What To Do At The Time Of Death Of Your Pet

Sweetie Pie for What To Do At The Time Of Death Of Your Pet

Sometimes we know that a pet is dying, suffering, or its time had come. They may need to be taken out of their pain, and look to you to help them no longer suffer. We can prepare ourselves. We are usually at the vet’s office and they can guide us.

But what if death happens suddenly? An unknown illness. A car accident? We can be in such shock that we have no idea what to do. We may be alone with no support.

Having a plan of action ahead of time can go a long way in handling the situation. This is not a pleasant list. But needed. So if (god forbid) this happens to you, you can handle it.

When the inevitable happens. What to do? Sudden death guidelines (specifically for pets).


  • Have phone numbers readily handy. Vet, emergency vet, friends, neighbors. You might be in such shock you need to call a neighbor to lead you.
  • Think of how you are going to want to handle your pet’s death now. Now is the time to think of cremation or burial, or (and this is absolutely o.k.) just to have them taken away. This is the time when you are level headed and can think of the banal such as money, is it legal to bury in your area, even how you feel about the soul-body connection.

When it happens:

  • Don’t panic. Stay calm if you can. Center yourself and breathe.
  • Call a friend. Having support is such a valuable thing. Let them help you.
  • Breathe.
  • Take this last moment to connect with your pet. It is o.k. to touch them, to pet them, even after ‘they’ are gone.
  • If it is in the day call your vet, who will know of a cremation company in your area (if you wish to cremate). At night, or on weekends, your emergency vet will have this information. The reason I suggest calling and not having this information in advance is that your vet will have the most up to date information, so you won’t be calling around in a panic if a number is outdated, etc.
  • Everyone’s comfort level is different. You can have a friend take in your pet, have the cremation company do a pick up, or handle it yourself. You do want to do this rather quickly, but you don’t need to rush. 
  • If you have no connection to the body after the spirit has left, you can call either Animal Services, or the Department of Sanitation for pick up. (You will need to check with your local services, as this can vary by location)
  • If your pet has died away from your home and has been picked up by the city, if he or she has been microchipped (in Los Angeles, please check with your local services), you may be notified, or can call animal services and will be able to get that information. You may not be able to get the body back. (so please keep your pets as safe as possible, but do not blame yourself it you couldn’t. (See this entry: Carrying Guilt)

The death of a pet can be scary. The shock can leave us numb and confused. A little bit of preparation can go a long way to being able to handle it best.

Take care, 

This article may be reprinted by permission only.

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