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Understanding The Pet Cremation Process

Our furry, feathery, or scaly animal friends mean the world to us. We love our pets as much, if not more, than the humans in our life. Your pet holds a special place in your heart. They are with you through the good and bad times, and they always greet you with unconditional love.

When we lose our pets, it leaves a hole in our heart that can never be replaced. Saying goodbye to our animal friends is difficult. We want to pay our respects and honor our deceased pets in the best way possible. Pet cremation gives us the option to say goodbye to our pets while keeping part of them with us forever. 

Preparing Ahead

Letting go of our beloved furry friends is never easy. The grieving process will be difficult, and you’ll need time to heal from your loss. Though it may be hard to think about, planning for your pet’s death will save you from unnecessary stress. By dealing with the details of your pet’s passing now, you will be able to better handle your grief when the time comes. 

Talk to your family and vet about what needs to happen before and after your pet passes. Some things to think about include:

WHERE WILL YOUR PET PASS?

Although when your pet passes is sometimes out of your hands, it’s worth planning if you can. Depending on your pet’s health condition, it may be more feasible for them to pass at home, or at the vet, or vice versa.  Where they pass will determine what plans you need to make next.

If they pass at home, how will you transport their body to their final resting place? If they pass at the vet’s office, will your vet hold their body until you can make arrangements for their transport? 


WILL YOU BURY OR CREMATE YOUR PET?

You will need to decide on how you will lay your pet to rest once they pass. If you bury your pet, where will you bury them? In your backyard? In a forest? In a pet cemetery? Consider what you will need to create a burial grave for your pet. Make sure you have the proper tools to dig the grave as well as a headstone or pet grave marker. 

If you choose to cremate your pet, you will need to make the proper arrangements. Consider where you will cremate your pet and how your pet will be transported there. Make these arrangements ahead of time.

If you cremate your pet, you must also decide what you will do with your pet’s ashes. Will you keep them, scatter them, discard them, or do something else with them? 


WILL YOU HAVE A MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR YOUR PET?

Many families hold memorial services for their pet to make saying goodbye easier. If you want to hold a service for your pet, decide now what you will do.

Who will you invite? Where will it be? Will you be serving food and drinks? Will you hand out pet keepsakes to your guests as favors? Organize the details with your friends and family before it’s time to say goodbye to your pet forever. 

Understanding The Grieving Process

Grief is grief, whether we are grieving for a loved one or our furry pets. The pain and sadness we feel losing a pet is no different than the pain we feel at the loss of a loved one.

The loss of a pet can make you feel alone, sad, angry, or in denial of their passing. These feelings are all normal when experiencing grief. At first, you may be in denial of your pet’s passing. You won’t want to accept that they’re gone.

Next you may feel angry at others or yourself for not trying harder to keep them alive. In truth, there is likely nothing you could have done to keep them with you longer.

Finally, you may feel regret or sadness at not having more time with them. You’ll wish you could have given them one last hug or told them you loved them one last time. All of these feelings are part of the grieving process and something we all go through after loss. 

How Can You Cope With Grief After The Death Of A Pet?

First, understand that all of us, even our pets, have our time to go. Death is a natural and inevitable part of life that we can’t control. No matter what the circumstances of your pet’s death, tell yourself you did your best. Your pet loved you as much as you loved them, they would not want to see you unhappy. Cope with your grief in a healthy way by following these steps:

TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

We all need time to ourselves to sit with our grief and self-reflect. Though your friends and family may want to cheer you up with their presence, ask them to respect your space at this time.

Practice a self-care routine like taking long baths or eating yummy healthy food. Be kind to yourself during this time as you deal with your sadness. 

EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS

It’s okay to cry and it’s okay to tell others how you’re feeling. Talk to your friends or family members and let them know what you are going through. Talking about your feelings releases them from inside you and can ease your pain.

You may also consider journaling your feelings if you prefer a more private way to grieve. Writing down your thoughts and feelings helps to release them from your mind and ease your pain.

STAY ACTIVE

Stay active to shake up your routine and get your mind off of your pain. Join a fitness class, go for a walk with a friend, or sign up for volunteer work. The busier you are, the more you can keep your mind off of your grief. 

HAVE A PET KEEPSAKE MADE

Pet keepsake jewelry is a beautiful way to hold the memory of your pet alive. Photo engraved pet pendants that hold ash are a beautiful and personal way to remember your pet.

