Do animals go to Heaven when they die?
When a human dies his death does not mean that he ceases to exist. The physical body dies but the immaterial part will exist forever, either in Heaven or in Hell. But what happens when an animal dies? Is that the end of its existence or does some part of it live on?
The most common belief is that humans continue to exist after death because they have souls and animals don’t. There are two things wrong with this belief.
The first error is the belief that only humans have souls. Here is what Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary says:
Nepes in the Old Testament is never the “immortal soul” but simply the life principle or living being. Such is observable in Genesis 1:20, 21, 24, where the qualified (living) nepes refers to animals and is rendered “living creatures.” The same Hebrew term is then applied to the creation of humankind in Genesis 2:7, where dust is vitalized by the breath of God and becomes a “living being.” Thus, human being shares soul with the animals. It is the breath of God that makes the lifeless dust a “living being” — person.
The second mistake is believing that it is because we have souls that we continue to exist after death. This teaching is not found in the Bible.
Genesis 1 tells how animals and humans were created and shows how they are different. On the fifth day he created flying creatures and all life forms that live in water. On the sixth day he created land animals. After he had finished creating animal life he made the first man.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
The difference between humans and animals is that we are made in God’s image and they are not.
There was no death in God’s original creation. All animals were vegetarians.
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:29,30)
Genesis 3 tells how Adam sinned and brought death into the world, not only for humans but for all animal life. Because of this animals suffer and die through no fault of their own. Many believe that fairness requires that the experience an afterlife to make up for the suffering in this life. That is certainly true of Christians.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17,18)
I agree with this belief that there must be an afterlife for animals but that is only my opinion and it is not specifically taught in the Bible. There is one thing we can know for sure. Animals cannot sin because God has not given them a knowledge of right and wrong so they will not be punished after they die. We don’t know whether they will be in Heaven but we can be certain that none of them will go to Hell.