Who You Should Call After a Pet Dies, and Why

The time after a pet dies can be painful, stressful, and confusing. One of the last things an owner wants to worry about is remembering who needs to be notified, but it is an important part of the process.

After a pet dies, the owner should call or notify a veterinarian or animal control to cancel chips, future appointments, and fees. The vet or animal control can help arrange cremation or disposal of the body. The owner should also contact someone who can provide emotional support.

There are some logistics that need to be worked through, but there are also support systems in place. For more information on who to call and what to say, keep reading below.

Calling the Vet

If you weren’t already at the veterinarian’s office when the pet died, you should make it a priority to notify them. In addition to canceling future appointments, they can help you cancel your pet’s ID chip if they had one, notify the local government so there is no charge for a license or missed rabies vaccination, and they can help you appropriately dispose of your pet’s remains. If you worked with an animal rescue, they can do many of the same things.

Your veterinarian will have extensive experience in this area, and they can offer you functional support that few others would be able to match. They will know who exactly needs to be called in your area, how exactly your pet can be buried, and can even confirm that your pet is dead if it died at home.

That last bit is important since it can be hard to tell if some species have died. If your pet hamster looks dead, for example, the vet can confirm it is actually dead and not just hibernating. Having a vet check can help reduce your anxiety!

Canceling Other Services

These services generally don’t need to be notified immediately. The only exception is when you have a service coming up within the next few days.

Do you have a set groomer? What about a dog walker, a pet nanny, or a daycare service? Any of these services that have pre-set appointments will need to be informed so they can cancel, and so they won’t send you reminders for future appointments in the mail.

If the service providers were particularly attached to your dog, like in the case of a pet nanny or daycare, they may be able to offer some support by grieving with you. While this can be hard, sharing emotions and talking about good memories will be good for you. It helps to know that you have support.

Services like subscription boxes or pet food deliveries will also need to be canceled, but this is often done over the internet and doesn’t require a phone call. Hopefully, that will make it a little easier to prepare for.

Making Arrangements for the Body

In an ideal situation, you will already know what’s going to happen with your pet’s body before they die. If this is the case, you can make the appropriate phone calls now so the body can be buried, cremated, or left with the vet, according to local laws and your specific situation.

However, situations cannot always be ideal, and sometimes pets will die before arrangements can be made. In those cases, calling your veterinarian or a local animal shelter can help again. These people can help you make arrangements for cremation of the remains, and you can either have them returned to you or leave them with the vet.

Either way, the vet can walk you through options, costs, legal procedures for the disposal of remains, and handle the actual logistics of much of this process. You’ll be grateful to have them on call.

Cremation, Returned or Not

Although it may seem strange to some people, this is becoming the norm in many areas of the world. Cremation is required by law in some states, and in other states, it is a good solution when people are renting their homes or apartments.

Cremation of remains is the typical default when you choose to leave your pet’s body with the vet. You can also choose to have the remains returned to you, for a slightly higher price, and then you can scatter the ashes or keep them in a memorial of your choosing.

Burial on Private Property

While this is the traditional route that many people are used to, or have seen in movies or TV, it is increasingly complicated in modern life. Some states, like California, do not permit the burial of a pet in your backyard. For many other people, they just don’t have land to bury their pets on.

Be sure to follow local laws, and make the grave deep enough that it won’t be disturbed by other animals.

Pet Cemeteries

Yes, these exist, and no, they’re not like the Stephen King novel. Pet Cemeteries are beautiful memorial sites that could be a great choice for you and your pet’s memories, especially if you’ll want to come to visit their grave.

These sites usually require a reservation in advance, and some still require cremation, but they give the opportunity for a sweet memorial that can be appreciated by pet lovers for years to come.

Telling Others Who Knew the Pet

This is an important thing to consider when you have other people living in your home. Notifying them before they have to ask questions can help you avoid painful conversations later, and they can give more personal support than a vet or service provider.

If your pet was known by neighbors, especially children, a text or a call to the parents in the household can be a good idea. No child would want to pain you on purpose, but that can be the accidental side effect of their request to play with the dog you’ve just buried.

Getting Support

When telling people you’ve just lost a pet, expect grief. Some people might feel numb, some might cry so much that they can’t make calls right away, and some people might feel alright for a while. Everyone grieves differently.

This is also why calling for support is so important. You may not be able to make phone calls for a while, or emotions could hit at an unexpected time. Having a support system available to contact is going to help you. Remember, the people that loved you and your pet are still there.

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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