Can You Bury Your Dog in the Backyard?

can you bury your dog in the backyard

Losing a dog is a truly distressing event that comes with its fair share of concerns — like whether your backyard can be your dog’s final resting place. If you’re unsure whether laying your dog to rest in the yard is okay, this post is for you.

So, can you bury your dog in the backyard? 

Yes, you can bury your dog in the yard if it’s legal to do so in your area. But you must adhere to all the pet backyard burial guidelines in place. And even if it’s legal, laying your dog to rest in the yard isn’t a great idea due to the many risks involved.

Continue reading to discover more about the legal aspect of pet backyard burials, including what rules you must follow. I’ll also talk about the risk of burying your dog in the backyard and why it’s wise to consider other options.

Thinking of burying your dog in the yard? Here’s what you should know first   

We all think of dogs as more than just mere pets we own. 

They are special members of our families who enrich our lives in many ways. When death strikes, most dog owners often consider the backyard as the perfect spot to give their dog a befitting send-off. 

Besides backyard burials being convenient and economical, it’s comforting to bury them in a place they once loved and feel their presence nearby.

If you wish to bury your dog in the yard, the main thing that will determine whether you can or can’t is what the laws in your area say. 

But is it the safest choice, though? Not at all. I’ll get to this in a bit.

The legality of burying your dog in the backyard

In some places, laying your dog to rest in the yard is unlawful since it endangers public health. 

Los Angeles, for instance, has a law stating that it’s illegal for anyone to bury an animal anywhere else other than in an established cemetery (or cremation, for pet owners)

The good news, most municipalities have no laws against burying your dog in the backyard. 

You can check with your local animal control authorities or consult your vet to know whether it’s legally okay to lay your dog to rest in the yard.

And even if it’s acceptable in your area, there are strict rules and guidelines that you must follow. These rules exist to safeguard public health and the environment. 

These are also put in place because most utility lines run underground, and you can accidentally hit one when digging your dog’s burial site. 

The last thing you’d want during this grieving period is to get in trouble with your local utility regulators for causing utility system damage.

Some of the common rules and guidelines for pet yard burials include:

  • The grave site must be at least three feet deep to prevent the possibility of other pets or animals scavenging your dog’s body. Here’s why you need to dig that deep in more detail… your yard shouldn’t be near a water source.
  • Once you bury your dog, you should cover their remains using about two feet of soil.  
  • You must confirm that there are no utility lines passing through your backyard. Usually, the authorities you engage regarding your burial plans make arrangements for utility system checks in your yard, so you’d know the safest spot for your dog’s grave.
  • You can only bury your dog in the yard if you own the land. If you’ve rented, there’s little chance you’ll be allowed to do so — especially if your landlord doesn’t consent.
  • Your yard shouldn’t be prone to flooding. If you still bury your dog knowing your yard has flooding issues, their remains may resurface.  

Another thing you need to know is that if you opt to bury your dog in the yard, you should do so sooner than later. Most local regulations say this must be done within 24 to 48 hours after your dog’s passing. 

But if you can lay your dog to rest a few hours after they pass, the better. A dead dog’s body may start to smell less than 12 hours after their death.

Plus, it’s best to use biodegradable materials to wrap your dog’s body — not plastic bags. 

Things like newspapers, your dog’s favorite blanket, a cardboard box, or a towel work well since they break down much faster than plastic bags.

Why burying your dog in the yard isn’t a great idea

Laying your dog to rest in the yard seems like the perfect send-off. But there are many risks involved for you, your pets, your neighbors and their pets, and other people at large. 

Your beloved dog may also not get a chance to rest peacefully as they deserve. Here’s what’s wrong with dog backyard burials:

The risk of bacterial contamination

It takes several months or even years for a dog’s body to decompose properly. As their body rots, it releases harmful bacteria that contaminate groundwater and the soils around your yard.

You can get seriously sick if you come into contact with these bacteria-filled soils.  

Exhumation is a possibility 

Even when you’ve buried your dog deep in the soil, other pets may get a whiff of the remains thanks to their sharp sense of smell.  Waking up to the exhumed body of your dog isn’t something you’d want to experience.  

The risk of poisoning

If your dog was treated with strong drugs before death — like chemotherapy medications — any animal that scavenges on your dog’s chemical-contaminated body could end up poisoned.

Disease transmission

If your dog of a contagious illness, other pets and wild animals that unearth these remains will contract the disease.

Disturbance by natural disasters

In case of a disaster like heavy floods, some of your dog’s remains may resurface and even be swept over to your neighbor’s property. 

You’ll not only deal with unpleasant odors but also risk getting diseases as flies feeding on the remains find their way into your home.

Second round of heartbreak  

If you bury your dog on rented property and have to move permanently for one reason or another, you may have difficulty coping with the fact that you will never visit your dog’s backyard grave as often as you wish.

Better alternatives to a backyard dog burial 

If burying your dog in the yard isn’t possible due to legal reasons or simply because you don’t feel like dealing with too many local regulations follow-ups during this difficult time, don’t fret. 

There are other ways to memorize your dog’s life, or other things like cremation, burying them in a designated cemetery, or donating their body for research. 

Your vet can guide you on how to go about each of these options.


Cremation allows you to stay with your dog’s ashy remains for as long as you wish or scatter them in your preferred spot. 

You’ll have peace of mind knowing their body won’t be “disturbed” by other animals or heavy rains, as with backyard burials.

Cemetery burial

Burying them in a cemetery is another great option since you’ll be sure your dog will rest peacefully in a secure place without any disturbance.  

And even if you move from your home, you won’t have to worry about not being able to visit your dog’s grave site. You can visit the cemetery whenever you want.

Donating their body 

You can also honor your dog’s life by donating their body to a veterinary research institution.  

Students and researchers will use your dog’s donated remains to study and advance the cause of improving dog health. You’ll be at ease knowing your dog has left behind a meaningful legacy. 

FAQs on burying a dog in your backyard

What’s the best thing to bury a dog in?

As mentioned earlier, you should wrap their body using a biodegradable material like newspapers, a cardboard box, their favorite towel, or a blanket.

How long can I wait before I bury my dog?

It’s best to bury your dog a few hours after they’ve passed on — particularly if you intend to bury them in the yard. 

A dog’s dead body may start to emit a foul smell even before the lapse of 12 hours after death.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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