Is It Better To Cremate or Bury a Pet?

During the difficult and trying period after your pet dies, wondering, “Is it better to cremate or bury a pet?” is not an easy thing to think about. However, as hard as it is, it’s necessary to choose how you want to care for and remember your beloved pet.

Sick Dog

After your pet passes, you deal with so many emotions that it can be confusing and hard to focus, especially when it comes to making any decisions about how you want to deal with your pet’s remains. You may feel empty or drift back to the past when you cherished the time you spent with your pet. This is a painful but natural process that all pet lovers will eventually have to go through.

It’s never something we’re completely prepared for. Still, hopefully, this article will help you by laying out some of the more common things to know when it comes to deciding between pet cremation vs. pet burial.

Understanding Pet Aftercare

Pet aftercare refers to the physical handling of the pet’s remains after the pet died. The two main ways of caring for the pet’s body are cremation and burial – another option would be to donate the pet’s body to science to help other animals who may have suffered from the same affliction.

Whether you choose cremation services or pet burial services, there may be additional fees, like creating a headstone or a memorial item to honor your pet. Choosing to have your furry friend cremated or buried comes down to personal choice. How you choose to remember them should be what feels right for you and the way you want to honor your own pet.

Both options have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore these options, the pros, and cons, and help you make the right decision.

Pet Cremation

Pet Cremation Urns

The pet cremation process is very similar to human cremation. Since it is very similar, it contains the same benefits and the same problems. Let’s look at why many pet owners consider using pet cremation and explore potential reasons why this may be an option for your pet.

Benefits of Pet Cremation

  • Cost-effective – Whether it is a cat or dog cremation, the entire cremation process can be less expensive than a burial at many pet cemeteries. Some local laws will allow a home burial of the pet’s remains. However, in most urban settings, backyard pet burials might not be allowed, and the only option for burial will be at a pet cemetery. Many pet owners will choose cremation services for economic reasons. It’s a way of saying goodbye to their faithful companion without spending a lot of money.
  • A simple process – Even though pet burials sound simple, cremation can be equally simple. With hundreds of pet crematoriums located all over the US, it will be easy to find one that suits your needs and budget. You can even ask your vet to assist you with any pet aftercare you may need.
  • Memorial Options: Just like with a burial, you can have the same memorial items and services. Even if you choose the option of cremation, you can still have a memorial grave marker or headstone made for your pet, and you can perform a service to honor their memory. You can request a decorative urn or keepsake box to display your pet’s ashes in your own home as a way to remember the love they gave you.

Types of Pet Cremation

One of the reasons pet owners choose cremation vs. burial is because there are many options available based on your budget and how you want to say goodbye.

Even though the process of cremation is the same each time, choosing the different types of cremation means there are many factors to consider. Let’s look at the main cremation options available.

#1. Communal Cremation

Dog and Cat

Communal pet cremation is the most affordable cremation option. This option means that multiple pets are cremated simultaneously in the same chamber. Typically the crematorium will do a group cremation with animals of the same size.

This means that you won’t likely have a cat cremation and dog cremation happening together. It is a viable option for families that don’t have the additional resources for a private cremation, and it keeps your cat or dog cremation cost low.

The major drawback of this method is that you will not be given your pet’s ashes since the crematorium will mix them with other pets’ ashes as they cremate several animals simultaneously. However, in many cases, the service provider at the crematorium can offer a memorial service that includes saying a few last words, even if you won’t be scattering the ashes.

#2. Individual Cremation

Another practical option is an individual animal cremation. Similar to the communal method, individual cremation cremates multiple pets simultaneously, but the deceased pets are separated into their individual cremation chambers.

If, for example, you choose an individual dog cremation, this means you can take your dog’s ashes with you. However, the design of each chamber is not entirely secure, and there may be a small amount of ashes mixed between the chambers.

