scatter his ashes in a favorite place. One very creative dog owner had her dog's ashes mixed into her tattoo ink, ensuring that part of him was always with her. If your dog needs to be euthanized by a veterinarian, he will normally offer disposal of your pet's body if you don't wish to bury or cremate his remains.