Autopsy Service

What is an autopsy?

An autopsy (also known as necropsy) 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.

All autopsies are supervised by specialists in veterinary pathology. Specialization in veterinary pathology requires a minimum of three years of post-graduate veterinary training followed by rigorous examination and board certification by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

During the autopsy process, the animal will be examined thoroughly externally. Following the external evaluation, all major organ systems will be evaluated with the naked eye (referred to as a gross examination). The gross examination will performed by a senior veterinary student under the supervision of a veterinary pathology resident (a graduate veterinarian training in veterinary pathology) and the faculty pathologist. A preliminary autopsy report will be generated from the observations of the gross evaluation. During the gross examination, all major organ systems will be sampled, stored in a preservative and in most cases, processed into glass slides that will allow the microscopic evaluation of the tissues. A final autopsy report will be generated from the changes observed in the glass slides in addition to the initial gross observations made.

Autopsy reports are written in a technical language and are best interpreted by a veterinarian. A preliminary report will be emailed to the licensed referring veterinarian who signed the autopsy form, in approximately 48 hours (2 business days). The final autopsy report will be emailed to the veterinarian in approximately 3 to 4 weeks.

After Care

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 Ohio State veterinary healthcare team. Verify that your request is properly documented before your animal’s autopsy.. 

If you are planning to have your animal’s remains privately cremated, we have resources available for you.

A step-by-step resource guide for arranging your animal’s cremation is available upon request at The Veterinary Medical Center Hospital for Companion Animal front desk.  

Submission form, cost and drop-off times:

  • All autopsy submissions must be accompanied by an autopsy request submission form. Please note that the submission form must be signed by a licensed referring veterinarian prior to submission.
  • For animals not seen at the Ohio State University-Veterinary Medical Center within the last 90 days, please refer to the following fee schedule :

Fee Schedule


Fee (per animal)



Canine/Feline and Other <125lbs




Farm Animal >125lbs


Bovine, Camelid, Caprine, Ovine, Porcine




Equine >125lbs





Wildlife species can be applied to any of the above categories based on weight and similar comparable species




Additional Fees

 Animal After Hours Drop-Offs*

for any drop-offs outside the following hours:

M-F 8am-4pm, Saturday 8am-12pm

(No Sundays or holidays)

Animals over 125 lbs CANNOT be accepted after hours due to facility and staffing limitations


Forensic/Insurance Cases



Included in autopsy price. Disposal only submissions will not be accepted.

Ancillary Diagnostic Testing (Toxicology, Virology, Microbiology)

Ancillary diagnostic testing is not included in the autopsy and will incur additional testing depending on the nature of the test.

*Please note that while there is no charge for the autopsy of an animal that has been a patient at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center within the last 90 days, fees will be incurred for aftercare of the remains ($25 for small animal communal cremation; $50 for large animal disposal).

Ancillary Diagnostic Testing

Additional ancillary diagnostic testing can be performed from tissues obtained during an autopsy. These tests include assays to detect the presence of viruses, bacteria and certain toxins. Pursuing additional testing may be an option after consultation with the attending pathologist and resident assigned to the case. Additional fees will apply for any additional diagnostic testing.