What do I do if my pet dies at home?

Losing a pet is always difficult and it can be a shock to find your pet has passed away at home. The steps you take after discovering your pet has died need to be acted on as soon as possible. Below is a guide to offer support on what to do. 

Assess the situation 

It’s important to make sure that your pet has in fact passed away. It’s possible after they pass for natural bodily functions to continue which can cause some confusion. If you’re unsure, then the best option is to call your vet as soon as possible. 

What to do next 

If your pet has passed away, then you’ll need to move quickly to the next steps. Unfortunately, death is unpleasant, and decomposition will begin shortly after. You may find yourself in shock and extremely upset. If you can, it might be a good idea to ask someone for help. 

If you have a smaller pet and are able to do so, the best option is to wrap their body and place them somewhere cold like a fridge or freezer, until you are able to take them to the vet or your local pet crematorium. If your pet is larger, then you’ll need to wrap their body and place a plastic bag or something similar underneath them. If you have a cool place, it’s a good idea to move them there until you have arranged something with your vet or local pet crematorium. 

Next step 

It’s your choice if you would like to use your local vet or pet crematorium. Both will offer you similar options. Your veterinary practice should be able to suggest local pet crematoriums and cemeteries if you rather go directly to them. 

Veterinary Practices 

If you decide to take your pet to the vet, they’ll be able to arrange a cremation or disposal service on your behalf.  

When opting for a cremation you can request to have the ashes returned to you. Equally, your pets’ ashes can be scattered, usually in a garden of remembrance, if you don’t want them returned. 

If you would like your pet to be individually cremated, then you need to make sure that you request this as it’s not always a standard service.  

Pet Crematoriums & Cemeteries  

Most pet crematoriums offer to collect your pet from home, especially if the pet is large. You may also be able to take your pet there yourself. 

Some pet crematoriums also have cemeteries where you can choose to bury your pet if you wish. Due to laws and regulations, it’s not always possible to bury them at home. If you’d like your pet to stay close by, in an urn or keepsake for example, cremation may be the best option for you.  

What can I do with my pets’ ashes? 

Once your pets’ ashes are ready to collect, you’ll be notified. Ashes are normally returned in an urn or container known as a ‘standard return’. You can also choose to upgrade to a different urn or casket if you wish to and most pet crematoriums will be able to talk you through the options they provide. 


If you need help finding a pet crematorium, please ask your veterinary practice. You can also search for a pet crematorium in your area here. 

Suggested reading

How can I remember my pet after they die?
How do I cope with the death of my pet?
What can I do with cremated pet ashes?

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