What To Do When Your Dog/Cat Dies?

pepper in repose

My daughter and I have been looking at puppies. It’s not like we need another dog. We have one. But he’s nine years old and we know his days are numbered. So my daughter asked what we would do with Pepper the day he dies. My first thought was I’d call the vet, but just like I have life insurance I should probably know how to handle my dog’s demise.

I could freeze dry my dog. Yes, there is a growing trend of pet parents freeze-drying their dogs. Your dog or cat can look pretty much like they did when they were alive. We both said “ew” and this option was crossed off the list.

I could put my dog out with the trash. I could Pepper in a black garbage bag and mark the outside of the bad with a big sticker that says, “dead dog” and put him out with my regular trash. That was met with a resounding, “No way are we putting Pepper out with the trash. And if you are wondering if this is a legit way to dispose of a deceased animal, it is. But our dog is part of the family and the thought of treating him as trash is out of the question.


I could bury him in the backyard, if I had a backyard. But I don’t have a yard. If I did, I would have to dig a three-foot deep hole, which is pretty deep. Experts also ask you bury your pet in a biodegradable container of some sort so your entire pet becomes one with the earth over time. Be sure to check your town, as some won’t allow you to bury your pet in your yard. And Jet.com offers some biodegradable containers designed specifically for pets.

I could call the Bureau of Sanitation for pick up or cremation. The Bureau of Sanitation will pick your dead pet up for free as long as your dog or cat isn’t the size of a cow or a horse. They won’t pick up those. If my dog needed hospice care it’s available in NYC. This is a city that has pretty much anything you could want so I’m not surprised hospice care is available.

I should put provisions in my will for my dog. Even though my daughter paid for our dog, Pepper is pretty much my dog. I have a will and all my other paperwork handled, but I didn’t make arrangements for the dog. My kids might fight over him and I’ve planned my will in such a way to avoid them fighting. And I need to make arrangements not only to care for him if I die, but if I’m disabled.

There are pet grief hotlines. No doubt losing a pet is devastating. I rue the day my Pepper kicks the bucket. And I know I will go out and immediately buy a puppy. But if you have trouble dealing with the loss of the family pet you can call  (877) GRIEF-10.


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