To better appreciate how much a dog's necropsy costs it helps to first attain a better insight into the procedure and what it involves.
Not all necropsies are created the same. Depending on each individual case, it may be a simple and straightforward ordeal or a very complicated and involved process.
Of course, the more involved the procedure the more the costs will add up.
While a dog necropsy is not necessary for every case, it is always beneficial to have the results of one. Not only can it help ease your mind, but it can also help prevent future deaths of your other present or future pets by identifying the cause of the illness.
A necropsy can also help veterinarians learn more about particular diseases so that future treatments can be more effective.
Not to mention, it can help prevent other pets from dying if your dog has suffered a lethal side effect from some medication.
What Happens During a Dog's Necropsy?
A veterinary pathologist usually performs a dog necropsy, the same as a human autopsy. These specialists have obtained specialized training and have lots of experience so they can perform necropsies more thoroughly.
Dog necropsies are often performed for two main reasons: to gain vital information about the dog's health and ultimately providing more info about the cause of death.
A dog necropsy involves two main procedures; 1) a physical evaluation grossly carried out through examination with the eyes, and 2) an examination carried out microscopically by sending various samples to histopathology.
Histopathology evaluates the tissues' structure and cells under a microscope to gain more information.
The final necropsy report sums up the gross findings and histopathological findings. This report is typically returned to the submitter within 15 to 20 business days, however, turnaround times may vary from one place and another.
My Dog Has Been Buried For Some Time Can a Necropsy Still be Done?
Sadly, unless burial took place very recently, and the body has been sealed in a non-biodegradable coffin, it would be impossible to carry out a necropsy at this point, unless foul play is suspected and we're looking for obvious things such as bone damage.
Ideally a dog's necropsy should be carried out within 2-3 days from time of death and the body must be kept refrigerated in the meanwhile to successfully preserve it. A buried body will likely be too decomposed to provide answers by this time.
If your dog has passed away and is now buried, and you still have lingering questions that keep you awake at night, consult with your vet.
Depending on what's at stake, it may still be possible to shoot some post-mortem x-rays to check on some basic things like the state of the dog's bones.
How Long After Death can a Necropsy be Performed on a Dog?
A necropsy on a dog should be carried out as soon as possible. This is because right after death, a dog's tissues start to breakdown, a process known as autolysis.
Ask the Vet: Is My Dog Done Giving Birth?
Whether your dog is done giving birth or not can be challenging to tell considering that it's not unusual for pregnant dogs to take their sweet time in delivering their babies. This is not really a time though for guessing, considering that not all deliveries go as planned.
The more times passes, the more difficult it becomes to identify structures. If the body can't be refrigerated, the procedure would therefore need to be carried out urgently before the gut bacteria starts to digest the tissues and post mortem alterations occur.
While it's true that in human forensics, it is possible to gain some answers even years after death courtesy of very sophisticated techniques, this is a very long and expensive process that isn't commonly carried out for pet animals.
It's important to point out a dog's body should be kept as fresh as possible until the procedure is carried out, ideally through refrigeration.
However, in some cases it is still possible to carry out a preliminary necropsy on a dog's frozen body once thawed, as long as the tissues haven't had a chance to deteriorate.
How Much Does a Dog's Necropsy Cost?
The costs for a dog's necropsy may vary based on several factors such as location, what the vet needs to look for and the length of the procedure.
The procedure may take anywhere between half hour to over 2 hours depending on how quickly the veterinarian can pinpoint the cause of death.
The cost of a dog's necropsy may be between $300 and $500. The higher end pricing is often reserved to cases where the vet may need to send tissue samples to a laboratory for microscopic examination or to check for toxic substances.
The best option to have an accurate price is to call around vet offices and obtain some rough estimates.
While necropsies are not cheap, they are worth it if they reveal vital information about the cause of your dog's death and other relevant information, however, a dog necropsy does not always guarantee definitive answers to a dog owners' questions.
What if Multiple Dogs Have Died?
You may be concerned about costs if several of your dogs have died and you desperately want an answer.
The good news is that, in such a case, you may obtain answers by having just one dog undergo the necropsy. The ideal dog to examine would be the last one to die so to provide the freshest sample.
When multiple dogs die like this, the top suspicions are ingestion of some type of toxin such as blue green algae and antifreeze or from someone purposely poisoning them.
How Long Does it Take to Have Results on a Dog's Necropsy?
It can take about 72 hours to receive a dog's necropsy report, although it may take much longer when tissues are sent out for further evaluation.
The pathologist should be able to provide info as to how long it may take and should keep updated should it take longer than usual to get the results.
Where Can You Have a Dog Necropsy Done?
In general, the ideal place to have a thorough necropsy of a dog's body done is at a veterinary school.
If no school is nearby, it may be possible to check out regular vets and see if they would be willing to perform the necropsy and send tissue samples preserved in formaldehyde out to a veterinary pathology lab.