Backyard Burial Pet Rainbow Bridge

Home Burial

When we lose a beloved pet, it is a tragic loss that is akin to losing one of the family. Many opt to bury their pets at home so they can decorate and visit the grave as desired.

Pets are almost always buried at home assuming they are not put down at a veterinarian's office but there are no rules about this. Pets can be buried in the garden of the domestic property where the pet lived as long as it is not within definition of hazardous waste. If it qualifies as hazardous waste, one must obtain local authority consent to clear the burial. We do not recommend burying the remains of a pet near any natural water source such as streams or ponds.


Before You Begin

Backyard Burial PetsIt is perhaps a good idea to wait 3 hours before burial if your pet has just died. Rigor mortis usually sets in within 3 hours and stays with for a number of days. However, this is much more obvious in mammals than in reptiles. A motionless snake could just be sleeping after a large meal.

If you catch the body during the time just after death, you will be able to pose or arrange the body in compact or restful position which will be set for a number of days after. Bathing the body in warm water and massaging the muscles can loosen up some of the muscles, allowing some repositioning.

Some pets are easier to determine of death than others. An insect or spider will be on its back with its legs curled in. A bird will lie inert, legs pointed skyward. A fish will floating belly-up in a its water. Take care with turtles and other pets who hibernate. Do not to assume them dead when it may be possible they are sleeping or in shock. In these cases one can use a pocket mirror to confirm breathing or check the pet's neck to feel a pulse before assuming death.

General Precautions when Handling Pet Remains

To guard against any possible diseases always use extreme caution when handling animal remains whether or not your pet had been ill. Use universal precautions to reduce exposure to disease, ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas.

Below are some tips on handling a deceased pet’s remains including methods of handling.
Basic precautions
**Wear protective clothing
**Avoid eating and drinking near or while handling remains.
**Wear disposable rubber or plastic gloves while handling remains.
**Wear a protective mask to prevent the inhalation of fungal spores.
**All clothing worn while handling remains should be scrubbed with soap, detergent, or bleach.
**Safely dispose disposable by double bagging soiled items in labeled outdoor garbage bags.
**Seek a physicians advise if you feel ill following exposure to remains.
**Always focus on practicing good hygiene.

Handling Dead Wild Animals

Backyard BurialAlways avoid handling dead wild animals if at all possible. Contact your local department of animal control for curbside pick-up. However, if the circumstance is a dangerous or hazardous, contact your local authorities or police department. If you need assistance removing dead animals in your rafters or in between walls, please contact a local pest control service that specializes in these types of removals.

This is a morbid subject, but if you have pets or live near a lot of wildlife you'll likely come across this situation. If you have any tips or advice on this sad task, please share them with us.

Backyard Burial


Should there be a reason to delay burial, it is always advisable to place the body in a well labeled air tight plastic container. If small enough, this can be stored in a refrigerator or placed in another cold location for a couple of days until burial. (There is no need to freeze the body.) The rate of decay can be affected by your climate and environment. Decay takes hold much faster in warmer humid climates.

Backyard Burial Kids

Choosing a Burial Container

An outer burial container contains and temporarily insulates remains from the elements. Coffins can be made of any material, size and shape so be creative! Bring in the whole family to take part in creating and ornamenting your pet's burial container.

(We recommend wrapping the body in a sheet or blanket and using natural biodegradable materials for the burial container. You may wish to consider a natural Pet Burial Papoose shown below or making your own.

Burial Container Ideas

Small Pets

*Shoe boxes
*Cigar Boxes
*Sunglasses Containers
*Jewelry containers
*Hot Dog & Hamburger containers
*Sardine Tin (Fish)
*Lunch Boxes

Large Pets

*Wooden Crate

Medium Pets

*Wicker Basket
*Cardboard boxes
*Knitted Sachels
*Laundry Basket
*Hat Box

Pet Burial Papoose

Backyard Burial Pet Papoose

Backyard Burial DIY Headstones

DIY Headstones

Headstones can be carved out of foam or cut out of ply wood. You could also simply pick a great looking stone. (We suggest that the best type of headstones are rocks with wells that can gather water for passing birds. Serving a dual function as a bird feeder.

Choosing a Location for a Grave

Backyard Burial Choose a Grave LocationThe word "nature" conjures up mental images of majestic wilderness destinations, but what about the wildlife sanctuary right at home…your own backyard. The ideal location for the grave would be your very own backyard where you can tend the spot and still feel your pet near you. You might even decide that you would like to be buried beside your pet. Be sure that the remains are not placed in a location that could be disturbed by your remaining pets or because the location is not marked well. Clearly mark the location of the burial both on the property dead and on the physical location with some kind of indicator. Make the placement and perimeter clear. Choose appropriate plantings (bushes and or flowers) taking into consideration future additions to the yard.

Choose a location where you do not expect to be excavating in the future. Possibly under a shady tree, make a round hole no less than 24” below the surface. After placing the remains in a thoughtful burial container, (non plastic) cover over the container with soil. There will likely be a small mound of displaced soil. Pack it down as well as you can to avid a tripping hazard. This small “burial mound” will settle in time. On a piece of paper kept in the same place as your properties dead, it may be wise to keep a drawing designating the position of the burial so as to remember which area to avoid dusturbing.

Preparing for a Backyard Burial

Backyard Burial ToolsSome helpful items to have are:
*One or more shovels
*Padded gloves for digging
*Medical gloves for handling remains
*No Dig Spray
*Seeds or a sapling
*Insect repellant
*Trash bags
*A Shroud - A white sheet or towel and a length of cord or rope.

Additional Backyard Burial Suggestions

Backyard BurialWear long pants and long sleeves.
*Wear gloves when handling remains.
*Wash hands off thoroughly with antibacterial soap after exposure to remains.
*Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes and face.
*Carry wipes moistened with rubbing alcohol.
*Afterward, wash clothing in hot water and rinse well.
*Eliminate sources of standing water near the grave site.
*Discourage pests by keeping your lawn neatly mowed and trimmed.
*Add whirligigs to the headstone or as the headstone to create a moving monument.
*Use stones directly above the burial to discourage scavengers, although a burial depth of 2+ ft is usually enough to discourage this.

Prepare and Decorate the grave together.

Backyard BurialAsk kids to find objects around the yard to decorate the grave. Provide each child with a collection bag and ask them to collect – shells, flowers, feathers, bark, acorns, leaves, twigs, stones, berries, and keepsake objects such as leashes, collars, and even pictures or drawings made in honor of your pet. Possibly explore the backyard, neighborhood, park or local green space for objects that help tell their story of love. A scavenger hunt encourages children to explore their senses and feelings. Touching, smelling, and assembling a memorial display of their own in honor of a dear friend teaches a respect for the dead and the family gravesite reaffirms the importance their loss to the family as a whole.

Some families opt to bury their pet at a cemetery designated specifically just for pets. A good thing to keep in mind is that many cemeteries restrict burial to the summer months because the ground is too hard to dig during the winter or in the snow. However, pet burial is far more shallow than requirements for human burial, so there should not be issues that arise from your backyard interment.

Backyard Burial Benefits

Backyard Burial DigResearchers in the United Kingdom have suggested that exposure to the “good” bacteria found in soil may lift one’s mood by raising the levels of serotonin in the brain. Studies also suggest that “dirty” activities expose children to a host of microbes and microorganisms that stimulate and strengthen there immune systems. The rich earthy material we know as dirt or soil is actually a combination of mineral substances (such as clay or silt) and organic material (The microscopic bits of plants and animals that once were alive.)

Family Led Funeral for Kitty

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