Bereavement: A Final Resting Place

Try to plan ahead as much as possible, as it can be too traumatic to make informed decisions when you are in the initial shock stages after the death. If you have warning that your dog’s death may be imminent, then discuss the options available with your vet beforehand. How to dispose of the deceased pet is a very personal decision. Some people feel that the dog’s remains are merely an empty shell since the ‘essence’ or life of the dog has departed and can therefore simply be disposed of by the vet, whilst others may want to keep the dog close to them by burying the body in their own garden, or by arranging an individual cremation and keeping the ashes.

Burial

Your dog’s remains can be buried in your own garden or in a pet cemetery. 

If you choose to bury your pet’s body in your garden, then you should check with your local authority that they have no objections. The body will have to be buried at least 1.25m deep and should be well away from ponds, streams, wells, underground pipes and cables. Perhaps bury your pet in a towel or his favourite blanket and avoid plastic. Home burial is one of the cheapest and most personal ways of disposing of your dog’s body, as you have to perform the task yourself.

If you would like to have your pet buried and are unable to do so at home, then an alternative is a pet cemetery. Although the most expensive option, they can offer a complete service, from collecting your pet’s body to preparing the grave and performing the burial. They may also sell coffins and memorial stones; some can also arrange a simple funeral or memorial service at the time of burial. This is a much more formal way of disposing of your dog’s remains, with the benefit of still being able to visit the grave even if you move house. The costs of using a pet cemetery vary (€500+) and there could be an annual maintenance charge to pay.

Cremation

The cremation of pets is becoming increasingly popular as a method of disposal as it is a practical, hygienic and dignified process.

If you have left your dog’s body to be disposed of by your vet then communal cremation is commonly used. The combined ashes are usually buried within the crematorium grounds. This is a simple and inexpensive method of disposal and is particularly suited to those who do not attach any significance or importance to the body after death.

If you would like to keep your dog’s ashes, then you will need to arrange an individual cremation, either through your vet or directly with a crematorium. This will be more expensive than the communal method (€150 - €350) but, as with cemeteries, a full range of services may be offered. The body should be collected and the ashes returned to you as arranged, along with a certificate guaranteeing that the ashes contained are those solely of your pet. You may choose to keep the ashes, although many owners like to scatter them over the dog’s favourite spot in the garden or over part of his favourite walk.

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