Post-mortem services

The Anatomic Pathology Group provides a full post-mortem service for all animal species to veterinary clinics throughout Victoria in our custom-designed and built necropsy facility.

What is a post-mortem?

A post-mortem occurs in two stages:

1. Gross examination

A thorough examination of your pet’s major body systems including heart, lungs, liver, etc.

2. Histological examination

A microscopic examination of tissue samples that require further investigation.

A full report is created and typically completed within three weeks, although investigation of complex cases or some specific types of disease (such as bone disease) may take longer.

On rare occasions, some pets die without significant tissue changes and the cause of death can not be determined. This can occur with some cases of anaesthetic death, metabolic diseases and some toxicities.

Our post-mortem services

The Anatomic Pathology Group at the University of Melbourne Veterinary School provides a full post-mortem service for all animal species to veterinary clinics throughout Victoria.

Opening hours and storage

Our post-mortem service receives bodies 9am–3pm on weekdays.

Out of these times, bodies are best stored refrigerated until they can be delivered. Bodies can be frozen if they can not be delivered within 24-48 hours however this does create significant tissue artifact making assessment more difficult for the pathologist and will prolong the post-mortem interval as the body must be defrosted prior to the post-mortem.

The Veterinary Pathology drop-off is a simple drive from the campus's Gate 1 entrance.

Dropping off a body

To drop off a body, please enter the University of Melbourne's Werribee campus at Gate 1, 250 Princes Highway (GPS coordinates -37.887706, 144.694116).

Then, keep right at the bend and follow the road to Building 411. The Veterinary Pathology drop-off should be right across from where the road ends.

Please note: the Anatomic Pathology group no longer accept pets directly from pet owners – all deceased pets will need to be submitted for post-mortem services by a veterinary clinic.


Our post-mortem fees routinely include gross pathology and histopathology. Where it is deemed relevant, we do submit samples from post-mortem cases for additional testing such as bacterial culture, snake bite testing or rat bait testing. These tests are not covered under the post-mortem fee and will incur an additional cost; the billing for these tests will be forwarded to the referring vet from the testing laboratory.

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

Contacting us

To request a post-mortem, download, fill out and send us a Veterinary pathology request form (PDF 216.3 KB).

If you have any questions, contact the team on the information below:

Frequently asked questions

  • 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 three 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.