Cats and Dogs
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What to do when dog dies?

What to do When Your Pet Passes Away

Saying goodbye to your pet is always a hard and heartfelt time for you and your family, and while very difficult, the burden of distress is often eased by making decisions about how to keep their memory close to your heart and home.

  • Talk to your vet about arranging your pet’s body for disposal on your behalf. You may want to look into their offering as sometimes cremation is not an option and your pet might end up as landfill. Many veterinarians make provisions for cremation, either with other animals for a small fee, or individually for the rates of a professional service. Your vet can help alleviate the stresses of organising post-mortem matters.
  • You can independently plan a cremation. The team at RSPCA Pets at Rest can help. Our team respectfully care for your pet’s remains with individual pet cremations and have many beautiful options for memorialising your pet.
  • You can choose to bury your pet at your property. This can be a meaningful and meditative process for home owners able to do so.
  • You can also contact your local council’s waste facility about possible disposal options at their site.

Local Laws

Have you checked with your council about their local laws regarding pet disposal and backyard burials? Some jurisdictions will not allow burial on private property for reasons such as cause of death, regional water table and types of soil. Others councils will allow it, though this may be subject to your pet’s size, depth of burial etc.

Similarly, some municipal facilities will accept deceased animals, but there are often associated costs and strict regulations, so be sure to check their requirements.

Respectful Options for Your Pet

Backyard burials are a sincere and sometimes permittable option for home owners. For many people this allows for the significance of ceremony and a burial site as a place of calming reflection. However, this may not suit everyone if you’re planning to move home in the future dislike the idea of having to leave your pet behind.

Choosing to memorialise your pet in a loving, thoughtful way through cremation relieves the worry of long-lost locations. Your pet’s ashes can be kept in remembrance for a lifetime and for many families this brings great comfort not only in those early, grieving days but also into the future.

Door-to-door cremation services help take away the stress of what to do next when your pet passes away. They offer a meaningful memorial, tribute and commemorative products to suit your requests. Caring, fully-trained staff provide support and comfort throughout the process of choosing how you’d like to preserve your pet’s memory. Urns, candles, jewellery and framed images are just some of the ways that you can keep the presence and memory of your pet nearby.

Cremation services are also surprisingly affordable, and if up-front funds are a problem, many businesses like RSPCA Pets at Rest, offer convenient payment plans to help ease the financial burden.

The most important thing to remember when choosing an end-of-life option for your pet is that it should always be based on what feels right and is achievable for you and your family. Final goodbyes are often the personal, first steps towards healing.

Helping other pets in need

If you do opt to cremate your pet, supporting a pet cremation service like RSPCA Pets at Rest also means that 100% of proceeds from services go towards RSPCA Queensland. Your pet’s memory will continue to live on through the care of other animals waiting for new homes.

Rebecca Kahler

Rebecca loves animals, stories, poems and all portraits of a good cause. She’s a qualified creative and professional writer and is excited to put words to page in support of the RSPCA and the many animals they rescue, nurture and protect.

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Pet gets ill or dies after buying

If your pet gets ill or dies soon after you buy it, you might be able to get a refund or replacement from the trader you bought it from.

If you bought your pet from a shop

When you buy a pet, your consumer rights are the same as when you buy any item or product. This means you might be able to get a refund or a replacement pet from the shop if your pet gets ill or dies soon after you bought it.

If you have to spend money taking your pet to the vet soon after you bought it, you should ask the trader you bought it from to cover the cost of the vet’s fees.

Check if the shop has a licence to sell pets from their local council — it should be displayed in their shop or on their website. If they don’t have a licence check how to report the shop to Trading Standards.


Sarah bought a hamster from PetsUniversal. Five days later the hamster got very ill and Sarah had to take it to the vet. Unfortunately, the vet said the hamster had to be put down which would cost £50. Sarah had to pay £50 to the vet to put the hamster to sleep. Sarah can go back to PetsUniversal with a receipt from the vet and ask for her money back, plus either a refund for the cost of the hamster or a new hamster.

If you bought the pet from a private seller

If you bought the pet from a private seller, you have less consumer rights than if you bought it from a shop or organisation. You can only get a refund for the cost of the pet if it didn’t match the description the seller gave you. So if the seller described the pet as healthy, you might have a right to a refund.

If you didn’t ask about the pet’s health and the seller didn’t tell you how healthy it was, there is nothing you can do.

Get a contract when you buy a puppy

Over the past few years there’s been a big increase in puppies getting ill or dying soon after being bought from private sellers. Often these puppies have come from ‘puppy farms’, where they haven’t been bred or looked after properly.

If you’re planning to buy a puppy, you can ask a private seller to sign a ‘puppy contract’. The seller must give a detailed description of the health and history of the puppy in the contract, so you can feel confident that your puppy is fit and well.

The contract is legally binding, so it gives you better protection as a consumer — you’ll have a detailed description of the puppy in writing so you can ask for a refund if the puppy doesn’t meet that description. Download a free puppy contract from the Puppy Contract website.

Next steps

  • Return faulty goods
  • If you need more help

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Page last reviewed: 24 September 2019

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