Memorial jewelry and keepsakes personalize your loss in a way that allows you to keep them close to you always. A memorial keepsake may help you overcome your grief and feel less lonely. 

GET ANOTHER PET

Another pet can never replace your deceased pet. The love you had for your best friend will never fade. But introducing a new pet to the family can help to ease some of the pain of losing your beloved pet.

A new pet may be especially helpful for coping with your grief if you live alone. It can be difficult transitioning to living alone when you are so used to having your pet by your side. A new pet will bring a smile back to your face and keep your mind off your grief.

Is It Better To Bury Or Cremate Your Pet?

Both burial and pet cremation are suitable options for laying your pet to rest. Which option you choose will be dependent on your situation and personal choice. Pet burial in the past has been more common. However, pet cremation has become more frequent in recent years. Many of the reasons being that pet burial is not always possible for some families. 

Burying your pet requires you to own a home with a yard, or other suitable area to bury your pet. You must then be able to dig at least 3 feet into the ground (or more depending on the size of your pet), which may be difficult to do without hitting water or gas lines. Additionally, some communities may not allow pet burials. 

PET CEMETERY

Another challenge that comes with pet burial is, what happens when you move? Should you bury your pet in your backyard, you won’t be able to take them with you if you move to a new place.

A pet cemetery is a burial ground for pets. Pet cemeteries give you a place to lay your pet to rest that allows you to visit and pay your respects. However, pet cemeteries are not located in every town and may be difficult for some families to return to.

What Is A Pet Crematorium?

A pet crematorium, or pet crematory, is a venue for the cremation of dead pets. Cremating involves incinerating the physical bodies of the deceased in high temperatures of 1400-2000 degrees. The process incinerates the deceased into ashes, which are then given to the deceased’s family. 

Cremation is a process commonly used for deceased people, but family pets can also be cremated. Cremating your pet allows you and your family to keep a physical part of your pet even after they’ve passed. 

Pet cremation offers families a more convenient way to say goodbye to their pets. Many families choose to keep their pet’s ashes in pet urns or special commemorative boxes.

However, pet cremation costs money. Depending on the size of your pet and your method of pet cremation, prices can range anywhere from $70 to $250. 

Where Can I Find A Pet Crematorium?

Many cities and towns have pet crematorium or a similar venue which can provide the service. A quick Google search may give you an idea where there is a pet crematorium near you, but your local veterinarian should have that information as well. In small rural towns, pet cremation may be provided at the local human crematorium. 

TALK TO YOUR VET

Your vet should be able to provide you with the information for cremating of a pet. Your vet may do it themselves at their facility, especially if they offer euthanasia services. If you have your pet euthanized at the vet, they will take care of preparing your pet’s body for cremation.

If you pet passes at home, many vet offices offer transport services from your home to the pet crematory. These services cost money, however. 

ASK A LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTER

If talking to your vet is not an option, check with your local animal shelter. Unfortunately, animal shelters are sometimes tasked with the difficult choice to euthanize animals. They will likely have resources for cremating a pet. 

How Do I Know If A Pet Crematorium Is Reputable?

To check whether a pet crematorium is reputable, look online for their reviews. Look for reviews that mention the cleanliness of the facility as well as the customer service. If there are numerous reviews that mention poor customer service or lack of communication between the pet crematorium and the customer, it could be a red flag. You want to ensure that your pet is handled with care and respect and that you receive the correct pet ashes. 

ASK YOUR VET

The best way to know if a pet crematory is reputable or not is to ask your vet. Your vet should be familiar with pet cremation services in your area. Many vets often work directly with a pet crematorium and therefore have good relationships with one’s they trust. Your vet should be able to tell you which pet cremation services are reputable or not. 


FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF

If you are still unsure about choosing a pet cremation service, call and ask to make an appointment with your local pet crematory. Check out the facility to get a feel for how their business is wrong. Talk to the staff and if possible, ask them to give you a tour.

You should be looking for cleanliness and professionalism, two key things that determine the reputability of a business. Also, talk to previous customers who’ve used their services and ask them about their experiences. Good reviews from previous customers are a good sign. 

What To Expect When Visiting A Pet Crematorium

Visiting a pet crematorium is much the same experience as visiting a human crematorium or funeral home. Walking into a pet crematorium should feel like a pleasant experience. It’s understood that visitors are grieving over their deceased pets.

