Post-mortem services

Post-mortem examination is a diagnostic technique used to detect disease in deceased animals.

It occurs in two stages; the first step is a gross examination (a thorough examination of your pet’s major body systems including heart, lungs, liver etc.). This is followed by microscopic examination of tissue samples that require further investigation (histological examination). A full report is created and typically completed within two weeks, although investigation of complex cases or some specific types of disease (such as bone disease) may take longer. More information can be found in the attached document.

Post-mortem fees routinely include gross pathology and histopathology. Depending on the nature of disease, further investigation such as microbiology or toxicology may be required to reach a definitive diagnosis – any additional costs will be discussed with clients prior to supplementary tests being undertaken.

Post-mortem services are available for a range of dogs, cats, horses, livestock, birds, reptiles, wildlife and zoo animals. We have the capacity to perform necropsies on a broad range of small and large animals in our custom designed and built necropsy facility.

To discuss the post-mortem process or fees, please contact us:

Information about post-mortem examinations

  • What is a post-mortem examination?

    A post-mortem examination is a diagnostic technique used to detect disease in deceased animals. It occurs in two stages; the first step is a gross examination (a thorough examination of all of your pet’s major body systems including heart, lungs, liver etc.). This is followed by microscopic examination of tissue samples that require further investigation (histological examination). Additional tests may be performed on the tissues in some circumstances (e.g. suspicion of infectious diseases), but note that these tests incur additional costs and so are not run without prior approval.

  • What are the limitations of post-mortem examination?

    For detection of disease at post-mortem, there must be visible changes to tissue (termed lesions), and not all disease processes will produce such changes. In particular, some metabolic diseases, intoxications and causes of sudden death may not produce any lesions at all. A few examples of diseases that may not produce detectable lesions include acute heart failure, heat stroke, severe allergic (anaphylactic) reactions, shock, snake envenomation, and electrolyte imbalances (e.g. hypocalcaemia).

    Post-mortem examination is ideally performed as soon as the patient is deceased, or as soon as practicable. Delays in examination may make some changes difficult to detect or interpret. Refrigeration or storage in a cool room is beneficial if the examination is likely to be delayed for a short period (24 hours), but freezing is not recommended unless the body cannot be submitted for several days, as the freezing process can cause significant tissue damage.

  • When will I receive the findings?

    Post-mortem reports are typically completed within 2 weeks, but investigation of complex cases or some specific types of disease (such as bone disease) may take longer. A full report of the findings will be sent to your veterinarian; in cases where you do not have a veterinarian or do not wish them to be involved, the pathologist will contact you directly to discuss the findings (please advise if this is the case at the time of submission). Please note that while the pathologists are able to discuss the post-mortem findings with you, they will not provide advice on treatment or management of diseases.

  • What happens to the body following post-mortem examination?

    Due to quarantine restrictions, we are unable to release the body for home burial following a post-mortem examination. You may arrange with a crematorium to collect the body directly from us if you wish to have your pet’s ashes returned, but anticipate that cremation will be delayed for about two weeks to allow time for a full investigation.