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What To Do If Dog Dies At Home At Night: 11 Steps

What To Do If Dog Dies At Home At Night

Our furry friends can cross the rainbow bridge anytime.

Even during the peaceful hours in the evening.

Now, it might be hard to get immediate help when this occurs.

So if this happens to your beloved pooch…

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you.

Keep reading to find out:

  • 11 things to do if your dog dies at home at night.
  • If it’s okay to keep them at home until the morning.
  • How to properly store their remains and choose aftercare services.
  • And many more…

What to do if dog dies at home at night: 11 steps

#1: Check their vital signs

Although this might be common sense…

You must ensure your Fido has passed away first.

Some dogs may only be in deep sleep or are unconscious at the moment.

Thus, confirm it by getting their vitals immediately.

What to do?

Check for breathing

There are many ways to do this.

For example, you can look or feel if your dog’s chest rises and falls.

But you may also:

  1. Place your hand or a piece of tissue near your dog’s nose.
  2. Hold it for 5-10 seconds.
  3. If you can feel air or the tissue moves, they’re still breathing.

Another way to check this is to::

  1. Get a small mirror.
  2. Put it close to your dog’s nose.
  3. Do this for 5-10 seconds.
  4. Check if condensation forms on the mirror.
  5. If you don’t see any, they’re not breathing.
Find their pulse
  1. Put 2 of your fingers on either of these body parts:
  • Chest (close their elbow joint).
  • The upper part of your dog’s inner thigh.
  1. Check for pulse.
  2. If you can’t detect any, they passed away.

Note: If your dog breathes or has a faint pulse, bring them to the vet or pet emergency hospital asap. As they need immediate medical attention.

#2: Ask someone for help

Losing a furry friend’s painful.

So you might be experiencing different emotions right now.

Thus, if you’re sure of their death and you’re alone, call for help. 

Do this if you think you can’t handle your dog by yourself – emotionally or physically.

#3: Clean up after your Fido

Upon death, a dog’s body relaxes.

This will happen to all their muscles.

Thus, if your Fido’s bladder and bowels aren’t empty before they pass away…

They’ll pee or poop involuntarily.

Also, they might release other fluids from their mouth or rear end.

For this reason, clean up any mess your dog makes before you handle them.

What to do?

  1. Wear latex gloves.
  2. Get a cloth or paper towel.
  3. Wipe your dog’s mouth, rear end, and genitals.
  4. Clean their pee or poop on the floor. (As well as any fluids you see.)
  5. Spray an enzymatic cleaner over spoiled surfaces to remove stains and odor thoroughly.
  6. Put their dirtied bedding or carpet away. (You can wash this later.)

After this, place a cloth or pee pad under your Fido. Specifically around their mouth and genitals.

This will help absorb any fluids they may expel as you care for other things.

Also, doing this will make cleaning up easier afterward.

Note: Ensure to do this as fast as possible so you can move on to the next steps.

#4: Put your dog in a curled-up position

If your fur baby’s legs are stretched out, fold them close to their body.

Do it the way they curl up when sleeping.

They’ll look peaceful in this position.

Plus, this will make handling their remains easier later on.

And it would be best if you do this as soon as possible.

Now, why’s that?

Based on research, a dead body will undergo ‘rigor mortis.’

It’s a stage wherein the muscles stiffen upon death due to chemical changes.

Usually, this happens within the 1st 1-6 hours.

But on average, it can occur around 2-4 hours after death.

And you may 1st spot the stiffness on their face and neck.

#5: Let other pets see/smell your departed dog

Let Other Pets Smell Your Departed Dog

Do you have other fur babies at home?

Studies found that animals like dogs also mourn over the loss of their Fido friend.

And it doesn’t matter how long they’ve spent together.

Now, how did they know this?

According to it, the surviving dogs had changes in their:

  • Eating habits.
  • Playing schedule.
  • Sleeping patterns.

The same researchers also found that emotions can affect your other pets. Especially during this grieving period.

And if this continues…

It may even lead to depression. As the signs are similar to the said condition in dogs.

For example:

  • Inactivity.
  • Oversleeping.
  • Lack of appetite.

Thus, pets need closure, too

That’s why vets suggest letting your other fur babies see or smell their deceased friend.

“How does this help?”

By doing this, they’ll understand what happened to your dog.

They have incredible senses.

So trust me. They’ll know the difference between their companion – alive and dead.

Which can help them recover from the loss.

Thus, do this instead of leaving them to notice their friend’s sudden disappearance. 

Note: You may also give the last shirt your departed Fido used to your other pets. It has your dog’s scent and can help them with grief.

#6: Leave your vet a message

You may not be able to reach your vet now since it’s beyond their operating hours.

But still, try to contact them.

If you’re undecided about the aftercare arrangements…

They may give you some advice. And help you decide which works best for you and your Fido.

Also, your vet might even recommend an excellent service around your area. May it be burial or cremation.

If so, contact them immediately. Some services might be available 24/7 and can help you handle your furry pal.

Now, if you can’t keep your dog’s body at home overnight…

Some vet offices also accept storing deceased pets’ bodies. Until their parents finalize their plans.

If your vet didn’t pick up, leave them a message. And relay them the sad news of your dog’s passing.

Note: While at it, you may call or message your friends and loved ones. Especially those who share many memories with your pooch.

