Can I Bury My Dead Pet In My Backyard?

The passing of a companion pet is utterly heartbreaking. Sadly, we have to make heavy decisions at this time, one of them being where/how/when to bury or cremate it. Several pet owners ask, “is it legal to bury my pet in the backyard,” and this article clears the clutter while educating you even more.

You’re going to learn the safeties, dangers, and common laws around the burial of your pet. Besides, we have alternatives to burial for those who may not find it as the safest or best way of disposition.

So Can I Bury My Pet In The Backyard?

Yes, you can, as long as you do it safely and comply with your local authority’s system of laws. Such laws differ significantly among various governments.

Before Burial

Upon its demise, you’re tasked with keeping your pet in good condition as you prepare to send it to its final resting place. The number of days for which you keep the pet shall depend on several factors, including your local laws.

For example, most authorities in the US often have no problem with keeping your pet in good condition for up to 48 hours before burial. However, the authorities may let you keep it even longer if you’re going to bury it in the local cemetery.

Always consult the vet if you can use their mortuary refrigerator.

If you prefer to keep the carcass inside the house for a few hours (maybe overnight) as you make minor burial preparations, you must ensure that the conditions are right. A good example is laying it on a blanket/towel placed over a waterproof sheet in a cool and dry place.

Do not struggle to keep other pets away from it; let them familiarize themselves with the fact that one of them is gone. Giving them chance for a few sniffs sounds good.

Burying It In The Backyard? Consider The Following

If you’ve made up your mind to lay your pet to rest within your backyard, the following are a few essential things to keep in mind.

The Depth

Different authorities have different takes on the minimum depth to which you should bury your pet due to health and other concerns. Nevertheless, most authorities recommend three to five feet.

The exact depth depends on various factors, like the size and shape of the animal, just to mention a few. The depth starts from the top of the animal to the ground surface.

Such depths are there to ensure that the pets do not resurface by whichever means. For example, pets buried to shallow depths can be dug up by other pets and or wild animals.

There are several health risks to both humans and animals when this happens. For pets, they may contract such diseases as the parvovirus (if the buried pet was sick).

Humans may also suffer the effects of water pollution from this, or contract such diseases as salmonellosis or toxoplasmosis.

Utility Lines

Before you dig up the grave, ensure that you consult legal authorities for information about utility lines in your yard. Doing so will help you avoid striking electric or sewage lines.

There are many cases of people finding themselves in trouble after hitting important or dangerous utility lines in their backyard.

Do I Use A Coffin Or Polythene Bag?

The best vessel you can use for burying your pet is a biodegradable box/bag. Most polythene bags are made of plastics, which do not easily decompose, therefore not recommended for pet burial.

Wood coffins are commonplace and biodegradable alternatives that you can find at cost-effective prices. Others also use carton boxes, cardboard, clothes (in which the body is wrapped), and other stuff. All in all, it needs to be biodegradable.

The Burial Spot

We understand that you’re going to bury your pet in the backyard, but where exactly do you want to lay it to rest? It’s very important to ponder over the geography of your favorite spot of burial.

For example, it’d help if you chose a raised, dry spot to keep water at bay. Water can easily expose the carcass, especially when the ground is loose, even if it’s buried several feet deep.

Also check that the fence around that spot is in good condition, so that wild animals do not invade the grave.

Various Backyard Pet Burial Laws Across Different Countries (and States)

Let’s now take a look at a few important burial laws across different countries and the United States. The rules vary significantly, so it’s important to confirm with your local state first.

In Washington, the law provides several backyard pet burial guidelines. The state doesn’t recognize fish and other aquatic animals under this law.

One important part of that law is that you must bury your pet under at least 3 feet of soil while in Washington. The soil should cover all parts of the carcass in this case. Moreover, the burial spot must also be at least 100 feet away from any surface waters. Burial must happen within 72 hours.

The Department of Natural Resources governs pet and livestock burial in Missouri. Its backyard pet burial laws are a hard nut to crack for an average homeowner. It leaves them with such options as incineration, donation for research, taking them to a licensed animal composter, and more.

In the UK, pet owners can always bury their beloved furry friends inside their homes, provided the home isn’t rented. The government dictates that you bury the carcass at least 2-3 feet deep, depending on the weight of soil around.

Most Councils in Australia have no strict rules about backyard pet burial. You must ensure that the grave is at least three feet deep, and it isn’t close to any water body.

Alternatives To Burial In The Backyard


If you can’t bury your pet in the backyard for any reason, you may consider cremation. After cremation, you can choose to bury or store the remains inside an urn.

Donation For Research

Several governments and private organizations accept deceased pet bodies for use in research on pet diseases and their treatment. Donating a dead pet will help improve the lives of the remaining ones.

Resomation (Alkaline Hydrolysis)

Also known as bio cremation; water/green cremation, and other names, resomation is a chemical decomposition process that uses lye and heat to break down dead bodies. It leaves behind bone fragments that the owner can take.

Burial At The Cemetery

You can also take your pet for burial at the pet cemetery. It’s a safe alternative that sees your pet laid to rest among its colleagues, but with a few costs, whose amount depends on your options. You’ll most likely part with between $300 and $5,000 in this case.

Final Verdict

Burying your pet in the backyard is the best way to keep it around you for memories. It’s also the least expensive disposal option. The good news is that most countries will not victimize you for it, but there are rules to follow. Always check with your local authority before burying your departed pet.

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