As much as we'd love for our beloved dogs to live forever, facing their morality is an unfortunate part of pet ownership. And sadly, because dogs can live shorter lives than humans, we sometimes outlive our four-legged companions. 

When considering your dog’s end-of-life plans, it’s important to learn all of your dog burial options and what’s involved, so you’re prepared to make decisions when your pet passes away. Our guide outlines some options you have when your dog dies and provides some dog burial ideas and alternatives.

Dog burial options and alternatives

There are several options to consider when laying your pet to rest and celebrating their legacy. Each decision is based on your personal preferences and what kind of resting place you’d like for your pet. 

What are your options when a dog dies?

When your dog dies, you can choose to either bury or cremate their body. As you contemplate which option you’d like, consider your beliefs and where you’d like your dog’s remains to be placed.

If you choose cremation, you’ll receive a special container with your dog’s ashes, or cremains, which you can then place in an urn, incorporate into jewelry, spread in nature, or even bury in the ground. Alternatively, with a ground burial you’ll need to decide what to bury your dog in and where you’d like them buried. 

Read more: 10 ideas for pet ashes

Is it better to bury your dog or cremate?

There is no right or wrong decision when it comes to burying or cremating your dog. Consider your personal preferences, including where you’d like your dog’s remains to be buried or stored, and the costs involved. 

The cost of burial or cremation is based on the dog’s size. Dog burial cost including the plot, casket, headstone, and additional expenses can total between $1,000-$2,000 on average. Cremation usually costs between $30-$250. 

Read more: How much does it cost to cremate a dog?

What is the best thing to bury a dog in? 

When burying your dog, we recommend using biodegradable, non-toxic materials. Consider wrapping them in a blanket or towel or placing their body or ashes in a wicker, cardboard, or wooden coffin or urn. You can also purchase a dog burial box specifically designed for this purpose. Keep in mind, though, depending on which burial option you choose, there may be additional specifications around acceptable burial containers. 

Dog burial ideas and alternatives

For some guidance on making final arrangements for man’s best friend, check out our list of dog burial ideas and alternatives.

A memorial tree that helps protect forests

Memorial forests are peaceful, beautiful sanctuaries in nature that provide a lovely resting place for humans and dogs alike. If you’ve selected a memorial tree in a Better Place Forests location as your own resting place, you can add your dog’s ashes to make it a family tree.

With Better Place Forests, ashes are mixed with local soil and returned to the base of the tree, becoming part of the forest. Each purchase helps preserve and protect the forest, making it a living, lasting memorial loved ones can return to visit in the beauty of nature. 

Once you’ve secured a tree, you can hold a forest memorial to return your dog’s ashes to the earth with peace of mind knowing you’ll join your dog in this tranquil space when your time comes. 

Pick a special place on your property 

Some pet owners prefer the idea of burying their dogs on their property. The beauty of this option is that you can visit your dog’s final resting place whenever you’d like. Maybe you want to bury your pup under her favorite oak tree or create a memorial plot in your backyard with a bench where you can sit and reflect. 

If you’d like to go this route, you must check with your state, county, and municipality before burying your dog, as there may be rules and regulations regarding what’s legal in your area.

Some states have strict rules about where, when, and how deep you must bury your dog on your property. For example, in Michigan, you must bury your dog within 24 hours of it passing away, and it needs to be at a depth of at least two feet in the ground. Meanwhile, in Washington, you have up to 72 hours, but at least three feet of soil must cover your dog’s body. Some states even dictate the distance you must bury your pet away from specific areas, such as property lines, neighboring residences, wells, and lakes, so make sure to do your research on the rules in your area. 

Alternatively, if you cremate your dog, you might have more freedom when it comes to spreading or burying their ashes on your private property. Double-check with your local laws before making a choice of where to spread their ashes. 

Go the pet cemetery route 

Purchasing a plot in a pet cemetery is another popular dog burial option. Pet cemeteries are burial grounds designated for pets, where pet owners can visit and reflect on their pets’ lives. 

There are around 700 established pet cemeteries in the U.S., so there’s a good chance you can find a plot near you. Depending on the pet cemetery, you may have the option of burying your dog’s body or ashes. Dog burial cost includes several elements, including the plot. The cost of the plot is based on the size needed, meaning it’ll likely cost less to bury a small, 10-pound dog than one that weighs 75+ pounds. That said, on average, it costs between $400 and $600 for a plot in a pet cemetery. 

Share a burial plot

Some pet owners wonder if it’s possible to be buried alongside their dogs in a cemetery. Currently, there are only two states that allow this: Pennsylvania and Virginia. Pennsylvania has cemeteries that offer special plots designated for pets and their owners, while Virginia allows a human to be buried next to their dog only if it was a companion animal and as long as they have separate caskets. 

However, most states don’t have rules about burying humans with their pet’s cremains. This means if you plan to be buried in a casket, you can most likely have your dog’s ashes placed in there as well. If this is something you’re interested in, speak with your loved ones about incorporating this into your funeral arrangements. 

While it can be uncomfortable and emotional to think about your dog’s final days, when the time comes, understanding dog burial options and having a plan in place can give you peace of mind and a sense of comfort.

Read more: Losing a dog: how to express sympathy and words to share