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Can I Dig Up My Dead Dog? (Is It Illegal to Bury?)

Can I Dig Up My Dead Dog? (Is It Illegal to Bury?)

Dealing with the death of one’s pet can be saddening. However, ensuring your dead dog is properly buried is crucial for the safety of yourself and your environment. People often wonder if it is right to dig up a dead dog because of reasons known to them. Most of the time, it could be because of safety reasons. 

Apart from burying dead dogs, people sometimes try to freeze or cremate them. You might want to encase them in a biodegradable coffin made of cardboard, wood, or a towel to keep the flesh away from animals and bury it far enough to keep them out of reach.

Regardless if you want to dig up your dog to bury it somewhere safe or you plan to follow a more healthy burial process, this article explains all you need to know before digging up your dog. 

Can I Dig Up My Dead Dog?

Being able to dig up the remains of dogs has been a trending question among pet owners. Yes, you can always dig up your dead dog without any cause for alarm at any given time. However, you need to ensure safety precautions while doing so.

You can dig up your dog if you want to bury it somewhere safe. However, you shouldn’t expect to see your dog as it was when you buried it. If you choose to dig up your dead dog after it has been buried and you want to cremate it, you will only find its bones.

After your dog passes away, you must make appropriate burial arrangements. To ensure your pet is secure under the ground for a long time, you need a proper burial.

While you must not delay in burying your dead dog, you need to ensure a safe burial to avoid the need to dig it up later. However, You can dig up your dog if you have a good reason. 

What Should I Do With My Dead Dog? 

When a veterinarian pronounces your dog dead, you must bury it within 5 to 6 hours. Otherwise, the body will begin to smell. The smell will only worsen over time. Therefore, you must either figure out a means to freeze it or bury it as quickly as you can.

For dog owners that would like to honor their dog, you can organize a funeral. However, ensure you do so early enough.

The right thing to do when a dog dies is to bury it. You will need to dig a hole so the dog can be buried. Before setting up dead dog disposal, you might want to leave your pet home for a few hours.

In this case, make sure the body is kept in a cool room for no more than 24 hours. Be warned that after three to four hours, rigor mortis—the stiffening of joints after death—will start to occur. 

You need to be safety conscious around your dog. Wear gloves while handling the dog’s body, and carefully clean any surface the animal touched and any fluids that may have been spilled. In the early aftermath, it’s critical to prevent the transmission of germs. You don’t have to handle the remains of your dead dog on your own, your veteran can be of help.

Is it Illegal to Bury a Dog in the Garden? 

The law doesn’t forbid burying a dog on one’s personal property. You must ensure that the dog doesn’t risk environmental sanitation. It is, therefore, strongly suggested to properly bury the dog to avoid further investigations from law enforcement agencies. Once sanitation standards are followed you have no cause for alarm, burying of dogs is completely legal in the US.

Most dog owners prefer to bury their deceased pets in their gardens because they feel it is safe and far from scavengers and wild animals that might try to dig up the grave after their beloved pet has been laid to rest. Also, people prefer to bury their dead dogs in their gardens to feel connected. 

Also, it can endanger other animals who can smell the chemicals that the dead dog releases as they deteriorate. It is not illegal to bury your dead dog in your garden. 

While the law forbids it in some states, it is not generally binding in other states. If you must bury your dog in your garden, ensure the area where the animal is interred must belong to you and not be rented. Pets shouldn’t be interred close to water sources. The pet’s remains cannot pose a threat to public health.


Will a Buried Dog Smell? 

The euthanasia procedures used on a dead dog can remain in a dog’s body even after a year that it died. A buried dog can give a decaying smell if not properly buried deep into the ground. This smell can be really pungent and sometimes toxic. Although some hybrid species might not follow this trend. But, a good percent of buried dogs do smell.

The odor does not simply go. A decomposing body that has been buried might continue to smell for years before it starts to diminish. So, if you dig early, you should expect a terrible smell.

