It is the final act of love for your pet when you allow them to pass away with dignity. You will certainly have thought deeply about the euthanasia of your dog, but what happens afterwards?

When your dog has passed away you may feel distressed and upset. 

The veterinary team are there to help you at this time. They will be on hand to explain the options available to you regarding the cremation or burial of your deceased companion. However, because this time can be emotional for you it might be helpful if you have given some thought to what you may like to do for your pet after euthanasia.

You may wish to take your dog home for burial. 

If this is your choice, you may find it helpful to come prepared with blankets or towels together with some form of waterproof lining to protect your car. This is necessary as your dog will have lost bladder and bowel control. There could be some leakage of body fluids on the journey home. Many people find this upsetting, especially if they are not prepared or expecting it. 

You may wish to bury your dog in a special casket. 

These are available for pets. They can range from eco-friendly biodegradable caskets in materials such as cardboard right up to elaborate wooden caskets. Many owners choose to wrap their dog in a favourite blanket prior to burial. This is also a reasonable option if you do not wish to purchase a special pet casket.

You should aim to bury your pet at a depth of around three feet below the ground. This will help to prevent wild animals such as foxes digging up the grave; some paving stones above the grave will also help prevent damage by wildlife if these are available for you to use. Digging several feet deep into the ground is often difficult. So do make sure that you will be able to do this yourself or have somebody willing to help. 

Many people like to plant a special tree or perennial shrub in memory of their canine companion. Some may even have a small gravestone or other type of marker for the burial place. This can provide a permanent place in which to remember your dog and all the happy times you enjoyed together.

Not everyone wants to take their dog home

If you do not wish to take your dog home for burial you might prefer to have them cremated. This can usually be organised by your veterinary practice. The loss of body fluids after death is completely normal. So if you have not chosen to take your pet home for burial the body will be placed inside an individual bag by members of the veterinary team. 

This can be upsetting for some owners to see. But it is important since it allows your dog to be handled hygienically and safely during storage and transport to the crematorium. All pets are placed individually in their own bag which is colour coded and labelled to allow easy identification of your pet. It also provides information about what type of cremation you have chosen. Your pet will be handled with respect throughout. And will be placed in cold storage while awaiting transport to the crematorium.

Before the practice team members remove your dog from the room in which you are in, you might wish to ask them to take hair clippings, paw prints or casts of their paws. Many owners also request that their pet’s collar is removed as a keepsake at this time. 

If you wish, a special toy or blanket can be placed inside the bag with your dog to go along with them to the crematorium.

There are two main options for cremation. 

You may choose a special individual cremation or a routine cremation. So what is the difference?

A routine cremation is a less expensive option 

However, you will not receive your pet’s ashes from the crematorium afterwards. This is because more than one pet will be cremated at a time and your pet’s ashes will be mixed with others. Your pet will be handled respectfully during this process. Their ashes will be scattered on the grounds of the crematorium together with those of other animals.

An individual cremation is the option you should choose if you wish to have your pet’s ashes returned to you. 

Special procedures are undertaken at the crematorium to ensure that your pet’s ashes are returned to you without any mixing of ashes from other animals. This means that this type of cremation is a little more expensive than a routine one. 

You may choose the type of container in which your pets ashes are placed following  an individual cremation. Options include simple scattering containers so that you can scatter the ashes in your garden; or you may choose an elaborate ornamental urn to keep in your home or garden. Your veterinary practice will be able to provide details of the containers which are available.

So are there any other options?

Some pet crematoriums can offer a full memorial service in honour of your deceased dog. Burial on the crematorium grounds can often be arranged or cremation with storage of the ashes at the crematorium may be offered. If any of these options could be right for you check what options are available at the local pet crematorium. Your veterinary practice will usually have all the information and be able to help with any necessary arrangements.

More unusual options following individual cremation include sending your dog’s ashes away to companies which create beautiful works of art or jewellery with the ashes incorporated into them. You can even have the carbon extracted from your dog’s ashes to be turned into a diamond and placed in the setting of your choice to keep forever.

Whatever your options following your dog’s euthanasia please do remember that it is not unusual to feel deep sorrow at this time. Help is available in the form of counselling if you are finding it difficult to cope with the loss of your companion so please do seek help. Your local veterinary practice may be able to provide contact details for pet bereavement counselling should this be something you feel may be beneficial to you.

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