Losing a beloved pet is never easy. After all, pets become our family members who live with us for years. They are there for birthdays, celebrations, marriages, having children, and never waver from our side through the good times and the bad. They are our loyal companions, and so when they eventually pass on, it’s only natural for us to want to honor their memory.
Pet cremation is a meaningful way to do just that.
Here at Memorials.com, our team understands the importance of having a knowledgeable and compassionate funeral expert guide you through this tough time. Even if your pet hasn’t passed on yet, it’s a good idea to start learning about your pet cremation options. This will ease the pain, loss, and confusion often felt when a pet dies.
In The Ultimate Guide to Pet Cremation, we offer helpful explanations of everything pet parents should know about when their fur baby finally crosses the rainbow bridge. This includes information on different pet cremation services, what to do with a pet’s ashes, the pet cremation process itself, the grieving and healing process, how to choose between pet urns, cremation costs, and so much more.
Ready to learn all about pet cremation?
Let’s get started.
Why is Pet Cremation so Popular Nowadays?
To begin, it may surprise you to know that pet cremation is quite popular.
In fact, according to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey, an astonishing 90.5 million families (or approximately 70%) of U.S. families own at least one pet. From cats to dogs and every reptile, bird, farm animal, and rodent in between, people sure do love their pets! Naturally, many pet owners wonder about what to do with their pet’s body when their time together comes to an end.
For millions of families, the right answer is pet cremation.
Though it can be sad – or even downright uncomfortable – to talk about death, cremation is actually a beautiful and ancient ritual that has been performed by humans for thousands of years. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of cremated dogs going as far back as 332 BC in present day Palestine. Unlike a burial, pet cremation allows an owner to keep their pet’s remains close by, either in an urn, to be scattered in the garden, or used in the creation of artwork or jewelry.
It is an in-demand and heartfelt way to memorialize a pet.
The Cremation Process: What is Involved?
Next, pet owners often ask, “What does the pet cremation process look like? What should I expect? Is there anything I need to do to prepare?”
It’s okay to have lots of questions!
The following is a step-by-step breakdown of what pet owners can expect to learn when researching a pet cremation service for their furry, feathered, or four-legged best friend. A pet cremation isn’t all that different from a human cremation in terms of the process.
Essentially, what happens is this:
First, your pet’s body will be gently handled and transported from either your home or a veterinarian’s office to the cremation chamber. Once there, intense heat between 1400-1800 degrees Fahrenheit turns your pet’s body into dry bones and dust. Any metal objects (such as tags, surgical pins and rods, etc.) are carefully picked out by hand or with a magnet. The leftover matter are referred to as “cremains.” Finally, these unprocessed cremains are run through a cremulator machine. This results in fine, powdery, white ashes which can either be returned to the family as a keepsake or scattered on the earth.
Private Cremation vs. Communal Cremation: What’s the Difference?
Of course, there are dozens of routes you can take when it comes to pet cremation. None is better than the other – just different. In all cases, pets are handled with dignity and compassion.
In terms of pet cremation, there are four main types. These include:
During a private cremation, only your pet is inside the cremation chamber. This is known as a private pet cremation. Since this is an individual cremation, ashes returned are 100% pure and not mixed with those of other pets.
Those looking for a quicker and more affordable option may opt for a communal cremation. With this service, multiple animals undergo the cremation process together. Ashes are combined with those of other animals in the cremation unit. Consequently, your pet’s ashes (if returned) will be mixed with other pets.
Since the cremated remains contain other animals, unclaimed pet ashes are usually scattered in a special garden.
This is a semi private cremation service. Just like how it sounds, these pet cremations are done with multiple animals that are separated by thin barricades. Other animals are cremated alongside your pet, so while every effort is made to preserve your pet’s ashes, some degree of mixing is likely to occur.
The fourth type of pet cremation service is called “witnessed cremation.” For those struggling emotionally with the grieving process or who want to be physically present during their fur baby’s final sendoff, this can be extraordinarily healing.
Pet parents are invited to watch the cremation as it happens. They wait in the viewing room.
Pet Cremation vs. Burial…Which is Better?
When a pet dies, you have two choices:
Whichever end of life service you ultimately decide to go with will depend upon a few factors. These include the distance to local pet crematoriums, costs, effort required, and for some people also their religious and spiritual beliefs. Again, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer. You took excellent care of your much-loved pet in life, and now you are simply caring for them in death, too.