Therefore, the staff should be willing to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Here is what to expect when visiting a pet crematorium:

Business Office.  The business office is where you will meet with a staff member or manager to discuss the details of your pet’s cremation. At this time, the staff member or manager should be able to give you a quote for how much your pet’s cremation will cost and how long the entire process will take. You’ll also be able to discuss payment methods or ask any other questions about the process you may be curious about.

Memorial Room.  A staff member may take you to a room where you can view the various pet urns, headstones, or other memorial keepsakes that they offer. If you choose to purchase one of these memorials for your pet, you can pick one out then.

Cremation Room.  The cremation room is a separate room in the crematory where they carry out the cremation process. In the cremation room, you will see the incinerator where they place the bodies of pets to be cremated. You should expect this room to be clean and sterile. If it’s not, then it may mean the crematory is not run very well. In that case, you may want to consider choosing a different pet crematorium.

Viewing Room.  The viewing room is a room divided by a glass window that sits adjacent to the cremation room. Here, you and your family can watch your pet be cremated. Some families choose to watch their pet be cremated as a final goodbye.

What Questions Should I Ask When Visiting A Pet Crematorium?

If you decide to visit your local pet crematorium before the cremation of a pet, these are important questions to ask before going through with the process:

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Cremating a pet is not free. You will have to pay the pet crematorium for their services. Make sure you provide the pet crematory with the details of your pet’s size and breed (keep in mind not all kinds of pets can be cremated at pet crematoriums).  Costs will depend on how large your pet is, whether you decide on a private or communal cremation, and whether you need additional services (pet urns, transportation, delivery, etc.) 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE

The time it takes to cremate your pet may depend on whether it is a private or communal cremation and how large your pet is. However, the entire pet cremation process from the time of cremation to when your pet’s ashes are delivered can vary based on how many pets are ahead of your pet to be cremated. 

WHAT TYPES OF CREMATION DO THEY OFFER?

Private cremation- your pet is cremated privately on their own. Their ashes are then given to you afterward.

Communal Cremation- your pet is cremated alongside other animals. Because other animals' ashes will be mixed in with your pet’s ashes, it’s impossible to know which ashes are your pets. Communal cremations don’t give the ashes back to families. 

Partitioned cremation- your pet will be cremated alongside other animals, but they will be separated. By separating the pets in such a way, it’s possible to get your pet’s ashes back. However, there is always the risk that some of the other animal’s ashes may be mixed in with your own pet’s. 

HOW DO I GET MY PET TO THE CREMATORIUM?

Ask your local pet crematory what the process is for getting your pet to the facility. If you euthanize your pet in the vet’s office, they may have a transfer service from the vet to the pet crematory. But if your pets at home, ask them if they offer transport from private residences. If not, you may have to bring your pet into the facility yourself.

CAN I WITNESS THE CREMATION OF MY PET?

Some pet crematoriums allow families to watch their pet being cremated. However, this may come at an additional charge. Ask your pet crematorium if this is a service they provide for families.

How Does The Pet Cremation Process Work?

The pet cremation process involves several steps. First you will need to get your pet to the pet crematorium by either bringing them there yourself or having them transported there via a service. Your pet will then be prepared to be cremated. Collars, leashes, or toys will not be cremated with them. 

Your pet will then be placed into the incinerator, which is a small, enclosed space that reaches temperatures of up to 2000 degrees. The heat will incinerate your pet’s body, leaving only ash and bone tissue. The remaining bone tissue will then be pulverized into a fine gray ash, which will be placed into a plastic bag and given to you. The whole process takes on average anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours, depending on the size of your pet. 

DOES THE PET CREMATORY PROVIDE A PET URN?

Depending on the pet crematorium, you may have the choice of purchasing a pet urn or ash memorial box through them. Pet urns are available online, through your vet, or sometimes sold from funeral supply stores.

Pet urns allow you to memorialize your beloved pet in a beautiful container that can be displayed in your home. Additionally, should you choose not to keep your pet’s ashes, the pet crematorium will dispose of them in a respectful way. 

What Is The Cost Of Pet Cremation?

The cost of pet cremation depends on several factors; your pet’s weight, the type of pet cremation, whether you choose to use additional services, and where you live. 

YOUR PET'S WEIGHT

In general, the larger your pet is, the more it will cost to cremate them. Small pet cremation (50 pounds or less) can cost you up to $100 while medium pet cremation and large pet cremation can cost you up to $200 or more.  

