Many people often find themselves at crossroads and conflicted about whether to bury their dog in their backyard or not.
The loss of a pet is never easy, especially if you have developed a strong connection with them. They end up being an invaluable member of your family.
You started by giving them cute, adorable names then followed through by sharing beautiful moments and creating wonderful memories together for years.
This bond will not only make it hard to decide when to put your dog down, but also make you want to bury him in your backyard.
But can you bury your dog in your backyard? Which states allow the home burial of pets and what are the regulations you must follow?
Below we have a look at the most important things to help you decide whether burying your dog in the backyard is the right thing to do.
Recommended: Checklist for When to Put Your Dog Down
Can I bury my dog in my backyard?
It is legal in most states to bury dogs and other pets in the backyard. However, there are state regulations you need to follow such as making the grave at least 3 feet deep and far from water sources and utility lines such as sewage lines, electric lines, and gas pipes.
Legal states to bury a pet in the backyard
Here is a list of all the states where you can bury your dog in your backyard and a summary of their requirements. We recommend you speak with relevant local authorities or your vet to have all the details you need based on your state.
|Alabama||Home burial is allowed but make sure the burial site is at least 2ft deep|
|Alaska||Burial allowed but consider cremation if frozen grounds makes it impossible|
|Colorado||You can bury provided the dog is not contaminated with infectious disease. Burial-specific depth also applies.|
|Connecticut||Burial allowed but ensure to bury them deep enough to avoid scavengers|
|Delaware||Home burial allowed but make sure not to bury near a water source|
|Florida||Burial allowed but recommends cremation if your pet died of an infectious disease|
|Georgia||Burial is allowed but make sure to bury your pet deep enough to keep scavengers away|
|Hawaii||Home burial is allowed but you should first check with your homeowner association for further clarifications|
|Idaho||Burial is allowed provided you bury your pet at least 3ft underground|
|Illinois||You can bury your dog at home only if it does not have an infectious disease|
|Indiana||Home burial allowed as long as you bury your pet at least 4ft underground|
|Iowa||Home burial is allowed but you should check with individual homeowner association for further clarifications|
|Kansas||Burial is allowed provided the pet does not pose any risks to the environment or ecosystem|
|Kentucky||Home burial allowed but make sure the burial site is 4ft deep and at least 100 ft from a water source|
|Louisiana||Home burial is allowed provided the pet is not contaminated with an infectious disease and the burial site is at least 6 feet deep|
|Maine||Home burial allowed provided the pet isn’t carrying any infectious disease and is buried far from a water source|
|Maryland||Home burial is allowed but make sure the pet is burial at least 4 feet underground|
|Massachusetts||Pet burial laws differ from town to town, but in most areas, it is allowed. Make sure to check with relevant local authorities|
|Michigan||Home burial allowed provided it doesn’t interfere with a water source|
|Minnesota||Home burial is allowed provided the burial site is far from a water source and is sufficiently deep|
|Mississippi||Home burial is legal provided the pet is buried at least 2 feet underground|
|Missouri||Home burial is allowed provided the burial site is not near a water source and is at least 300ft away from your neighbor|
|Montana||Home burial is allowed provided the pet is buried at least 2ft underground|
|Nebraska||Home burial is allowed provided the burial site is at least 5ft deep and 500ft away from a water source|
|Nevada||You can bury your dog in your backyard provided it is buried at least 3ft underground|
|New Hampshire||Home burial is legal provided the site is at least 75ft from the nearest water source|
|New Jersey||Home burial is allowed provided the pet is buried at least 2ft underground|
|New Mexico||Home burial is allowed but only with a legal permit from your homeowner association|
|North Carolina||Home burial is allowed provided the burial takes place within 24hrs after your pet passes and the burial site is at least 3ft deep|
|North Dakota||Home burial is allowed for pets with non-infectious diseases and should be buried at least 3ft underground|
|Ohio||Home burial is legal but you should consult your city for additional regulations|
|Oklahoma||Home burial is legal provided the burial site is at least 3ft deep|
|Pennsylvania||You can bury your pet at home but make sure to do so within 48 hours after your dog dies|
|South Carolina||Pet burial at home is legal provided they’re buried at least 1ft deep|
|South Dakota||Home burial is allowed provided it is done within 36 hours after their passing and the burial site is kept at least 3ft deep|
|Tennessee||Home burial is allowed provided the burial site is at least 3ft deep and situated away from a water source|
|Texas||Home burial is allowed as long as the burial site is at least 3ft deep|
|Utah||You can bury your pet at home as long as you do so within 48hrs of their passing|
|Virginia||Home burial is legal but make sure to do so within 48hrs of their passing|
|West Virginia||You can bury your dog at home as long as the burial site is at least 3ft deep|
|Wyoming||Some areas in Wyoming require pet parents to get approval to bury their pets at home. It’s advisable to seek help from your local veterinarian|
The illegal states to bury a pet in the backyard
Here is a list of the few states where it is illegal to bury your dog in the backyard. Please check with relevant local authorities or your local vet for more details.