Let’s begin by talking about burials. Traditionally, this was the most common practice. However, according to the statistics over 90% of pets are cremated nowadays (with only 10% being buried).
There are a handful of reasons. For one thing, a pet burial requires a pet cemetery. Those who live in the country or who have access to a field, garden, and yard may prefer to bury their pet in a beautiful outdoor location surrounded by trees, flowers, and nature.
Unfortunately, not everyone has that option. City dwellers have limited space. In addition, a burial requires digging 3-5 feet deep in the ground, which is not always practical in cold climates. Overall, a pet cemetery is a great choice if you have several animals, don’t mind the physical toll, and plan to erect a monument on the land to honor them.
But as mentioned, the vast majority of modern pet owners go with cremation.
Here is the reasoning.
For one thing, pet cremation is environmentally friendly. Organic matter is broken down in a matter of hours. Plus, it’s affordable. Additionally, pet crematories are equipped to handle all sizes of animals and accommodate special requests, thus taking the stress off families and supporting them in their time of grief.
Can All Pets be Cremated?
Millions of people worldwide share their home with a pet.
According to research, it is estimated that 470+ million dogs are kept as pets globally, with cats following closely behind at 370+ million. In the U.S. alone, more than 1 in 2 people – or 53% of American households – have a dog. Wow. That’s a lot of animals!
So, it is no surprise that when a beloved pet dies, many people choose cremation for their dog or cat. But can any pet be cremated?
Believe it or not…yes!
All domesticated animals, including birds, hamsters, rabbits, reptiles, fish, and farm animals like horses, sheep, goats, pigs, etc. can undergo the pet cremation process.
What are the Average Costs Associated with Pet Cremations?
Losing your four-legged best friend carries a wave of overwhelming sadness. In the midst of it all, the last thing you’re keen to talk about is money.
Here at Memorials.com, we appreciate how tough it can be. That’s why our pet products are accessible for a wide range of budgets. Before buying an urn, headstone, or memorial, you need to be aware of pet cremation cost and fees.
- The pet cremation method (private or communal)
- The size / weight of your pet
- Extra services
Pet cremation cost will always be lower in a communal cremation. When several animals are cremated together, prices usually fall between $30 – $70. Furthermore, the size of the pet matters. Larger pets take longer to cremate and also need more room in the cremation chamber, so expect to pay more in these cases.
Here is a general breakdown of pet cremation cost by weight:
- 1 – 30 lbs: $150 – $175
- 30 – 120 lbs: $200 – $250
- Over 120 lbs: $250+
Still have questions?
Contact a few pet crematoriums in your areas and ask for a quote.
How Much Does it Cost to Cremate a Dog?
Dogs are the most popular pet. As such, people often wonder how much dog cremation costs. The answer: dog cremation cost varies greatly.
First, consider the breed and weight of the dog. A full-grown Bullmastiff will be on the higher end ($250+) compared to a tiny Toy Poodle ($50+). Secondly, consider the location. A local animal shelter will sometimes offer low-cost communal pet cremation. This can be an affordable option for dog cremation services on a budget.
How Much Does it Cost to Cremate a Cat?
A cat is a furry family member, too!
As a kitty mom or dad, you no doubt want to brainstorm your fur ball’s end of life plan. For millions of people, this includes their pet’s cremation. On average, a private cat cremation without other animals will be $80 – $150. Like dog cremation, there are ways to make cat cremation less expensive.
For instance, you can choose a communal pet cremation. This could be as little as $30.
Keep in mind that private pet cremation and witnessed cremation will always cost more – though depending on your final wishes, it may be justified knowing that their ashes are not co-mixed with those belonging to other pets.
Other Pet Cremation Fees
One final piece of information.
Don’t forget to factor in other fees. For example, travel costs. Crematories may suggest sending their own staff to pick up your pet from a veterinarian’s office (for an additional fee, of course).
You will also want to invest in a beautiful pet urn to hold your pet’s ashes. Affordable cremation urns and jewelry start at $25 and intricately carved marble urns and headstones can range from $200 – $1000.
Who Transfers My Pet to the Crematorium?
When a pet passes, it can be difficult to take action. This is especially true if a pet dies at home and is not gently put to sleep at a veterinarian’s office. In such cases, it can be helpful to know about getting a pet transferred.
