How to Prepare for When a Pet Passes Away

In the natural course of life, a furry friend or family pet will pass away. These are thoughts that do not come to mind until the sad fact of the matter. This guide offers tips on dealing with these tragic eventualities and how to be better prepared before this happens.

Keeping cleaning items stocked

If the house was empty for some time before the passing, a clean-up might be required. Keeping bleach, baking soda, disposable gloves, masks, air fresheners, and thick garbage bags around at all times is a good idea.

The body will need to be put in some container to keep fluids from leaking on top carpets, floors, or upholstery. The sooner handled, the better. Dispose of any blankets or materials that were around the pet – it can also be used to wrap or move the pet.


Any decaying matter will attract unwanted pests such as flies, maggots, ants, and even vultures if the body is outside. It is best to put the pet’s body into a heavy-duty garbage bag or a throw-away plastic container and put it into a garage or utility shed until you have decided to either bury the pet on private property or call your vet to see if cremation services are offered.

If the pet is small, like a hamster or bird, a large ziplock bag may be enough. Keeping extra boxes on hand may be a good idea for this use specifically.

Burial process

Burying one’s pet is a tough ordeal to go through, but it provides the opportunity for closure, especially to younger kids who may need to be consoled. This provides a grieving process, but check your local laws. Many home residents may have ordinances against burying larger pets in the yard due to prevention against diseases and decaying remains mixing into the water supply.

The size of the animal may also be a factor in deciding not to bury, depending on how hard a deep enough hole is to dig for a person. If burying, remove any non-degradable material such as plastic or put pet remains into a wood box or coffin if one is available.

Cremation and associated costs

Many animal owners may want to consider putting aside money for the final resting place. Cremation may be a better option if your vet is close by or you live in an apartment. These services may be offered through vets but may have different costs depending on what you want.

Some places offer communal cremations where many animals are cremated together or private ones where you are ensured your pets’ ashes to keep. Putting ashes into a jar and setting aside a place in your house is another option. This allows you to talk to your pet and grieve in your way.

If the cost of cremation is too high, the remaining option is to have the pet disposed of. Usually, this is through the garbage pick-up. This is an unsavory option for many. Prior planning can help avoid this, but a decision has to be made to prevent the accumulation of bacteria with a decaying body.

Talking to younger kids

Think about how you should approach this issue. Some parents tell white lies about what has happened to their beloved pet, while others tell them the truth. Whatever you choose to say, it may be beneficial to allow them to ask questions and then reassure them that they can talk about how they feel about you.

It may be a good idea for parents to discuss this topic with each other before getting a pet for their children.

Don’t forget to care for yourself.

Being the responsible one can be difficult. Remember, when a pet dies, you may also need someone to talk to, and reaching out to others, particularly other pet owners who have gone through similar experiences, may be worthwhile.

Thinking ahead of time may help you when your pet does pass. Some things to think about is if you feel more comfortable adopting another pet to replace the missing place of your previous one or if it may be better to have time to grieve.