Figuring out how to bury a dog legally can require some research. Beyond just exploring where you can bury your dog (e.g. at home, in the backyard) or how deep you should dig your pet’s grave, it’s important to learn about the best way to prepare the body to avoid disease and any local laws regarding a proper dog burial.
All this can be frustrating to think about when you’ve lost a beloved pet. Even if it’s something that you’ve prepared for, a dog’s death is not an easy thing to deal with. Just as with loved ones who have passed on, we often want to hold a burial for our pets. As a dog owner, this is an eventuality that you need to be prepared for.
Check out our guide below to answer all your questions when wondering how to bury your pet at home, in your backyard.
Can You Bury Your Pet At Home?
If you own your own property and have a private backyard, burying your dog at home may be your best option. It is a way of always having your pet close to you, even after they have passed away. You will need to make sure it is legal to do so in your area. If you rent your home, it is also critical that you get your landlord’s permission to avoid the risk of eviction and/or litigation.
If you do choose a home burial, make sure that the grave is not too shallow, not in a flowerbed that might be dug up, or near any gas lines. Below, we’ll discuss in more detail the best way to bury your dog and a few other factors to consider.
How To Bury A Dog Legally
There may be a special place that you would like to bury your dog, such as your backyard, in a garden, the special spot in the sun he used to lay out, or next to his favorite tree. Before you can do this, you need to check with your municipality to see if it is legal to do so. The regulations for burying pets at home can vary, depending on the city, as well as the zoning areas within cities.
You will need to investigate your area’s ordinances, and you can usually find what you are looking for under “Animal Ordinances” on most city government websites. Here you will find the information you need to be able to legally bury your dog.
Please not that the burial of any pet outside of your home or a cemetery is typically illegal so don’t expect to be allowed to dig a grave in a public location. The reason behind this is primarily health risks for the community. As your dog’s body decomposes, disease and bacteria become a possibility as well as soil and water contamination.
How Deep Should You Bury A Dog?
Once you know for certain that you can bury your dog at home, in the backyard or a specific area, you can begin to prepare the grave. When digging a grave, one of the most important facts is depth. It is recommended that you dig at least 4 feet deep to ensure that the grave is not going to be dug up by animals or your children when playing. But remember, be careful not to dig the grave around gas lines, sprinkler hoses, water sources, places that flood, or other hazards.
Furthermore, as a body decomposes, it can create various health risks, especially if your pet died of a disease. The body should be contained or wrapped to lower the risk of contamination. You may want to consider a biodegradable pet casket or, if you’re on a budget, double wrapping the body in two heavy-duty plastic bags should do the trick.
Other Ways To Treat Your Pet’s Remains with Dignity
A funeral is a way of having some closure after the death of a loved one, including your pet. This is the last loving thing you will be able to do for your dog. To be able to say goodbye is important, and often, people have funerals so they are also able to view and touch (after special professional preparation) their beloved pet one last time. Ask your vet if there are any pet funeral services in the area, and if so, find out what your various options are so you can be prepared.
If you want to bury your pet but don’t own your own home, another option is to use the services of a pet cemetery. While having the discussion about the death of your dog, be sure to ask your veterinarian if there are any pet cemeteries and services in your area that she would recommend.
Another option for your dog is to have her remains cremated. After, you will have her ashes, and can choose to keep them in an urn, or even place some of the ashes inside cremation jewelry so you can always feel close to your pet.
Similarly, you can spread the ashes in the yard or bury the urn, with a marker at the grave site.
Burying A Dog In The Backyard
If you’ve decided that you wish to have a home burial for your pet, you need to make sure that you do it legally. Find out if there are any regulations in your municipality about pet burials, such as mandatory grave depths, what materials can be buried, etc. The laws regarding pet burials vary from region to region. You can get the information you need from your city or state’s Board of Health or Animal Control.