TYPE OF CREMATION

The type of cremation you choose for your pet can be a factor in costs. Private cremation generally costs more, while communal and partitioned are less. Additionally, the pet crematory may charge an extra fee to witness the cremation if that is something you choose to do. 

ADDITIONAL SERVICES

Pet crematorium services may range in anything from providing pick up (of your pet’s body), delivery (of your pet’s ashes), and urn selection. Be sure to check ahead of time with the pet crematorium to see which services are offered and what their costs are. 

WHERE YOU LIVE

As with anything, where you live may determine how much you will pay to have your pet cremated. More expensive areas are likely to charge more than average prices. Always agree on a price ahead of time before choosing your pet crematorium. 

What Pets Can Be Cremated?

The most common pets that are cremated are cats and dogs. However, nearly any kind of pet can be cremated including horses, birds, bunnies, and even exotic pets like monkeys. For more uncommon pets it’s best to check with your local pet crematory to ensure they can accommodate your pet. Large pets such as horses may also be cremated but they may require extra services such as transport. Keep in mind the larger your pet, the more expensive it will be to cremate them. 

What Other Options Are There For My Pet's Ashes Other Than An Urn?

Pet urns are not the only option for memorializing your pet’s ashes. Many families choose to memorialize their pet by finding creative ways to display their ashes. Some options for pet ashes let you get creative. If you would like to memorialize your pet’s ashes in a way that doesn’t involve sitting in an urn, here are a few ideas:

PET CREMATION JEWELRY

Pet cremation jewelry is jewelry made from your pet’s ashes. The jeweler will use a portion of your pet’s ashes to incorporate into the jewelry design. In this way, you can always keep a part of your pet with you.

Pet cremation jewelry is designed to hold some of your pet’s ashes inside a small compartment in the jewelry piece. Most pet cremation jewelry can be personalized with your pet’s name, birthstone, or even picture. Some of our favorite pieces of pet cremation jewelry include:

Gold Plated Buddy Heart

The gold plated buddy heart locket necklace is a beautiful piece to remember your beloved canine friend. The locket features a small paw print reminiscent of your fur baby. It features a small compartment inside the locket to fill with your pet’s ashes. The necklace comes with special sealing glue so that you can fill and seal the necklace yourself. 


Stainless Steel Cylinder Pet Urn Pendant

The pet urn pendant necklace can be personalized with your own engraved message. Carry your pet’s ashes around your neck with sweet words to remember them by. The cylinder pet urn pendant necklace is available in stainless steel and gold. 


Memorial Locket Wood Paw Print Necklace

The memorial locket wood paw print necklace holds your pet’s ashes securely around your neck. It’s a unique paw print jewelry piece that will remain a classic for years to come. 

DECORATIVE DISPLAY CONTAINERS

Another way of commemorating your pet’s life is by placing their ashes in a decorative display container. These containers could be made of glass, wood, or metal. They may be in the form of a box or another kind of airtight sealable container. These pieces may fit in better with the decor of your home. 

DECORATIVE PET URN

Although technically still an urn, decorative pet urns more so resemble a piece of artwork. Decorative pet urns come in all materials, shapes, and sizes.

The most adorable pet urns are made to resemble the breed of your pet (cat, dog, horse, etc.) The urns can be personalized with your pet’s name, picture, and even paw print.

You can purchase pet urns from your vet’s office, funeral services shop, and online. Online marketplaces, like Etsy, that specialize in handmade goods may offer more unique pet urns with more possibilities for personalization. If you’re looking for more affordable pet urns, Amazon has a wide selection of pet urns for every budget. 

PLANT A TREE

You can use your pet’s ashes to plant a tree, bush, or flower bed in your backyard. Ashes can be poured into a dug-out hole in the ground to be planted alongside your plant. As you care for your plant, it will be as if you are caring for your pet. You can watch your plant grow and always be reminded of your loving animal companion.

If you do not have an outside garden, you can incorporate your pet’s ashes into potted plants. You can spread your pet’s ashes between several potted plants and place them in different areas of your house.

If possible, place the plants in areas your pet used to hang out in often. Seeing the plants sitting where your pet used to sit will remind you of your fond memories with your pet.

MEMORIAL FOREST

If you like the idea of planting your pet’s ashes under a tree, you can choose to do so in a memorial forest.  A memorial forest is a protected forest that acts as a cemetery for deceased loved ones.

