Can You Bury A Pet In Your Backyard?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

The death of a pet is akin to a loved one within your family passing away. Closure is a natural part of the grieving process, and dealing with your pet’s remains is one of the most important parts of getting closure. So, can you bury a pet in your backyard?

You can bury a pet in your backyard in most states, but regulations about how soon you must bury them varies from state to state. Most states require you to bury your pet within 24-48 hours, but Washington gives you 72 hours to bury your pet. You must dig a 3-foot hole, avoid utility lines, and conceal the body or cremains to avoid soil contamination.

It’s difficult to get over the death of a pet. However, burying a pet in your backyard is a great way to celebrate their life and get closure. Follow along as we explore everything you must know about burying a pet in your backyard.

Is It OK To Bury Your Dog In The Backyard?

It is okay to bury a pet in your backyard in most states. Most states require homeowners to bury a pet within 24-48 hours of its death. This rule exists because it’s important to bury your pet before it is too far along in the decomposition process.

Some states, like Washington, let you wait up to 72 hours to bury your pet in your backyard. You can bury your pet’s body or their cremains. However, you should never bury a pet in your backyard without first covering them with something, such as a blanket.

Before you bury a pet in your backyard, you should check to see if there are any specific regulations in your state. Most states allow it, but some have regulations regarding burial depth, method, and time frame.

How Do You Safely Bury A Pet?

The safest way to bury a pet in your backyard is to bury their cremains. This will ensure that you don’t contaminate the soil. The decomposition process can release harmful bacteria into the soil, which can be bad for your plants and nearby water sources.

However, you don’t have to cremate your pet before you bury it if you wrap it up. Wrap your pet in a blanket or enough fabric to cover the body completely. This will reduce the impact of the decomposition process on the soil.

Whether you cremate or cover the pet, it’s important to be careful about where you bury them. For example, it’s important to make sure you don’t dig in a spot with utility lines. This includes gas lines, electric lines, and sewage lines.

How Deep Do You Have To Dig To Bury A Pet?

Ideally, you should dig a 3-foot hole when you bury a pet. However, you may need to dig deeper if you live in an area with lots of rain. Heavy rain can unearth a buried pet as the soil slowly washes away over time, and it can be quite traumatizing to unexpectedly see your beloved pet unearthed.

It’s also a good idea to dig a hole deeper than 3 feet if you have other pets or if other animals frequently visit your yard. Animals love to dig, and their strong sense of smell may compel them to dig up your buried pet. Digging as deep as possible greatly reduces the risk that an animal will be able to dig up your pet.

Pick a spot in your yard that doesn’t typically get too wet before you bury your pet. This is helpful if you don’t want to have to dig too deep. That way, you won’t have to worry about rain unearthing your pet, and you won’t need to overexert yourself when you dig the hole because the soil won’t be as compact and heavy.

Is It Bad To Dig Up A Dead Pet?

Depending on the condition and how you bury them, it may be bad to dig up a dead pet. Animals start to decompose within hours of dying. The decomposition process continues and releases lots of bacteria that can be harmful to animals and humans that encounter it.

Because of that, you risk contaminating yourself and the surrounding soil when you dig up a dead pet. However, it is common for homeowners to dig up dead pets when they move to a new house. You can safely dig up a dead pet if you minimize contact with it.

For example, you must wear gloves and a respirator. It’s also easier to dig up a dead pet if you conceal them in several layers of fabric before burying them. The fabric will still be covered in bacteria, but it won’t be as dangerous as handling an uncovered animal. Don’t bring the dead pet into your house after you dig it up or you risk spreading harmful bacteria everywhere.

How To Keep Wild Animals From Digging Up Pets

One of the best ways to keep wild animals from digging up pets is to put a fence around the body. This also gives you the chance to build a nice memorial for your deceased pet. You can take the opportunity to put a headstone or some sort of marker within the confines of the fence to commemorate your pet’s location.

Another way to protect your pet’s burial site is to weigh it down with heavy stones. Animals may still pick up the body’s scent, but they will struggle to move the rocks and dig up the pet. It also helps to anchor your pet’s body with a heavy object when you bury it.

Some homeowners place weighted objects over the pet’s body before putting dirt on it during the burial. You can also help keep animals away if you sprinkle lime over the burial site. Regularly scatter cayenne pepper, soap shavings, and mint extract on the burial site to keep animals away.

Alternatives To Burying A Pet In Your Backyard

The most common alternative to burying a pet in your backyard is cremating the body and keeping it in an urn. This is quite common and gives you the chance to keep your pet’s remains close to you even if you move to another home. Some homeowners scatter some of the ashes and hold onto the rest.

Another alternative is to bury your pet in a pet cemetery. Many towns and cities have pet cemeteries that function just like traditional cemeteries for people. This is a great option if you want to be able to consistently visit your pet in a safe location.

You can also donate your pet’s body for research in many areas, and this is common after euthanasia. Many pet hospitals and euthanasia services can keep the body for you, and this is common for homeowners that struggle with what to do with the remains.

Summing It Up

You can bury a pet in your backyard in most states, but states vary in rules about the depth and how soon you must bury the body after death. You typically must bury your pet within 24-72 hours of its death because the decomposition process starts quickly. Many homeowners have their pets cremated to avoid soil contamination upon burial and to get closure.

However, you can also bury your pet wrapped in a blanket, fabric, or some type of pod to conceal them. Make sure to dig a hole that is at least 3 feet deep, so the body isn’t unearthed by rain or animals in your yard. Avoid utility lines when you dig the hole and try to bury your pet in a spot that isn’t too vulnerable to heavy rainfall.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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