Arranging pick up services is a good start. Contact your veterinarian. They will be able to give you a list of trusted service providers who can pick up and transfer your pet’s body, if you don’t feel emotionally prepared to drive and transport your pet alone within the recommended 4 – 6 hours after death.
Will My Veterinarian or Local Animal Shelter Offer Pet Cremation?
Not all veterinarian offices function in this way, though. A vet’s clinic can be fully staffed and busy or run by just three or four people and have limited business hours. For this reason, most outsource to pet crematories.
Similarly, animal shelters have partnerships with third-party pet cremation companies.
Both should be happy to refer you to their contact.
How Long Do I Have to Wait Before Getting My Pet’s Ashes Back?
Understandably, you will be eager to be reunited with a darling pet.
The majority of pet crematoriums aim for a fast turnaround. The entire process from start to finish typically takes 1 week, depending on which option you choose. Once a pet’s body has been dropped off, staff will schedule the cremation. This will vary by size of each animal. Whereas a small pet (like a Chihuahua or turtle) requires under 2 hours, a bigger pet (such as a Great Dane or pony) will take several hours.
Next, you’re likely wondering, “But when will the ashes be returned to me?”
Generally, 1 – 2 days following the service.
Remember, with a private cremation, you can get your pet’s ashes back. On the other hand, this is not always possible with a communal cremation because their ashes will be mixed with those of other animals. Some families do request partially cremated remains after a communal cremation, but be aware that rules surrounding this vary.
How Will a Pet’s Ashes be Returned?
Before you go to retrieve your pet’s ashes, you will be asked how you would like them returned.
Those who have already selected an enclosed container – like an urn or keepsake box – can ask that the ashes be put inside immediately following the cremation process. But if you haven’t found a container yet, don’t worry. Ashes will be poured into a plastic bag.
From there, you can keep, bury, or scatter them whenever the moment feels right.
Is it Guaranteed These are My Pet’s Ashes?
Yes and no.
There is only one way to guarantee you are receiving your pet’s ashes. Ask for an individual cremation. Those who work in the pet cremation industry are animal lovers as well, and so if you ask for a private cremation, you can rest assured your pet’s ashes won’t be mixed.
Still, due diligence never hurt. Read the company’s Google reviews, check out their website’s policies and procedures, and don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions.
Choosing the Perfect Pet Urn
A pet urn is a wonderful way to display love for your pet. When placed on a shelf or fireplace mantel and surrounded by photographs, pet urns serve as permanent reminder of happy memories. And luckily, there are thousands of pet urns available.
So, which to choose: a basic urn or special urn?
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
Simple, elegant, and timeless…a basic urn serves its purpose well. These are made of metal, bronze, ceramic, or wood. An urn will hold your pet’s ashes and can either be plain or decorated with their name and year of birth, plus a short message. These are intended to be indoor urns only.
Looking for something a little more unique?
There is no shortage of special and customizable pet urns. Marble and glass add a degree of beauty whereas art urns provide pops of color, shape, and character. The Memorials team has even selected a line of cool, unusual, and very unique cremation urns to hold your precious pet.
Planet-conscious folks will be pleased to see tons of environmentally friendly urns on the market, too. This type of biodegradable urn is constructed from 100% organic material. Since ashes are also organic matter, they break down inside the urn itself. A few months to years later, either a plant or tree will sprout.
Did your pup love splashing in the lake? Another idea is a water burial urn. These are made of biodegradable material. Watch as it peacefully dissolves beneath the waves.
What lovely and earth-friendly ways to memorialize your pet!
What Size Pet Urn Do I Need?
As we have just learned, pet urns come in all shapes and sizes. Before purchasing one for your beloved pet, you will need to consider how small or big the urn should be. As a general rule of thumb, the weight of a pet’s ashes will be dependent upon their original body weight. The larger the animal, the more space will be needed to hold their ashes.
For example, a dog’s ashes will be approximately 3.5% of their body weight.
Every pound will need one cubic inch of space. So, a cat who weighed 10 lbs. must have an urn that is at least 10 cubic inches. Similarly, a large breed dog at 100 lbs. needs 100 cubic inches to safely hold all their ashes.
Choosing the Perfect Pet Memorial, Headstone, and Grave Marker
At Memorials.com, we offer thousands of different products. Our team of professionals is committed to helping pet owners find that perfect memorial, headstone, or grave marker. To know which is right for you, think about the following:
- Does it represent my pet’s spirit and personality?
