We perform many at-home pet euthanasia's and have discovered that about 20% of our clients prefer to bury their beloved pets. Many ask us how to do it…how deep to bury the remains, where it is acceptable, etc. Here is some information I want to pass on to you.
First things first. Where to bury your pet? The location of the grave is a personal choice and decision. If you elect to bury your pet on the property where you reside, you should be the owner of that property. Landlords and government agencies (like the forest service) frown on pet burials and grave markers on their land.Check with you local government health departments to see if is legal if their is any question. Stay away from steams , washes and wells to avoid contamination from decaying remains.
You will want to dig the hole and prepare the site before your pet is actually put to sleep. Have blanket or sheet ready to to use as a stretcher to carry a larger dog to the site. Doing this ahead of time will save you and your family some emotional distress. Obviously, do not dig over buried electrical lines, sewer or water lines because, although most of them are deeper than 4 feet deep, they may need to be dug up for repairs at some time in the future. Also, try to avoid digging near trees and foundations as roots and foundations make digging nearly impossible.
How deep should the hole be? The rule of thumb is to have at least 3 feet of dirt covering the top of the body. For a large dog, a 4 foot deep hole should suffice. Too shallow a grave will allow animals to dig up the remains and these remains are toxic to them. Also, a hole dug sufficiently deep will prevent decaying odors from escaping from the grave, not at all a pleasant experience for you, your family or your neighbors. Last, digging a hole deep enough will prevent disease from being spread from the decaying remains. Thus, the reason why human graves are dug 6 feet deep as a standard procedure.
How To Bury Your Pet
I am not a big fan of wrapping deceased pets in a plastic bag. This will only slow the natural decaying process. Instead, I prefer wrapping the pet in a small blanket, sheet or towel before gently lowering it into the pre-dug hole.
You should think about if and how you want to mark your pet’s grave. I have seen names painted on stones, crosses or on trees on personal property.
Digging a grave can be hard work. Many of my clients choose cremation with their pet’s ashes returned to them as an alternative. This allows them to keep the ashes in an urn, then scatter the ashes over one of their pet’s favorite places or bury them in a much shallower grave on their property.
Burying a Pet is a Personal Decision
There is no one right way to do this. Whatever feels best to you and your family will be the right thing to do for your pet.
But, no matter what you choose to do or how to do it, remember to celebrate the life of the pet that brought so much joy to you and your family and give them the fitting tribute they deserve.