The ASPCA wishes to extend our deepest condolences to those experiencing or anticipating the loss of a beloved pet. We understand that this is a very tough time for the whole family. Please know that the ASPCA is here for you should you need assistance working through your grief.
If your pet is under the care of a veterinarian at the time of his or her passing, the vet can guide you through the next steps. However, New Yorkers who do not have a relationship with a veterinarian often ask what they should do when a pet dies at home. Living in New York City, you are fortunate to have a wide range of options. Whether you want simply for the body to be removed from your home, or you wish to permanently memorialize your pet in some special way, the choice is yours.
Depending on your decision, you may have to keep the body in your home for a short period of time, particularly if the death has occurred at night. A well-cooled body can be held for up to 24 hours, but as this is difficult to maintain in a home, the sooner it can be taken somewhere else, the better.
•Placing the wrapped animal in a refrigerator or freezer is recommended, with one exception—if you plan to have a necropsy performed to determine cause of death, the body should not be frozen (refrigeration is still okay). It is essential that you contact a veterinarian as soon as possible if you would like a necropsy.
•If the animal is too big to be put into a refrigerator or freezer, the body should be placed on a cement floor or concrete slab—a cool, concrete floor is the best way to draw heat away from the carcass. Do not cover or wrap the body in this instance. Doing so will trap in heat and not allow the body temperature to cool..
•As a last resort, if neither refrigeration nor concrete floors are options, you may keep the body in the coldest area of your home, out of the sun, packed with bags of ice. In this case, the body should be placed in a plastic bag to prevent it from getting wet.
The body will not decompose immediately, so there is no need to worry about odor. Also, contrary to common belief, other pets in the household will not be traumatized by seeing the body.