How Long Does It Take for a Dead Dog To Decompose

logo by Editorial Staff | Posted on November 24th, 2022

No one likes to think about their dog dying, but it’s important to be prepared for everything. The answer may surprise you if you’re wondering how long it takes for a dead dog to decompose. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this topic.

How Long Does It Take for a Dead Dog To Decompose

A dog buried underground may decompose completely for as early as 6 months. At the same time, some may take up to 18 years or more. It will depend on the environment and how deep the dog is buried. If a dog is exposed and not buried, it will decompose much more quickly. It takes an average of 3-6 months for a dog to decompose when left above ground/

Deep dirt hole in ground or lawn

Why Shouldn’t You Bury Your Pet in the Backyard?

Backyard burial may seem like the easiest way to respectfully take care of your pet’s remains; however, it can be dangerous. Here are a few reasons why you should not choose this:

  1. It’s hard and stinks: Dig a hole in your yard to bury them. This isn’t easy. As the body decomposes, it will emit an unpleasant odor if superficially buried.
  2. Bugs and other creatures can hide on your pet: If your pet decomposes outside, it won’t have a decent resting place. Their remnants provide shelter for bugs and animals during the winter.
  3. Diseases and hazardous organisms may infect you.: If your pet has Parvovirus, the germs can live in the soil for nine years. Burying your pet in the backyard might make you, your family, and other animals sick. Dogs dig holes and may rapidly find the remains. Unvaccinated pets, especially dogs, can catch this. It’s deadly and awful. If you decide later not to bury them, exhuming them might offer health hazards. Bacteria from their rotting body may enter your home.
  4. It’s toxic: Animal burial causes water pollution and soil erosion. What starts as a nice gesture might be bad for Mother Nature.
  5. Euthanasia drugs can poison animals: Vets and healthcare experts put dogs to sleep using a highly concentrated anesthetic, resulting in a peaceful death. Pentobarbital remains in a buried body for a year. The euthanasia solution poisons scavenging animals.

Will a Dog Smell if Buried?

Sometimes, a buried dog may smell for up to 9 days or even 6 months, depending on its decomposition rate. So, the foul odor from a dead dog may not be noticeable until several days or weeks after it has died. The smell will be more pronounced if the day is hot and humid.

Stages of Decomposition of a Dog

  1. Fresh: After death, an animal’s body decomposes. Body chemicals will drive this period. Their cells will deteriorate one by one. Enzymes further degrade their tissues. Their blood will likewise pool where they’re resting. Head, stomach, or back. This may take 3 days after death. Once this starts, flies will be drawn to them. And they’ll lay eggs. Before this happens, store or bury your dog.
  2. Bloat: Second-stage decomposition bloats your dog. The body swells 4 to 10 days after death. Then stink. Bacteria degrade tissues after enzymes. Byproducts include fluids. Creating gas. These cause the stench. Attract insects and animals.
  3. Degradation: After 10 to 20 days, this phase begins. Their bloated body will shrink. The stench will be weaker because it’s almost empty. The soil will absorb them. This reduces the odor. The carcass will have maggots or legless flies. They eat body meat.
  4. Deterioration: At this point, they’re skeletal. Hair and bones. Mold may also grow on sections that touch the ground. The grass around them may be dry. 20-50 days after death. The remains smell like rotten milk. Butyric acid causes this. Inviting other creatures.
  5. Dry decay: At this point, just dried bones will remain. Start with fur and dry skin. Bacteria and tineid moths will eventually degrade them. Slow degradation will occur. Depending on the variables, it might take a year.

The Factors that Affect Decomposition

A dog buried underground may decompose completely for as early as 6 months. While some may take up to 18 years or more. It will depend

  • Temperature influences decomposition. Climate is important because heat accelerates decomposition. Too cold or dry slows or stops it. Warmth activates bacteria and insects. So carcasses will decompose faster.
  • Coffin/wrapping material: A corpse in contact with the earth decomposes faster, suggests research. A coffin or cloth will slow it down. Material is another concern. Wooden coffins biodegrade quickly. It’s the opposite if the body is encased with plastic. This substance takes 20-500 years to degrade.
  • Grave depth: Deeper = slower bodily deterioration. Low temperature and oxygen produce this. Cold temperature hinders microorganisms. Less oxygen slows their development. Together, they’ll slow degradation.
  • Soil: Geology is another aspect. It depends on the kind, pH, and moisture. Sand speeds up the process. Clay slows it down. The second is denser and more compact. It’ll hinder airflow. Limits bacterial growth.
  • pH:  Acidity can slow decomposition. Under 6.0 pH, bacteria activity decreases, according to experts. These microbes degrade bodily tissues. Stopping them will take time.
  • Humidity: Earth’s type affects more than just speed. But also water. Moisture levels normalize the process. Too high causes poor oxygen. Water prevents gas exchange.
  • Body mass affects decomposition: Size also affects how quickly they degrade. Body mass plays a role, says one research. Smaller bodies deteriorate faster than larger ones. Because it’s smaller, a little dog will break down easier than a huge breed.

How Long Does It Take for a Dead Dog To Stop Smelling?

It takes one to two days for a dead dog to decompose and give off a foul odor. This is because their body starts to break down immediately after death, and enzymes build up. If the dog is buried deep in the ground, it can take up to six months to eighteen years for its body to fully decompose.

How Deep Do You Have To Bury a Dog, so It Doesn’t Smell?

Make sure to have two feet of soil on top of the body. You want the grave deep enough so other animals cannot smell the pet’s scent. If the scent is potent, it is natural for other animals to dig into the grave.

Is It Better To Bury a Dog in a Bag or Not?

It is not recommended to bury your dog in a plastic bag; this will only slow the natural decaying process. This can harm the environment and does not protect against decomposition. A better option would be to wrap your pet in a towel, blanket, or other biodegradable material. You could also consider cremation a more practical option, especially if you have a large dog or live in an apartment.


A dog’s body will start to decompose right after death. In warm weather, the process can take as little as 6 months. If the dog is buried deep in the ground, it can take up to 18 years for the body to decompose completely.


Editorial Staff

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