Dogs are man’s best friend, but they also have their share of health problems. Just like humans, they can suffer from things like cancer or other diseases and eventually succumb to them.
This means that you will have to face the harsh reality of losing your beloved pet, and there are likely to be certain questions playing on your mind. One of these is: where does my dog go after death?
Now, there are two perspectives you can take when forming an answer to questions like this: a practical one and a spiritual one. The spiritual angle deals with divine questions and will differ according to your personal beliefs.
What we are most concerned with is the physical aspect of what happens to the actual body of your dog once it has passed over to the other side, but we will also touch briefly on the prospect of an afterlife for animals.
Of course, there are different answers depending on if the dog in question was wild or domesticated. We will concentrate mainly on what to do with deceased pet dogs, as that will be a pressing issue for most people reading this article.
There are various options available to you, in a similar way that there are options for human disposition. We will explore these in detail below, so that you can be prepared for when the time comes.
Cancer In Dogs
Dogs are very loyal animals, so it’s often heartbreaking when they get sick. There are various types of cancers affecting dogs, such as lymphoma, mast cell tumor, hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and soft tissue sarcomas.
Unfortunately, cancer is one of the biggest killers of dogs, as with humans. The most common type of cancer in dogs is lymphoma. It usually starts in the lymph nodes or spleen.
After diagnosis, treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and immunotherapy. Obviously, going through with all this would incur a very hefty vet bill that many owners simply can’t afford.
You must also consider the dog’s quality of life throughout such invasive and exhausting treatments. Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, the best solution is usually either to let the disease run its natural course, or make the decision for euthanasia to end the suffering.
What Are My Options?
So, the fateful day has come when your beloved family pet is about to take his last earthly breath.
How can you prepare for the impending death of your pet, and what can you do afterwards to honor his memory and help him get eternal peace?
As with humans, there are two main options: burial or cremation. We will also discuss pet cemeteries and memorial services.
This is by no means an exhaustive list or foolproof guide; there are numerous other resources available online that provide more information on these topics. Take a look at this website for support and ideas to get you through this tough time.
Preparing for Death
When your dog dies, it’s important to ensure his last moments were as comfortable as you can make them. Many vets make house calls, so you can likely get hold of one of these if your dog is in a lot of pain at the end of his life.
That way, if you need to make the difficult decision for euthanasia, at least he will be in a familiar place surrounded by his favorite person or people.
Where possible, all family members should be involved in the decision about aftercare arrangement. Chances are, everyone will have felt a strong connection to the animal and there will be an immense feeling of sadness.
It will be a positive step in the grieving process if you can all let your voices be heard and have a say in the matter.
By far the most popular route to take in the days after death is to bury the dog. This can be in the back garden, or in another place that was special to the dog (provided you have permission from the landowner first!).
A burial is very cost-effective, as you will probably already own a shovel and can dig the hole yourself.
It also allows the heartbroken family to gather in a feeling of remembrance if they wish. Why not take the opportunity to have a small memorial service for your dog?
People can take it in turns to say a few words, recalling their favorite memories and funny moments spent with the dog in happier times.
The most important thing to remember when preparing your dog’s burial is to make sure the hole is deep enough. Some people get tired after digging a short way into the ground, and assume it will be enough to keep the body safely in the ground.
If you’d rather honor your beloved pet in a different way, you can choose to have them cremated instead. Pet cremation works in much the same way as human cremation, although it is generally cheaper because the body is smaller.
Depending on where your pet comes from and the businesses that offer it where you live, cremation can cost anywhere between $50-$500.
If you’re going to be paying this amount anyway, then why not have a ceremony for your pets too?
Some establishments offer this alongside their cremation package in a custom-built chapel, so you’ll be able to go ahead and plan a full funeral while you’re at it!
If you’re planning a cremation, try to arrange one before your pet dies, and you may find that some companies offer discounts for booking early.
There is often an extra fee charged for the disposal of ashes, which can add up quickly. In some cases, you may even need to purchase a container for safe storage.
This doesn’t have to be an ornately decorated urn that costs a lot of money and is highly breakable – you could just have a simple wooden box. However, by all means go for a more expensive option if that’s what you prefer.
There’s no “right” answer for what you should do with the ashes once you retrieve them — it depends entirely on what kind of relationship you had with your pet.
You might want to have them buried together at the cemetery, or scatter them around the garden, or give them a nice send off at home. Whatever you decide, please think carefully about how it might affect the environment or habitats of other animals living around.
Is There An Afterlife For Dogs?
This is a big existential question to tackle, and we have no more idea than you do if there is actually an afterlife for animals after they die. In fact, it very much depends on what you believe as to where you stand on this issue.
Some religions teach that there is a heaven for dogs, where they live an eternal life in blissful freedom from their suffering. Others teach that dogs don’t go anywhere until they reincarnate in another form, perhaps as a bird. Still, others teach that dogs simply cease to exist.
The truth is, nobody knows for sure. If you want to know what the afterlife looks like for dogs, then you’ll just have to wait until you meet up again.
Until then, the hope of reunion can keep you going in your hardest moments when you’re thinking about the concept of death.
You may find it helpful to learn about the Reunion Theory, which is a key idea put forward in the video game series Final Fantasy and has brought comfort to many people.
It is up to you whether you choose to believe that there is an afterlife for animals and they do visit another dimension after death.
Animal souls were certainly a big deal in ancient times, and in some cultures the family cat or dog would be buried alongside the human family members to be reunited with them in the afterlife.
Many Christians today still believe in animal souls, and Pope John Paul II himself declared that all animals go to Heaven to spend eternity in peace.
As always with religion, you will need to decide for yourself how much weight you give to beliefs such as this; they have been proven to help countless people through what is understandably a difficult time.
Hopefully, this article has given you some insight on what to expect at the end of your pet’s life.
They will have completed their full cycle of existence from birth to death, and it’s understandable that you want to make the transition as comfortable as possible for them.
There is certainly a lot to think about both before it happens and in the hours after death, which can overwhelm you during what is already a difficult time.
If you are at all spiritual, it may help you to reflect on the idea of an afterlife for animals, just as many believe that there is an afterlife for humans.
This allows you to hope that you will see your dog again somehow and that your immortal souls will eventually find each other, as in the Reunion Theory. You don’t necessarily need to believe in this to be able to take some kind of conceptual solace from it.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to make your dog as comfortable as possible in its last days. Please book a house call vet to come over and check the animal out, as they may be able to relieve any pain or facilitate an easier, more dignified death.
This really is the least you can do for your faithful friend who has provided you so many years of happy memories and companionship.