What is a Pet Autopsy?
An autopsy is an examination of a body after death. Information gained from a postmortem exam can be helpful in determining the most likely cause of death, furthering the understanding of disease, and learning how to protect and treat other animals with similar conditions.
There are two types of pet autopsies offered ; cosmetic (available for companion animals only) and complete (available for companion animals and farm animals). The primary purpose of a cosmetic autopsy is to maximize the information gained while minimizing the appearance of a postmortem examination. Because it is more comprehensive, a complete autopsy may provide the best information for determining a cause of death, expanding the current knowledge base to protect remaining or subsequent animals against similar infections, and to better diagnose, treat, and cure disease. Your veterinary health care provider can assist you in choosing the type of autopsy that is best for you and your animal.
If you plan to arrange for the burial or cremation of your animal, you must be sure to communicate that information to a member of the OSU veterinary healthcare team. Verify that your request is properly documented before your animal's autopsy. A communal cremation option is offered for $25 and all arrangements will be made by OSU VMC. If you are planning to have your animal's remains privately cremated, you must contact the cremation service provider directly within 24 hours of your autopsy request. If you are planning to pick up your animal for burial, you must do so within 3 days of your autopsy request. A step-by-step resource guide for arranging your animal's cremation is available upon request at The OSU-VMC Small Animal Reception Desk.
Below is the cost structure for animals not seen at The OSU-VMC within the last 90 days. Payment is due at the time of drop off. Cash, credit card or check payments are accepted. There is no charge if this animal has been a patient at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center within the last 60 days. The fee includes a communal cremation for companion animals and disposal of all other animals.
Autopsy reports are written in a technical language and are designed to be interpreted by a veterinarian. A complete autopsy report will be mailed to your primary veterinary healthcare provider in approximately 4 weeks. If you do not have a primary veterinary healthcare provider the report will be sent directly to the address you provide.
Toxicology and Virology Testing
We do not perform virology or toxicology testing. Veterinarians or owners wanting to request this testing must contact a virology and toxicology testing lab directly. Please note that any tissue to be tested will only be saved for 60 days from the date the autopsy is performed.
Transporting Your Pet to OSU
If you are not a client of the OSU Veterinary Medical Center and/or your pet was not at the hospital at the time of death and you are requesting an autopsy, please contact the Lab Coordinator at 614-247-4795.
Transporting Your Animal to OSU-VMC
If your animal was not at The OSU-VMC at the time of death, please review the following step-by-step instructions:
The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center
Companion Animal Reception Desk
601 Vernon L. Tharp Street
Columbus, Ohio 43210
Pet Autopsy Request/Animal Drop Off Hours
- Monday-Sunday 8:00 a.m.- 12:00 a.m. EST
- Before you bring your animal, please keep the body cool (purchasing bags of ice may be helpful).
- Obtain a brief written summary of your animal's clinical disease from your veterinarian, (or contact your primary veterinary healthcare provider to request that they promptly fax a summary to Goss Lab/Autopsy at 614-292-6473.), before coming to the hospital.
- Contact The OSU-VMC Small Animal Reception Desk (614) 292-3551. Advise the receptionist of the date and time that you will be transporting your pet to the hospital for an autopsy.
- When you arrive at the hospital, please pull up to the front entrance, leave your animal in your car, and check in at the Small Animal Reception Desk. Inform the receptionist that you called ahead and that your animal is being brought to the hospital for an autopsy.
- Complete paperwork.
- Payment for the autopsy service will be collected at this time. Cash, check, and credit card payments are accepted.
- A Small Animal Receptionist will page a hospital representative to meet you at your car and assist with the safe transfer of your animal to our applied pathology services department.
If you, or your primary veterinary healthcare provider, plan to send your animal by mail, please call 614-247-4795 or 614-292-5661 for specific instructions. We can only accept overnight packages Monday through Friday. Our mailing address is:
203 Goss Lab, attn: autopsy, 1925 Coffey Rd. Columbus, OH 43210-1093