How Long it Takes for a Dead Pet Dog to Begin to Smell

The loss of a beloved pet can be a difficult time for many people. It can be further complicated by some of the realities of death, such as decomposition. But how long does it take for a dead pet dog to begin to smell?

In normal weather, a dead dog will begin to smell rotten 10 hours after death. In colder weather, it may take longer. Dog owners can wrap the dog in a bag and put it in the freezer to give themselves more time. Because the exact time of death is often unknown, it is best to act as soon as possible.

Let’s take a look at how you can deal with the decomposition of your pet dog.


The decaying process happens as the bacteria that are ever-present in a body begin to go to work, breaking down the cells that have died. Without a beating heart to bring oxygen to cells and carbon dioxide away from them, the cells in the body die quickly. The blood begins to clump together and parts of the body begin to swell. Chemicals and acids in the body will also spread quickly.

As a consequence of all of this, the body begins to release chemicals as a byproduct of its decomposition. These chemicals, mainly cadaverine and putrescine, smell horrible to humans and will quickly contaminate an area, making it smell very badly. Even after the body is removed, the smell will linger for a long time.

In order to avoid this in humans, bodies are carefully prepared with chemicals that fill the human veins and arteries and slow down the decomposition process, preventing the smells from being released. For a dog, however, there won’t be such a solution.

Though dogs begin to decompose as soon as they die, the smell won’t be noticeable until the process has reached its tenth hour. However, if the day is hot and humid, the decomposition process will be sped up dramatically, making the smell noticeable after only 4 or 5 hours. If you intend to have a burial service for your pet dog, you should plan it before the dog dies so that you are ready to act as soon as possible.

This is especially easy to do if you plan to have your dying dog euthanized. Euthanasia can spare a dying dog a lot of pain and let you and your family prepare to say goodbye to your pet. You can plan a burial service beforehand, or you can contact a service that disposes of dead animals. whichever you chose, you will have about 10 hours to get it done. (Source)

Extending the Decomposition Process

If there are members of your family that want to be at the burial service but are not there yet, or if you have another reason to delay a funeral, you will need to do everything you can to slow down the decomposition process. Failing to do so will leave you with a body that is in bad shape and that will leave a lingering smell of rotting flesh.

Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to control this process. Bacteria need temperatures that are higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit in order to live, so if it is wintertime and the temperature is always lower than that mark, you can simply leave your dog outside in order to stall the decomposition process. Be sure not to pack your dog into the snow, however, as the snow could trap heat inside.

Alternatively, you could freeze your dog in order to slow down the decaying process. If your dog is small enough, you could put it into a large plastic bag and then into a large freezer in order to cool it down enough. For larger dogs, find a large icebox or cooler that you can fill with ice in order to have a cold spot to put your dog. Once again, be sure to let your dog cool off a bit before putting it into the cooler in order to avoid trapping heat.

Keep in mind that while cooling a carcass will slow down the decomposition process dramatically, the body will still decompose. Freezing a pet can buy you a few more days in order to prepare for a funeral, but it is not going to be effective at preserving a body for extended periods of time. If you are waiting for the snow to melt before you have a burial service, you might not have much of a body left after a month or two.


All in all, if you plan on burying your dog on your own property, you should do it as soon as possible after it dies, preferably on the same day. Whether you wait for the dog to die naturally or if you euthanize your dog at home or at the vet, you should plan out where you will bury your dog and how you will do it.

You should definitely bury your dog in a casket of some kind in order to protect it and make it easier to manage. Depending on the size of your dog, this casket could be anything from a shoebox to a cardboard box to a wooden box. You can also shop for a casket online in order to find a good option.

Whatever you choose to use as a casket, be sure to seal the edges of it as much as possible in order to protect your dog’s body and to keep the smell inside. Cover the edges with strong tape as best as possible. You can also avoid having part of your backyard smell bad by burying the casket deeply in the ground. A shallow grave will cause many problems.

If you act quickly, you should be able to have a good funeral service without having to deal with a powerful smell coming from your dog. Whether you need to freeze your dog or not, you will be able to have closure on a relationship of loyalty and love.

Carolina Pieters

I'm Carolina and created this blog, to provide practical advice and emotional comfort for those dealing with pet loss.

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