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NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience:  30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
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How long does it take for a small dead dog to decompose

Customer Question

I want to bury my 12 lb dog that died and then after she decomposes, dig up her bones and put them in an urn. How long will this take? How long do I wait to dig up bones? Need this in a hurry. I don't want to cremate her.
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
It depends on the soil and weather conditions and insect activity etc.
The bones will still have an odor even if the flesh is gone so you would have to dry them thoroughly too and perhaps bleach them.
I would consider waiting a year or if the ground freezes in your area checking on the level of decomposition before the first frost. If the soil in your area is moist and there is lots of insect activity you could check in a couple of months but there is likely still to be tissue, fur, tendons etc to deal with.
Museums sometimes use a type of beetle to deflesh bones but those are very strictly controled organisms.
Cremation really is a more sanitary method of dealing with this.
Hope this helps you!
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: I live in NY. The ground is soft now b/c of all the rain.I was going to just put her in a wooden box, but with no seals so not to delay decomposition. I don't like to idea of burning my girl. We have a brook several yards away so we do have bugs. But also have a child with cancer so can't take a chance of bad things coming from the dog in the ground. I thought if I buried her 4 or 5 feet in, and then waited, I could dig her bones up and put them in an urn.But I don't know if this is feasible or not, or if it would not be good for my daughter, or what. I'm having a nervous breakdown about this. I don't know what to do. What if we move at some point? I WON"T leave her here either if we're not. We're not planning on going anywhere but I don't know. I just don't want her burned up. What do you recommmend?
Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
I would recommend using a sealable casket to bury her and then if you move you can bring up the casket and take that with you. For example here is a company that sells them
or here
And check to see as some Pet supply stores sometimes have them available.
Or you can choose to use a pet cemetary. This one looks like it is in a town about half an hour from you.
Or you can bury the dog and put up a nice monument perhaps a stone
over the area and then if you move take the monument as a remembrance and know that she is a part of the yard in the home she loved.

I'm sorry I didn't express my sympathy on your loss before - you and your family may find some comfort at and in the story of the rainbow bridge.
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
this is not helpful.
Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
I'm sorry you didn't find the options helpful.
If you bury the dog at the depth you said it may take a very long time for it to decompose.
Quickest decomposition would be if you left the body exposed to insects, birds, and other scavengers.
Slowest to decompose will be bones, tendons, cartilage, skin and fur. The bones will be unlikely to be clean and sterile when you dig them up again but will need processing perhaps with cleaning and bleaching to be suitable to go in a container.