Can I bury my pet at home?

If you do not want to get your pet cremated then it may be possible to bury them at home. However there are some rules about this that you need to be aware of.

Can any pet be buried?
In theory yes as long as they are not a hazard to health. If the animal is considered a threat to human health they will have to be cremated. This is very rare.

Where can I bury my pet?
Officially your pet can only be buried in the property that it lived in or in a licensed pet cemetery. You can’t bury them in a relative or friend’s garden or in a public space for example. Obviously the size of the pet will also dictate this, burial options for a rabbit and a horse for example are quite different.

How do I go about burying a pet at home?
Practicalities to consider are where are you going to bury them? How are you going to dig the hole? Do you want any memorial stone or tree for example?

For small animals it is recommended to have two feet of heavy soil over the body and three feet in lighter soil. You need to be sure that scavengers are not going to try and dig them up. Don’t underestimate how hard it is to dig a large deep hole and consider your own health and welfare when deciding whether to do it yourself or to get someone to do it for you. For large animals such as horses it is likely to be necessary to use equipment both to dig the hole and to move the body in to the hole (See below for more information about burying horses).

You may like to wrap your pet in something before placing them in the ground. Something made of natural material will break down over time and not pollute the ground. You might like to put some flowers in the grave or scatter some petals with them. Children might like to put in drawings or a letter to their pet. You might like to say a few words or even have a little ceremony at the graveside for them.

Rules for burying horses
Horses may be buried at home provided:
• The burial site is at least 250m from any well, borehole or spring that supplies water for human consumption or water for use in dairies.
• In England and Wales the site must be at least 30m from any other spring or watercourse, and at least 10m from any field drain
• There must be at least 1m of soil below the bottom of any burial pit, allowing a hole deep enough for at least 1m of soil to cover the body.
• There must be no standing water at the bottom of the hole when you first dig it.
• The hole may not be left open.
• The burial site must be out of Source Protection Zone 1 – There is a link to an interactive map showing the source protection zones on the Environment Agency website For further advice you should consult with your local Environment Agency

What if you move house?
Do consider before you decide to bury your pet at home that if you move house, you will likely be leaving them there. If you want to take your pet with you in future, do consider cremation instead and taking the ashes with you.