How Much Does a Dog Autopsy Cost?

Written by: Staff

After your dog has passed away, you may be wondering what actually caused its death or if there could have been anything you have done.

A pet autopsy, commonly referred to as a necropsy, could be helpful to help you determine the cause of your pet’s death.  It could also be recommended if your veterinarian asks for your permission since they have a scientific interest in observing the results.

How much does an autopsy cost for a dog?

Necropsies can be expensive, especially if it’s being done for legal reasons.  Depending on who’s performing the test and how many tests need to be performed, the costs can be as little as $100 to more than $1,200.   After your dog’s death, if your veterinarian doesn’t offer an autopsy, it could be done for a few reasons.  For starters, some veterinarians are uncomfortable with the process as some don’t feel comfortable diagnosing a certain disease as they don’t have the proper training.  Some may even shy away from it as they feel it won’t shed much light on the situation, which, in turn, could cause more grief and unnecessary money being spent.  If you do recommend one, there’s a good chance they will refer you to a certified pathologist.

If the vet performs just a visual inspection, with no lab tests, then the average cost will be $100 to $250, on average.

Dr. Gen B. on said the costs could depend a lot on what the vet needs to look out for and the suspected cause of death.  A visual inspection, for example, could take 30 to 120 minutes to perform and could cost $90 to $300, depending on how long it takes.  In other cases, if tissue or fluids need to be surgically obtained and sampled, then the costs could increase.

Dog autopsy overview

Known as a “necropsy” in the animal world, this procedure, performed by a certified veterinary pathologist, will be similar to that of a human autopsy.  Your pet will be opened up and explored in a routine manner if the visual results don’t produce any results.  In most cases, tissue samples will be sent off to a lab to be inspected under a microscope and the internal organs will be examined for any diseases and/or injuries.  After the results, the lab will provide you with the findings, which will be discussed with your veterinarian in the future as the lab results will contain many confusing technical terms.

What are the extra costs?

Most veterinarians will start with a visual inspection to determine the exact cause of death.   If the visual inspection yields on results, then he or she may want to collect tissue or fluid samples to send off to the lab for further testing to see if any toxic substances were present, for example.  If this were the case, then these lab tests could add hundreds to the estimates mentioned above.

Tips to know:

Sometimes, if you were to use your veterinarian for euthanasia, you may be agreeing to a necropsy as well, according to Dr. Patty Khuly on  If you don’t want one, always refer to the fine print before signing paperwork.

If you do decide on an autopsy, do so immediately as every passing hour can hurt the testing process.

How can I save money?

Don’t hesitate to ask your vet’s office ahead of time as most reputable offices can offer an itemized bill before you commit to the charges.

A good vet will always tell you if an autopsy is worth it.  Most of the time, a vet will be able to tell you the reason why your dog passed away, but even if there are some question marks, the autopsy, even if performed, may not provide concrete results.  If at all possible, try to get one to two opinions to see what your best options are for both your wallet and questions.

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