Your pet is a part of your family — they’ve been by your side through major life changes, and you’ve made many happy memories together. And when they’re gone, you want to celebrate all the joy they brought into your life by giving them a proper memorial. While movies may depict burials in the backyard, this isn’t always possible. Instead, pet cremation has become the most common and affordable end-of-life option for our four-legged friends.
If you have questions about whether animal cremation is right for you, this guide can tell you everything you need to know.
Which pets can be cremated?
Dog cremation is the most common, along with cats and horses. However, you can cremate nearly any pet, including birds, rabbits, hamsters, and even exotic pets like monkeys. So, how much does it cost to cremate a dog or other pet? It depends on the size of the animal and the type of cremation — more on that later.
Is it better to bury or cremate your pet?
As with any end-of-life service, what’s right for you will be personal. You may factor in cost, effort required, and whether pet cremation is available near you.
Burying your beloved pet in your yard isn’t always practical. You’ll need to dig at least three to five feet into the ground and be aware of any gas or water lines, as well as any local regulations that prohibit pet burial. A cold climate can prevent you from burying your pet in the winter. Lastly, if you move to a new house, what becomes of your pet’s grave?
If you live in an area that has a pet cemetery, you can certainly go that route. But with just 100 in the country, you may not live close enough for burial in a pet cemetery to be an option.
Pet cremation is often the most convenient option — as it’s typically more affordable and still allows you to have a memorial for your pet. Many families agree that pet cremation is an excellent choice: according to a survey by the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance, 99% of pet funerals each year involve cremation.
Will you get your pet’s ashes back after cremation?
Whether you get your pet’s ashes back depends on the type of cremation you choose. There are generally three types of cremation available for pets: communal, partitioned, and private.
- Communal: In a communal cremation, your pet is cremated along with other animals. Because there are several animals, it’s not possible to get your pet’s ashes back.
- Partitioned: In this case, your pet is cremated along with other animals, but each animal is partitioned off. You may ask for your pet’s ashes, but it’s possible you’ll get some remains from other animals mixed in with your pet’s ashes.
- Private: In a private ceremony, your pet is cremated alone, and you are able to get the ashes afterward.
The amount of ashes you’ll get back depends on the size of your pet. Experts say you will get back around 3.5% of your pet’s weight before they were cremated.
How much does it cost to cremate a dog?
The cost of dog cremation varies based on the size of your pet and the type of cremation you choose. Communal cremation is the least expensive — it usually won’t cost you more than $70. Private cremation, on the other hand, can cost as much as $250, but it often includes a basic pet urn that the ashes will be returned in.
Other costs to keep in mind are pick-up fees, which are often charged when you need the service outside of business hours, as well as fees if you’d like a witnessed cremation. You’ll also need an urn, which can cost anywhere from $75 up to $1,000 or more.
How does pet cremation work?
The cremation process follows these basic steps:
- The animal’s remains are incinerated using high heat, around 1400–1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of time it takes depends on the size of the animal, but is usually around two hours.
- The remains are inspected for metal objects; any that are discovered are removed.
- Large pieces of bone that did not incinerate are pulverized to fine dust that resembles ash.
- For animals in a private cremation, the cremains will be placed in your chosen storage compartment. Your crematorium may allow you to provide an urn, box, or other enclosed container. If the crematorium doesn’t accept urns or you’re still looking for the perfect final resting place for your pet, the cremains will usually be poured into a plastic bag and then returned to you.
If witnessed cremation is available at your crematorium, you can pay a small extra fee to be either in the cremation room itself or in a viewing room. Witnessed cremations can help owners get closure in the grieving process — as many don’t want to leave their pet’s side until the very end.
There is also a relatively new process for pet cremation that is water-based, called alkaline hydrolysis. It’s been gaining popularity as a more natural and environmentally friendly cremation solution. Water-based pet cremation uses water and a water-soluble alkali solution to decompose the body in a pressurized chamber. At the end of the process, you’ll receive ashes that you can memorialize in whatever way you see fit.
How can I find pet cremation near me?
Many cities have pet crematoriums that contract with veterinary clinics. If you live in a small town, it’s possible that the crematorium takes care of both humans and pets, but will have two separate designated areas for them.
You could do an internet search for “Pet cremation near me,” but it’s often a better idea to talk to your veterinarian. If you have to euthanize your pet, you can often choose to have it cremated, and your vet will arrange to have your pet transferred to the crematorium. However, if your pet dies at home, you can still talk to your vet to see if they offer mobile services — where they can come to your home to pick up your pet for cremation.
Many pet owners choose at-home euthanization as a way for their pet to pass peacefully. These are qualified veterinarians who come to your home, and they often offer animal cremation as an additional service. They will remove your pet’s body, have it cremated, and have the ashes sent back to you in a basic urn.
What do I do with my pet’s ashes?
From traditional options to more modern memorials, you have many options for what to do with your pet’s ashes.
- Scattering: If your pet enjoyed hiking, swimming, or outdoor adventures, scattering their ashes in a place they loved is a meaningful way to honor them.
- Pet urns: The most popular way to memorialize your pet’s ashes is in a pet urn that you display in your home. They’re available in nearly any style and at any price point. On the outside of the urn, you can place a photograph or hang their tags.
- Cremation jewelry: Cremation jewelry varies from urn necklaces, which are hollowed-out vials that you place ashes in, to cremation beads and glass jewelry, which involve melting down glass and adding ashes.
- Cremation art: You can also turn your pet’s ashes into glass art that you can display in your home. The process is similar to creating glass beads and jewelry.
- Memorial forests: Memorial forests are an environmentally friendly way to honor the life of your pet. Your pet’s ashes are spread under a memorial tree in a protected forest, creating a beautiful place to visit in memory of your pet. You can even choose to be laid to rest in the same place as your pet to create a lasting legacy.
Today’s pet owner has more options than ever for what to do when their beloved dog, cat, or other pet passes. When you choose animal cremation, you can memorialize your pet in a variety of creative ways, and rest assured knowing that their remains will not be disturbed in the future.