The vast majority of people in the five boroughs of NYC (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Queens) as well as Long Island and Westchester choose to have their pets cremated or aquamated after natural death or home euthanasia. Cremation and aquamation are respectful, dignified, and safe. Ashes are also mobile: you can take them with you if you move.

Occasionally, we have clients interested in burying their pets. Burial is a beautiful and natural way to honor your pet, but it is more complicated than cremation or aquamation, and there are some important things to consider if you are thinking of burial.

First, you need to find an appropriate and legal place to bury your pet. Check with local regulations to ensure you are following the law. As of this writing it is legal to bury your pet in New York City.

Second, the pet needs to be buried AT LEAST 3-4 feet deep so that other animals cannot access them. Patients euthanized with euthanasia solution, if ingested by wild or domestic animals, can cause toxicity and death in the ingesting animal (secondary toxicosis). Cremation/aquamation 100% prevent the possibility of secondary toxicosis. Immediate deep burial of at least 3-4 feet, when performed correctly, can also prevent access by scavenging animals.

This is a serious matter. There have been cases of protected species, including bald eagles, dying from ingesting animals that were not buried deeply enough. There have also been cases of domestic dogs and cats dying from ingesting pets not buried deeply enough. Dogs especially have excellent senses of smell and can dig quite effectively when motivated. 

I highly recommend this article by the US Fish and Wildlife service:

The time of year is also important to consider. In the winter months the ground can be frozen,  preventing burial. If your pet passes away in the colder months, you will need to find a safe place to store them that prevents access by scavengers and prevents leeching of euthanasia solution and other liquids into the environment. Pets being stored until burial should be kept in a watertight container (so no euthanasia solution can seep out) and kept prozen until burial can be performed. 

Another option is to have a third party pet cemetery handle the burial. Two local pet cemeteries we recommend are Bideawee Pet Memorial Parks and Hartsdale Pet Cemetery. The main disadvantage to using a pet cemetery is cost: as of the writing of this blog post, the cost of burying a pet at a pet cemetery in the NYC area starts at about two thousand dollars. However, if you can afford it, it is a wonderful option to consider. 

A final thing to consider is what to bury your pet in. We love the beautifully handcrafted Sweet Goodbye biodegradable soft pet caskets. They come in two types: gorgeous Cocoons made from premium wool for most dogs and cats, and the cozy Cloud for cats and smaller pets. All Sweet Goodbye products are beautiful, eco-friendly, and come in a variety of sizes and a rainbow of attractive colors. To get 10% off of Sweet Goodbye products visit and use code PAWS10 at checkout.

One last thing on quality of life assessment: it is STILL important – because it helps us determine where on this graph we are – but rather than numeric scales, I prefer a more holistic approach. Briefly consider a few important aspects of their happiness: did they eat? Did they play? Are they in pain? Do they seem happy? Are they hiding/isolating? Then combine all these questions in your head together and decide: was the day joyful? When we are starting to see a lot of days without much joy, it’s probably time.

(Note: there are certain disorders that do not have this classic slow deterioration such as heart failure, seizure disorders, cancers that cause internal bleeding, that do not exhibit this slow downward trajectory. In these cases there are often periods of total normality punctuated by periods of intense suffering. I will address these conditions in future blog posts/videos. Decision making can be especially hard in these cases.)

I hope this post helps some people think through some of these terrible decisions. But I truly do believe, when we think of the end of life as a beautiful celebration, it can be truly wonderful for our pets.

If you are in the 5 boroughs of NYC (Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten island) or Westchester (south of White Plains) and are grappling with these difficult decisions, we offer free consultations with our doctors and nurses who are standing by. If you’re hurting – reach out!