How to Dispose of a Dead Animal

If your pet dog or cat has died, scroll below to the dog photo. Read the below do-it-yourself advice first, but if you need to hire help, we perform dead animal removal services in over 500 US locations - updated for year 2023.

As a wildlife removal expert, I'm often called to remove dead animals from property. Sometimes it's simple, such as when a raccoon or opossum dies in a yard. Sometimes it's more complex, such as when a rat dies in the walls, or a squirrel dies in the attic. Every now and then, people actually call me to remove their deceased dog or cat. So, how does one properly dispose of the animal carcass?

Burial: You can bury the dead body on your property. If it's a pet, you may want to put it in a box (pet coffin) for sentimental reasons. Or you can just lay the body in the ground. I recommend digging a hole at least two feet deep, to prevent scavengers from digging it up. You can also lay stones over the spot to prevent digging.

Incineration: If you have access to an incinerator, you can cremate the body. This is how the local animal shelter probably does it. Since you don't own an incinerator, you could attempt a really big bonfire, but I doubt you'll do that. Call your vet or local animal services.

Bring It To Animal Services: Call your local animal services (click this map of the USA for the phone number in your county - I list every county in the USA) and ask if they can accept a dead animal body for proper disposal.

Throw It Out: Your local garbage service might well take a dead body, though perhaps they'll discourage it, especially if the animal is large. But a mouse, rat, or even squirrel should not be any problem.

After you read the below information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does dead animal removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of dead animals - especially inside a house.
Example dead animal removal photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Dead animal removal job blog - learn from examples of dead animal jobs I've done.


  • Call your vet, if you have one, to make arrangements They may cremate the dog, or arrange for pet cemetary burial.
  • Bury the dog on your property, in a plastic bag in a box if you wish, at least 2 feet deep.
  • If you don't have a yard, bury the dog at your friend's house, or a secret place like the woods.
  • Have the dog cremated. Call your local SPCA or County Animal Services for help. I list all numbers in the USA here.
  • If the dog is on the smaller side, you can actually bag it and box it and put it out in the garbage bin for the sanitation dept. to take away.

If you need to keep the body fresher longer, refrigeration is the best option, if you have the ability. Otherwise, keep the body as cool as possible, and indoors. Remember that you may want to wear gloves or use a disposable plastic bag or sheet depending on the situation. Read more at my dead dog disposal page.

DECEASED PET DOG OR CAT: I'm sorry your pet died. Many people don't know what to do. Your options are similar to what I've laid out above, but I wrote that about wild animals like raccoons, so I want to treat it with more care. First, one of your options still remains to bury your pet, and have a little ceremony. You can bury it on your property, of if you don't own any land, you can use a friend's property. It may not be legal in your area to use public land, but if you find a private spot, who is going to stop you, really? Bury it at least two feet down. Second, there are many pet cremation services in most cities. Do a search for pet cremation, and you'll likely find some. Third, your local department of sanitation (garbage collection) can simply take the body, if small, with the regular trash, if you're okay with that, and bring it to the landfill. I would personally be okay with that once I've said goodbye to my pet and put it in a bag inside a box. If the body is larger, maybe a dog, larger than 25 lbs, you can arrange with many city's dept. of sanitation for special pickup. I have every one in the USA listed here - just click on your state, then city or town. Or Google search for "[yourcity] department of sanitation". They often offer deceased animal pickup. Fourth, your local animal services might help, but they often do not take dead bodies, and you must transport it to their facility. They might cremate the animal. I do list the county animal services for most US cities and towns in the red text below the wildlife removal company listing. DO NOT CALL the wildlife removal company. They will get angry and hang up. Only call the dog/cat number listed in your town for the local County animal services. Or you can just Google search for your local city or county animal services, or SPCA, or humane society.

Who do you call if there is a dead animal in the road? Who to call for roadkill cleanup? Call your local city department of sanitation! Search for "[yourcity] department of sanitation". They are who to call when there is a dead dog in the road, or a cat, or any wild animal road kill, on any street or highway or freeway or sidewalk or even any public area. When you call, ask about deceased animal pickup.

Most experts and health officials would definitely agree that you should not touch the bodies of animals that you found dead especially with your bare hands. You should always wear a protective glove to avoid any contamination with bacteria or other viruses that might have caused their deaths or just simply to maintain your hygiene. You cannot sometimes get away from small dead birds lying dead on your porch or your lawn and the most basic thing to do is perhaps to place it in a plastic container either to place it together with the garbage if you are expecting your garbage collector to come sooner but if you don't then you should find a way to bury it yourself.

There are actually state regulations that you have to follow in order to bury the body of whatever animal you may found. Certain laws would tell you how best to bury them that is why you also have to seek information regarding these laws. It is also important that you stay clear of any near water sources when you bury the dead body and you have to make sure that you are not digging into some utility power lines or pipes because you might just cause a bigger problem not only for yourself but for all the people in your neighborhood.

But what if you find something bigger than a bird that has been lying around in the perimeters of your property? There are four known methods that you can make use of namely landfills, composting, burial, and burning. If you are by chance near a landfill, you can check with your local facility to see if they would allow you to just throw the body of a dead animal into some backyard pile of landfill materials. You can also try composting if you like and that is letting the body rot in your backyard or an area not often visited or passed by to avoid taking in the undesirable smell of the rotting body. Although their remains might be good to fertilize your soil, you should be able to bear a few days of unpleasant odor that might find their way into your sense of smell once in a while. But if you can't afford to do this, there might just be a few composting sites that you can ask to take care of the remains for you.

Perhaps the most efficient and the most widely used method is burying the body. If you have a place of your own and if your local laws permit you to bury them as long as you follow their guidelines, you can go ahead and find a perfect place to lay the body and to let it rest in peace. But if the place is not yours, you can always ask the permission from the owner to do some digging to bury it. This is most recommended for those who have pets which might be the most common household dogs or cats that they feel most attached to so that they can show their proper respect for their favorite pet for the last time.

Aside from this, you can always opt for cremation. Again for those with pets, this is most ideal since you can also carry back the ashes with you if you like, to remember your beloved cats or dogs every time you see their ashes in their urn. Of course, this might cost some money but it would be worth it especially with the memento that you would have or to avoid any danger of contamination with other animals or even humans.

Aside from the mess that many of these pest animals cause when alive, there might be another problem you might find yourself in when they die on you and you just can't leave the bodies alone to rot. That especially if it is inside your house or within the perimeters of your property. The responsibility of taking care of their carcass lies solely on you. My friend Phil, who has decades of experience with disposal of decomposing body matters, wrote this article, in which he also suggests composting as an option. This article might be useful for you so you can know what to and what not to have done while handling dead animal bodies.

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