Q&A: All Dogs Go to Heaven?

All Dogs Go to Heaven?

Question

Are there any references in the Bible about pets going to heaven?

Answer

I'm afraid that the Bible gives us no indication that our deceased pets will be in heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:19-22 does say that there is one fate for both man and animals, but the point of that text is that we are all mortal and therefore that we all die. It is not so much questioning the idea that animals don't go to heaven as it is questioning the idea that people do.

The Bible also uses prophetic imagery that portrays animals in heaven, such as horses in Revelation 6 and 2 Kings 6:17. But these are accommodated descriptions meant to indicate a spiritual reality. It is hard to know whether or not we will perceive them as horses in heaven, or if these were simply metaphoric representations of God's power. In any event, the horses seem to accompany angels, which would indicate that they are not horses who have died and gone to heaven, but who have been around as long as the angels.

My own pets have been primarily dogs and cats, but the Bible also contains no praise for these particular animals: both are considered "unclean," and are not ever portrayed as being in heaven. This is not to say that the Bible doesn't value animals and pets (cf. Jon. 4:11; the only instance of a "pet" in the Bible of which I am aware is in the parable of 2 Sam. 12:1ff.). It is only to say that it does not portray them as worthy of redemption - a blessing for which even the angels do not qualify (Heb. 2:16).

Some have speculated that pets will be in heaven because it would make their owners happy, and heaven is a happy place. I suppose that such speculation is not terribly harmful, as long as it isn't presented as scriptural truth. The speculation does, however, also imply that our unsaved relatives will be in heaven - an idea that is specifically refuted by Scripture - making it not the most helpful way to think.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.