|Arizona||Most cities in the state of Arizona do not allow the home burial of pets but do allow public pet cemeteries. Your veterinarian can help you if you need more details|
|Arkansas||Home burial is not allowed. Pet owners must cremate or dispose of their pet’s body within 12hrs of their passing|
|California||Home burial of pets is illegal in California, although most pet owners in rural areas do otherwise|
|Wisconsin||Some parts of the state do not allow the home burial of pets. Be sure to check with your local authorities or veterinarian for more details|
States without pet burial laws
These states do not currently have pet burial laws, but a few regulations may still apply. You should seek veterinary assistance before deciding whether to bury your dog in your backyard or not.
|State||Rules and Regulations|
|New York||No state laws apply but your veterinarian can help you with your city’s rules|
|Rhode Island||No regulations on pet burial so it’s advisable to seek the help of your local veterinarian|
|Vermont||The state of Vermont does not have regulations on pet burial, so consulting your local veterinarian is a good idea|
|Washington||The state has no pet burial laws. We recommend you seek the help of your local veterinarian|
Why is burying your dog in your backyard a bad idea?
Although most states allow pet owners to bury their pets at home, sometimes doing so might not be a good idea. Here are a few reasons why burying your pet in your backyard might not be such a good idea.
1. Can be dug up by other animals
There’s always a possibility that other neighborhood pets and even wild animals will dig them up. This will become an issue if your pet died of a contagious disease such as parvovirus. The disease can easily be transmitted to healthy pets in your home and neighborhood.
It’s also an issue if your pet underwent euthanasia. The anesthetic drug used during the procedure, pentobarbital, can remain in the deceased dog’s body for up to a year. Another animal digging your deceased pet up will probably come in contact with the drug and could get seriously sick.
2. Resurfacing during floods
We have all seen the havoc floods have on infrastructure and the environment. Floods can dig up buried pet bodies, especially if it was not done right. This could lead to contamination of water sources and outbreaks of diseases.
3. Losing backyard memorial
Most families choose to bury their pets in their backyards to have a memorial site for them – which is truly comforting. Unfortunately, you will leave behind the backyard memorial if your family were to move and there’s nothing you can do about it.
4. Legal complications
You are not allowed to bury your dog in your backyard in some states. This means if you do so knowingly or unknowingly, you could risk fines. Besides, there are very specific state and local regulations that you must follow and failure to do so could bring forth legal ramifications.
What to consider before burying your dog in your backyard
There are a few things you should consider if you decide to bury your dog in your backyard.
If you really need a backyard memorial for your dog, why not consider having their body cremated first before being buried? Cremation incinerates the body and the resulting ashes are harmless.
You can still have your backyard memorial while keeping other pets and the environment safe from infectious diseases and contamination respectively.
Most states require a pet to be buried 3ft to 5ft deep underground. This helps prevent the bodies from being dug up by other animals or unearthed during floods.
3. Water sources
You should bury your dog in a high, dry place away from water sources. Elevated burial sites mean floodwaters are less likely to unearth the pet’s body. It also prevents groundwater from leaching contaminants into the environment.
4. Utility lines
You should also ensure the burial site is not near any utility line, including a sewage line, electric line, or gas pipes.
Alternatives to burying your dog in your backyard
Here are a few alternatives for you if you do not want to bury your pet in your backyard.
1. Cremation with an urn
You may choose to have your pet cremated and have their ashes rest at home in an urn. You may also choose an outdoor rock urn for your garden or yard.
2. Cremation with burial or spreading
You may have your pet cremated and bury the cremains in a biodegradable urn. You may also choose to spread the cremains in a place that’s meaningful for you and your pet.
3. Burial in a pet cemetery
If your backyard doesn’t meet the required guidelines and you still want to bury your pet, consider a pet cemetery. Your pet will receive a professional burial and you get a chance to say your goodbyes.
4. Donate to research
You may also consider donating your pet’s body for research. It will help veterinary researchers and vet students learn more about animal diseases and come up with treatments.
5. Alkaline hydrolysis
This is a procedure that uses water, heat, and alkaline chemicals to break down a body. The body will undergo decomposition much faster than under natural circumstances. You get to keep fine bone-fragment cremains.
Dog burial FAQs
Let’s have a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about dog burials.
1. How long can you keep a dead dog?
Most states require burial, cremation, or disposing of a dead dog’s body within 24 to 48 hours. Dog’s that will be buried in pet cemeteries can stay a little longer as it can take days to arrange for a burial.
2. Should you bury your dog in a plastic bag
No, it takes years for plastic to decompose and is not environmentally friendly. It’s recommended to bury a pet in a biodegradable bag or box. Most coffins are made of wood and will degrade much faster than plastic and are also environmentally friendly.
3. Is it better to cremate or bury a pet?
Although this is a personal decision, most pet owners choose cremation over burial because it’s more convenient, and cheaper, and you can keep your pet’s cremains in an urn, including indoor and outdoor urns.
4. How much does it cost to bury a pet in a pet cemetery
The cost of burying a pet varies ranging from $500 to $5000. Determining factors include where you live, the cemetery you choose, your choice of casket, and your choice of additional services such as a memorial service, headstone, pawprint keepsake, etc.
While it is legal in many states to bury a dog in the backyard, you need to take your time to understand all the regulations should follow. You can also consider having your pet’s body cremated then keep the cremains in an urn.