#3. Private Cremation

Direct Cremation

Private cremation is by far the most expensive method available for a pet owner. With this type of cremation, the pet’s remains are cremated by themselves with no other pets in the cremation chamber. This means that if you do a cat or dog cremation, it will just be your pet being cremated.

At a private cremation, a family member can stand as a witness to the cremation and take part in a private ceremony. With this method, you are guaranteed to get only your furry friend’s ashes after the cremation.

With individual and private cremation methods, you can get your pet’s ashes returned to you. Bear in mind that means that there may be additional costs involved. Some of the additional fees may be:

  • A simple pet urn or a more elaborate and decorative urn.
  • A memorial or grave marker.
  • A keepsake box containing all of their favorite things.

Pet Burial

Pet Cemetery

A pet burial is what most people commonly think of when it comes to pet aftercare. Terms like “final resting place” and “crossing the rainbow bridge” are synonymous with the concept of burial. However, burials can be rather costly, even for an animal.

It’s one of the main reasons why pet owners choose cremation vs. burial for their pets. However, there are still some who find comfort in a burial option. Let’s see why pet cemeteries are still gaining popularity to honor your furry best friend.

Benefits of Pet Burial

  • A place to visit – The pet will be placed to rest at a local city pet cemetery or in your backyard. This means there will be a pet’s grave or marker to do your final disposition and visit, often spending time remembering their life. For your home burial site, you make a peaceful and beautiful space by creating a garden, planting a tree or flower bed, or placing a bench at the site. Some choose backyard burials because they take comfort knowing that the pet’s body is in the same spot it once played in.
  • Backyard burials can save you money – The cost of the burial can vary. Many factors affect the price, including any personalized requests, style, and design of the pet casket, or if you want a personalized and decorative marker or headstone. There really is no limit to the number of extras you can spend money on when choosing a burial ceremony. Make sure you talk to a reputable provider of these services to fully understand all of the costs associated with the pet burial at a cemetery. However, doing a home burial for your beloved pets will be significantly less expensive than burial at a pet cemetery, costing practically nothing.

Are Home Burials Legal?

The answer will depend on the local regulations of your city or state. There aren’t as many restrictions for the burial of pets in rural areas, but it is still required that you contact your local authorities to make sure pet burials are legal in your area.

Can You Bury Your Dog?

Burying Cremation Ashes

If your pet dies, you’re left with the painful task of what to do with the body. Choosing to bury your pet on your own is not easy, and most are not emotionally or physically prepared for it.

After your pet dies, the stages of death begin to appear. This can be extremely difficult to deal with, especially if you need to handle your beloved pet’s body and get it ready for burial. Then there is the physical work of digging the grave. The grave will have to be between two and five feet deep, and depending on the area where you live, you’ll have to consider factors like frost, water, or if other animals can dig up the grave.

There are specific guidelines you’ll have to follow for burials at home. This includes wrapping up the body in a blanket or a biodegradable box instead of using a metal box. Over time, the body will break down as any organic matter does, and using a biodegradable container will help in the decomposition process. This will help prevent wild animals from finding your pet and digging it up—something you or your family do not want to witness or deal with.

You must bury the pet away from utility lines such as power or water. Call your local utility company before you dig, and always check your local laws to make sure it is legal to bury your pet in your backyard.

You can talk to your vet or your local humane society for the information you’ll need to help you with the burial of your beloved furry friend. They will guide you to the best local pet cemetery, rules for pet burial laws, and can even help you through the grieving process for you or any other family member who is dealing with the loss of a pet.

Conclusion – Should I Cremate or Bury My Dog or Cat?

Burying or cremating your beloved pets isn’t an easy choice to make. There is no right or wrong way to handle the final arrangements you need to make to remember your pet and feel more at peace. There are advantages and disadvantages to both cremation services and burials at pet cemeteries or backyards.

When a pet passes, you may be in too much pain to deal with making arrangements for the type of cremation or burial. Reach out for help, and talk to family members and close friends to help you with these tough decisions. Ultimately, you will choose the cremation or burial that suits you and how you want to remember your beloved friend.