When a dog is not properly buried in the ground, other animals may quickly smell the powerful gas and stench being released by the deceased animal as it starts to degrade. The stench will quickly spread everywhere when the grave is not deep enough.

Therefore, it is advisable to bury any animal at a depth of at least 2-3 feet. Before burying them, you can also cover them with a blanket or place them in a box to prevent the smell from escaping.

Finally, ensuring the hole is deep enough will stop any virus from spreading from the decomposing remains.  

Why You Shouldn’t Bury Your Pet in the Backyard? 

There are several reasons why you shouldn’t bury your pet in the background. It is not because it is illegal to do so, but due to safety reasons. Considering the safety of other pets in the house, burying your pet in the backyard is not a reliable option. It can be environmentally hazardous and toxic to the soil topography.

Many people consider burying their pet in the backyard, but a backyard burial isn’t always the safest or most reliable option because; 

1. Animals Can Remove Them

Other animals can smell the dead pet’s deteriorating body even if you can’t. Wolves, foxes, and wild dogs occasionally excavate dead animals and eat them. That is not something you would want to occur to the pet you recently lost and buried. 

Most dogs are injected with euthanasia. However, the Pentobarbital inside the euthanasia lingers in the pet’s buried body for up to a year. Other animals can smell the euthanasia and dig up the dead body. The consequence is that the euthanasia solution will poison any animal that consumes the carcasses as food.

2. It’s Terrifying

Dealing with the loss of a dog can be horrifying. It’s likely that you’re not the only person who lost a dog. If there are other dogs and cats living there, they are also in grief. Burying a dog in your backyard can be terrifying, especially if you have other pets in the house. 

3. Risky For Other Pets at Home

For the safety of other dogs in your home, it is advisable to avoid burying your dog in the backyard if they pass away from an infectious condition such as the flu or another. Living pets may still be at risk from the dead pet’s germs and infections. 

Furthermore, if you bury a dog that was injected euthanasia and other dogs dig out and eat the dead dog, it may leave them gravely ill or kill them.

How to Keep Wild Animals from Digging Up Buried Pets? 

Wild animals will keep disturbing the area you buried your dog if it is not properly secured. Protecting the grave with a fence or repellents will keep the wild animals away. Also, burying pets four or five feet underground can be helpful. This has been proven to work along with other safety tips

You can keep obnoxious wild animals from digging up buried pets in various ways. Below are a few tips:

1. Dig deep underground

Animals can dig and burrow the ground and curved surfaces. This makes it easy for them to dig up your buried pet and carcass. However, by burying your dog deep underground, I’ll make it difficult for wild animals, as they’ll not be able to dig up deep lengths. This I’ll ensure maximum prevention.

2. Utilize proper fencing cast

You should install a high fence that is above the ground, three or feet high. Use animal deterrents such as fences, if you don’t have a modern erect fence you can use a wooden one.

3. Use of sprays and repellents

Spray repellents around the tomb to deter other animals. Repellent granules and sprays can prevent animals like foxes from digging up the hole.

How Long Does it Take for a Buried Dog to Decompose?  

It takes a while for a dog to decompose after burial. There are ways you can fasten and slow the decomposition process. It could take 6 months to 18 years for the dog’s decomposition to be finished if it is buried deep in the ground.

The buried dog will start decomposing within the first six months. Sometimes it could take more time than expected. Ranging from 18-20 years for the dog’s decomposition to be finished if it is buried deep in the ground. However, the dog’s body will decay more quickly if it is buried closer to the surface. 

Enclosing a dead dog in a plastic bag will slow the natural decomposition process. Instead, you should wrap your dead dog in a tiny blanket, sheet, or towel before lowering the pet into an already-dig hole to fasten the decomposition process.


You can dig up a dead dog if you feel there is a need to change the spot it was buried. However, you should prepare yourself for the terrible smell. Ensure that you follow safety guidelines before digging up a dead dog — a hand glove will do.