Would you consider having pet rabbits

The pet is dead - ways to say goodbye

If the animal dies or is euthanized, it is extremely painful for us pet owners. Whether our beloved pet has left unexpectedly or not, very few think about what should happen to the body of dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and the like afterwards. Who likes to deal with the death of their beloved pet? Just the thought of it makes you shudder.

In order not to have to deal with it in deep sadness, it makes perfect sense to have informed yourself about the possibilities in advance. In some cases, the laws and regulations of the individual federal states and regions are so different that only those are listed here that apply to most of Germany.

In our veterinary clinics, too, discussions on this topic are often part of the everyday life of our employees, which is why we were asked to write an article about it.

For the sake of completeness, all legal options are listed here, including options that not everyone considers appropriate.

The following options are available, each of which is described in more detail below in the text without any evaluation:

Bury the animal

The animal grave option is only possible if you have your own garden. If you live in rent, it is better to clarify with the landlord in advance whether it is okay to bury the animal in the garden. A burial in the forest is strongly discouraged, as there are high fines for this. But even when it comes to your own garden, there are a few things to consider. In some regions, an application for a house burial must be submitted to the responsible veterinary office.

Determination of the location and depth of the animal grave

  • The carcass must be covered with at least 50 cm of soil
  • The grave must not be in the immediate vicinity of public places and paths (there are usually provisions on minimum distance)
  • In a water or nature reserve
  • In animals that were kept for scenic purposes
  • If the animal has suffered from an infectious disease


Please consider

Please inform yourself about any deviating regulations in your municipality in order to prevent violations of the law. There are also regions where burying is completely forbidden. For example, pets are hardly allowed to be buried anywhere in Bremen due to the high groundwater level.

When burying the animal, the time of year should also be taken into account, which in turn depends on the time of death. Anyone who wants to lift at least 50 cm of earth in winter has a really hard fight for a small animal. If you still want to bury the animal in your own garden, then temporary storage can be the solution. Maybe your vet offers the possibility to keep the body chilled until spring? It's best to ask.

Danger: Please make sure that other animals cannot ransack the grave. There have already been cases in which the house dog dug up and ate the euthanized bird unnoticed, which led to an (initially) inexplicable loss of consciousness due to the medication it contained. Such cases can also be fatal for pets and wild animals.

Carcass disposal

It is possible to leave the animal at the vet after it has been euthanized or to hand it in there if it has died at home. This cools the body in order to collect it with other carcasses and bring it to the carcass disposal facility or have it picked up. You also have the option of bringing the animal body there yourself, but we would rather advise against this to protect your nerves. The costs for this often depend on the size or weight of the animal and are usually less than 50 euros.

Autopsy in animal pathology

If the cause of death is unclear, it can make sense to have the carcass autopsied. This can be particularly useful if there are other animals in the household. If, for example, it is a contagious disease, then the other animals can be treated in good time and thus saved from the same fate. For some pet owners, it also helps to be clear about the cause of death of their beloved pet in order to cope better with death.

Your vet will definitely know where the nearest animal pathology is, otherwise a search engine on the Internet is sure to help. The prices fluctuate strongly within Germany. A surrender of the examined animal carcass to the keeper is not allowed due to disease law regulations. However, if a subsequent cremation is desired, this can often be done through the desired undertaker.

Cremation in the animal crematorium

As with humans, animals can also be cremated in special animal crematoria. The deceased animal will be picked up from the vet or from your home.
A decision is usually made between simple cremation, in which several animals are cremated and buried together, and individual cremation. The animal owner can decide for himself what happens to the animal's ashes after an individual cremation. The possibilities are diverse, scattering the ashes on the animal's favorite meadow is just as possible as making a "diamond" or keeping it in an urn. The costs for this depend on the type of cremation, the size of the animal and how the ashes are stored (urn, picture frame ...). Your vet usually has a regional animal crematorium with which he works.

A grave in the pet cemetery

In some places in Germany (mostly in larger cities) there are special animal cemeteries. From the cheaper anonymous burial to the double grave to the single burial, there are various options. The prices are usually based on a lease of several years. If this is an option, clarify beforehand whether there is even a pet cemetery in your area.

Household garbage

Smaller animals such as budgies, mice and hamsters can be "disposed of" in a plastic bag with household waste. The prerequisite for this is that the health of humans and animals is not endangered by pathogens of communicable diseases or toxic substances. Dogs and cats must therefore not be disposed of with household waste. Please inform yourself about this at your municipality, as there are also different regulations here.


Ultimately, it's important that you are comfortable with the way you say goodbye to your pet. Do not let other people influence you. Perhaps because of the sometimes high costs, you are forced to make a decision that you are less comfortable with. It may help you, as I did during my training as a veterinary assistant, that it is “only” the body of the animal. Your animal no longer suffers and does not hold it against you for the decision you have made. Much more important is that your pet has definitely had a great life by your side.

I wish you that you still have a lot of time with your darling and that you only have to decide on one of the above options in the distant future.


Law on the disposal of animal carcasses, parts of animal carcases and animal products (Animal Body Disposal Act - TierKBG)

© Kathrin Brenner, Marketing Coordinator, AniCura DACH