Losing a beloved pet is one of the most heart-wrenching experiences any pet parent will face. When your pet dies at home, the emotional weight can feel even heavier. Amidst your grief, it’s important to know the steps to take to ensure your pet is treated with the utmost respect and care. 

Below, you’ll learn compassionate and practical advice on what to do when your pet passes at home so you feel prepared through each step of this difficult time. 

Stay Calm

In the immediate aftermath of your pet’s passing, take a few moments to process your emotions. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, but remember, staying calm will help you make clear-headed decisions about the next steps, giving you a sense of reassurance and control. 

Confirm Your Pet Has Passed

It’s also important to confirm that your pet has indeed passed away. This knowledge will keep you informed and prepared for the next steps. It’s not uncommon for older pets to lie very still for long periods or breathe shallowly, especially if they are ill. Check for any signs of breathing or a heartbeat. If you cannot confirm whether they’ve passed, contact your vet for help. 

Handle the Body With Care

Physical changes in your pet’s body can happen soon after they pass. Their body may expel fluids as their muscles relax, so we recommend gently wrapping their body in a blanket or towel. If you need time to decide on the next steps, you can move their body to a cool place like a basement or garage to help preserve it. 

Decide on Aftercare

Next, decide whether you prefer burial or cremation for your pet. If you opt for cremation, you can choose between communal, semi-private, and truly private options, depending on whether you want your pet’s ashes back. 

You can also finalize your pet’s plans ahead of time to help you feel more prepared for the day when it comes. This way, you don’t have to make these decisions in the midst of your grief. 

Contact Your Vet or Local Pet Passages Office

If you’re undecided on aftercare, you can call your vet’s office to let them know your pet has passed. They will help guide you in some of the next steps. If you already know you want to move forward with cremation, you can also contact your local Pet Passages office for help with transportation and choosing the right cremation option for you. 

Say Goodbye

Take the time you need to say goodbye to your beloved pet. This is a crucial part of the grieving process for many people and can help you feel a sense of closure during this emotional time. 

Talk to Your Family and Friends

Inform other family members and friends about your pet’s passing, especially if they were also close to the pet. Give them the opportunity to say their goodbyes as well if they wish. 

Seek Support

Losing a pet is a deeply emotional experience. Don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or pet loss support groups, particularly in the immediate aftermath of your pet’s passing. Losing your pet at home can add an extra element of trauma to the experience, and it’s crucial to take care of yourself as you process the loss. 

Decide How to Memorialize Your Pet

Creating a memorial for your pet can also help with the grieving process. Take some time to decide how you want to keep your pet’s memory alive. This can be as simple as displaying your favorite photo of your pet in a memorial frame, getting a keepsake for their ashes, or even planting a tree in their favorite spot in the yard. 

Here for You When Your Pet Dies at Home

When your pet dies at home, the following hours can be overwhelming. Please don’t hesitate to contact your local Pet Passages for guidance and bereavement support as you move through the next steps.