Instead of headstones, the deceased are placed underneath a planted tree. You can visit the forest whenever you like and walk through the beautiful memorial trees. You should be able to mark the tree you pet is buried beneath and watch it grow each time you come to pay your respects. 

SCATTER THE ASHES

Should you not want to keep your pet’s ashes, or only want to keep a portion of their ashes, you can scatter the remainder outside. Scattering the ashes of a loved one is a common practice. By freeing your pet’s ashes, you are allowing them to return to the earth from whence they came.

You may want to hold a small ceremony for scattering your pet’s ashes. Invite your family and close friends and together release your pet’s remains into the air and let the wind carry them away.

Choose a place that was special to your pet, like their favorite park or beach. As you watch their ashes float away, you can find comfort in knowing your animal friend is finally at rest. 

Pet Cremation Frequently Asked Questions

What do pet ashes look like?

Pet ashes are the remains of your pet’s bones after they have been incinerated in an oven at high temperatures. After incineration, the remains are then pulverized, or reduced to fine particles that resemble fine gray sand. Ashes are the result of tiny bone fragments and organic mineral compounds found in bones after they’ve been pulverized. Your pet’s ashes will most likely look gray in color but may also have hints of red, brown, yellow, or orange. These colors come from the trace minerals found in bone tissue. 

Is it okay to cremate animals?

Yes, it is okay to cremate animals. The cremation process for animals is much the same as it is for humans. Cremation is simply a way to lay your pet to rest. Cremation for pets is becoming more and more common. When you cremate your pet, you will be left with their ashes. Most people keep their pet’s ashes in an urn but there are many options available for keeping your pet’s ashes. 

How do I know if I am getting my own pet’s ashes back?

The only way to know if you are getting your own pet’s ashes back is if you go to a reputable pet crematory service. A reputable pet crematorium will not mix your pet’s ashes with other pet’s ashes unless you choose communal or partitioned cremation for your pet. If you want to ensure that the ashes returned to you are entirely your own pets, then choose to have a private cremation. A private cremation will cremate your pet’s body by itself, ensuring that the ashes that remain are theirs. 

How long does the cremation process take?

In general, the cremation process takes anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. How long it takes to cremate your pet will depend on their size. The larger your pet is, the longer it will take for them to be cremated. However, the timeline from when your pet dies to when they are cremated and then delivered to you can vary. If the pet crematorium has a long line of pets in their queue, it may take a week or more until your pet’s ashes are ready to be given back to you. 

Can I get my pet cremated through my local vet?

Some local vet offices offer cremation services if they have an incinerator in their facility. If they don’t offer the service themselves, however, they are likely to know of somewhere that does. Vet offices often work closely with pet crematories when they are required to euthanize pets. Your local vet should be able to give your information on pet cremation and where you can go to have your pet cremated. 

Can special items be included with my pet during cremation?

In most cases, pet cremation does not allow special items to be cremated alongside your pet’s body. But it doesn’t hurt to ask. Some pet crematorium services will allow certain items to be cremated with your pet, like a special blanket made of natural fibers. However, it’s not always guaranteed. Instead, consider placing your pet’s special items alongside their cremated remains in a decorative pet memorial display. 

Can I have my pet hamster cremated?

Yes, you can have your pet cremated anywhere that provides pet cremation services. Virtually any type of pet can be cremated. The most common pet cremations are done on dogs and cats but anything from birds, bunnies, horses, and monkeys can undergo the cremation process. 

What happens to the microchip when my pet is cremated?

If your pet has a microchip while they are cremated, the microchip will be removed after the cremation process. When your pet is placed in the incinerator, all organic material will be pulverized into ash. Any non-organic material, like microchips or other metal pieces, will remain. These pieces will be removed from your pets’ ashes and either discarded or returned to you. 

How are pets stored before cremation?

Your pet will be stored in a large refrigerator prior to their cremation. Pet crematorium facilities will have the necessary equipment to properly store your pet’s body before it is their turn to be cremated. The pet crematory can only cremate so many pets per day, meaning it could take a few days until they are able to get to your pet. Refrigeration will keep your pet from decaying before it is time to be cremated. 

Gone But Never Fur-gotten

Your pet’s death leaves you with a hole in your heart that can never be filled. It’s difficult to say goodbye to your animal companion, but pet cremation allows you to carry a part of them with you wherever you go. Burying your pet is not always possible or the best option in some situations. The pet cremation process serves to memorialize your pet and keep a part of them with you forever.

May 22, 2022 by Jeri K. Augustus