#7: Say goodbye to your furry friend

Do this prior to storing your dog’s body securely. 

Or before someone picks them up. This is if you’ve already contacted a service for their aftercare.

Take this time to bid goodbye to your fur baby.

Hug them for the last time.

Say how much you love them. Then softly tell them that you might meet on the other side someday. 🙂

Also, don’t forget to feel your emotions.

It’s alright to cry if you want to, as you lost someone special in your life.

#8: Wrap their remains

Now, if it’s too late at night and you still haven’t decided what to do with your dog’s remains…

You can keep your Fido at your home until the morning.

This is completely fine. As long as you store your Fido’s body properly.

It’s because, upon death, decomposition starts right away. And this won’t look or smell nice. 

Slowly, your dog’s cells will decay.

Proteins will break down their muscle tissues.

Then as I said earlier, they’ll release bodily fluids. And this process will attract flies and other insects.

Plus, you may also notice a hint of foul odor.

Thus, if you’re driving your dog’s remains tomorrow…

Expect that it won’t be pleasant.

It’s best to keep the windows open during travel for ventilation.

Now, to prepare your Fido for this…

Here are the things you must do.

How to handle a dog’s remains

  1. Get a towel, bed sheet, or blanket. Ensure it’s big enough to wrap around your dog’s body.
  2. Bring a heavy-duty garbage bag. (Grab 2 of these if what you have’s too thin.)
  3. Wear latex gloves.
  4. Place the cloth on the floor near your Fido’s body.
  5. Using another towel, wipe any fluids that your dog released.

Now, the following steps might be a 2-person job. Especially if you have a large pooch.

Thus, if you’re alone right now, wait for help.

Then once the person you reached arrives:

  1. Transfer your Fido’s remains over the large cloth.
  2. Wrap it tightly around their body. 
  3. Get the garbage bag and slowly put your dog’s covered body inside it. 
  4. Double the plastic if it doesn’t seem secure.
  5. Close it by tying a knot or taping the garbage bag’s opening.

Note: If you’ll bring your Fido’s body to another place, put a label or tag on the bag. Write down your name and your dog’s.
You might also want to know: 5 Stages Of Dog Decomposition (How Long It Takes & Facts)

#9: Keep your dog’s body cool

Once you’re done preparing your Fido’s body…

Store them in the dry, coldest area of your house. Preferably away from other pets or animals too.

If you have a small pooch, you may keep them in a separate freezer or cooler.

But if your dog’s too large…

You can store their remains in your basement or garage.

  1. Double their plastic bag to be sure.
  2. Place them on a cardboard or large plastic container.
  3. Put some ice cubes around their body to keep them cool.

“What’s the science behind this?”

Experts say that warm or high temperatures speed up decomposition. As well as rigor mortis or stiffening of the muscles.

On the other hand…

Cold and low temperatures slow down this process. Which gives you more time to take care of things you must arrange.

However, never store your dog longer than necessary. Say more than 4-6 hours.

As the foul odor might get stronger and attract insects or animals.

Note: Bring the remains or ask the service to come early tomorrow. Nature will soon take over. So their body must be taken care of asap. 

#10: Finalize aftercare plans

If you’ve talked with your vet, decide.

Contact the service you want at night if they’re open 24/7.

But if not, look for its operating hours. Then call them early in the morning.

Now, if you still can’t choose…

Here are some things to consider:

Option #1: Cremation

There are 3 ways to do this:

Type of dog cremationDescription
PrivateCremating the body in a separate chamber.

You’ll receive your dog’s ashes.
CommunalThe remains will be mixed in 1 compartment with other animals.

You won’t get their ashes.
WitnessedThis type allows you to watch the cremation process.
  • Easy and fast.
  • Popular choice.
  • Less expensive than burial. ($50 – $250 depending on the size and type)
  • Offers more memorial options. (E.g., keeping ashes in an urn, burying it, planting a tree)
  • Frowned upon in other religions.
  • Other people find more comfort in cemeteries.

Option #2: Burial service

This is a more traditional type of saying goodbye to your Fido.

However, like cremation…

It also has benefits and drawbacks:

  • You won’t see their remains (urn) daily.
  • Presence of a physical burial site you can visit.
  • Expensive.
  • You must verify local laws first about burying animals. Or look for pet cemeteries.

#11: Bury them the next day

Lastly, if you don’t opt for cremation…

You may arrange a burial in a pet cemetery. Especially if you want a far, comfortable place to visit your Fido.

But if you wish their grave to be near your home…

You can also do this within your property.

“Wait. Is the latter legal?”

Burying pets in the backyard’s legal in most states in the US.

However, you should check your local laws first. 

Talk with your vet and homeowner’s association. 

Then ask them all the rules that you have to comply with.

Now, if you’ll do this in your backyard tomorrow:

  1. Ensure this is allowed in your area.
  2. Remove the plastic bag of your dog’s remains.
  3. Bury their body in something biodegradable. (E.g., cotton sheet or towel)
  4. Check your house plans to see if something’s buried in your chosen spot.
  5. Dig at least 2-5 ft (0.6-1.5 m) deep or as your local code states. And it must also be 100 ft (30 m) away from open water sources.
  6. Build a fence or place heavy slabs on their grave for protection.
  7. Decorate the area.