Updated: Jul 8, 2020
My dog died at home; What should I do? Experiencing the loss of a beloved pet is stressful enough. Navigating the aftercare experience can be difficult, especially if you are in charge of making all of the tough decisions. These five steps will help make the process easier.
Step 1: Stay Calm and Evaluate Your Pet
The first step is to make sure your pet has passed away. Although this may seem obvious to some, it is common for a family to believe their pet has passed when the pet is still in the process of passing. Feel for a heartbeat. Place your hand on the chest of your pet underneath their armpit. You may feel a faint beating or pulsing. Also, look for subtle and shallow breathing. You may notice that your pet's breath has slowed and has become so subtle you can barely see it.
If you are confident your pet has passed, please call a local pet aftercare facility. For more information on pet aftercare options, please read this article.
If your pet's vital signs are still present, you may choose to remain with your pet at home as they pass at home or call a local veterinary hospital.
Step 2: Call For Assistance
Coping with emotional stress when a pet passes can be very isolating. Call a family member or friend for help. This person can be there for you to lean on while you make the next appropriate steps for your pet's aftercare. If you are afraid that you will not be able to lift your pet or emotionally handle their body physically, this person will be there to assist you in any way you need. Help from family or friends is critical during these times.
Step 3: Making a Decision for Aftercare
There are many options available for pets after they pass. Water-based cremation, fire-based cremation, and burial are the most common options when deciding what to do with a deceased pet. To read more about your options, click here. Do not rush your decision about aftercare. There are many options available. Educate yourself on the various options before deciding. Remember, the decision you make for aftercare is irreversible. It is important to make the right choice.
Step 4: Handling the Body
Once you have the emotional support from a loved one and have decided the right aftercare option, it is time to prepare for your final goodbyes. If an aftercare company is coming to pick up your pet, you can wrap your pet in a blanket or towel until they arrive. If you wish to move your pet to a different location, be sure you have help. For more information on handling a deceased pet, please read the following post.
Step 5: Collect Mementos
Before a pet aftercare company comes to your home, be sure to collect any final mementos from your pet. Be sure to remove their collar and name tags; these are sentimental pieces you wouldn't want to lose.
You may also want to obtain a lock of fur. Many people like to make ink paw prints. All of these items are important in maintaining the beloved memory of your pet. For more ideas on memorializing your pet, please read the following post.