- Will I feel at peace looking at it?
- Can it be personalized with a message or name?
- Where am I planning to put it? Indoors or outdoors?
- Does it fall within my budget?
Answering these questions will assist you in planning a proper memorial.
Heartfelt Pet Cremation Art Ideas
Every pet is unique. So, why not turn your pet’s cremated remains into art? The following list outlines 5 creative ideas.
Pet Cremation Jewelry
Want to keep your pet close to your heart? A small amount of a pet’s ashes are funneled into a compartment inside a pendant on a necklace or bracelet. This is then sealed. Now, your pet will be with you wherever you go.
Pet’s Ashes Scatted in a Painting
Those who miss seeing their pet’s smiling face and wagging tail will be thrilled to learn about this type of cremation art. Hire an artist and ask that a tiny bit of pet cremains be mixed into the paint.
Another popular idea is to have a glass paperweight made using your pet’s ashes. Handblown glass swirls with the cremains for a truly one-of-a-kind piece of art.
To commemorate the loss of a pet, thousands of people get pawprints, names, or pet face portraits tattooed onto their skin as permanent reminders. But did you know? Ink can actually be infused with a pet’s ashes.
A Dazzling Diamond
They say diamonds are a girl’s bestfriend, but have you ever heard of turning your furry friend into a diamond? Pet ash diamonds are sparkling tokens of remembrance that can be worn as rings and pendants. This costs upwards of $1000 and can take anywhere from 3 – 9 months.
Where to Scatter a Pet’s Ashes
Would you prefer to scatter your pet’s ashes somewhere?
This is also a beautiful tribute. Scattering ashes is culturally significant to some religions and is often viewed as a way to free the soul or spirit of a pet. Think about your pet’s favorite spot. Where was your faithful companion happiest? Did they love romping around in nature? Sunbathing lazily in the garden? Was your pup always excited to jump in the car and head out on a hiking, swimming, camping, or boating trip?
Any place that holds sentimental value can be a good choice.
Be sure to check with local regulations. Scattering a pet’s ashes on your own private property is acceptable, but public land has the potential to be problematic if your state or region has rules. For example, national parks sometimes require a permit. Always ask permission first!
Likewise, steer clear of heavily developed areas, trails, and sources of drinking water. In the U.S., a pet’s ashes must be scattered 3 nautical miles from land (at a minimum).
Questions to Ask Crematory Staff
If this is your first time dealing with the death of a pet, you probably have lots of questions. Choosing a pet cremation provider is an intimate and emotional decision. Naturally, you will want to talk with crematory staff about what to expect so that your family is prepared and ready when the time finally comes.
Here are 10 important questions to ask pet crematoriums.
- Are the crematory staff certified, trained, or licensed?
- Is private cremation an option?
- Can I say goodbye to my pet before the cremation begins?
- Are you open to different religious/cultural beliefs and death practices?
- Will I be charged extra to witness and be present at my pet’s cremation?
- Can you explain your pet cremation packages and pricing?
- How will my pet’s ashes be returned to me?
- When do I drop off my pet? What are your business hours?
- Is it possible for me to tour the facility beforehand?
- Do you scatter ashes on an owner’s behalf?
Losing a beloved pet can be emotionally overwhelming, especially if multiple family members and children are involved. That’s why it’s so important to ask questions ahead of time. When inquiring about pet cremation services over the phone or via email, ask to speak with crematory staff so you aren’t caught off-guard and can instead focus on what matters – planning for your fur baby.
Preparing for a Pet to Pass Away at Home: Steps to Take
A pet who is old or ill might pass away at home. For many pet owners, this is a personal choice not made lightly. Your pet may be more comfortable in their familiar surroundings. Additionally, their death could happen quite suddenly. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to know what to do with your pet’s body when they eventually pass.
First, seek out an emotional support buddy. If at all possible, have a friend or family member stay with you during this troubling time.
Next, phone your veterinarian. Inform them of your pet’s death.
Third, depending on the time of day, your vet might suggest dropping off your pet or having a professional come by to pick them up. This gives you time to calm down and make arrangements before the cremation takes place.
Fourth, wrap your pet’s body in a blanket, towel, or sheet. Gloves should be worn.
Finally, carefully place your wrapped up pet in a plastic bag. Either drop off at the veterinarian’s office or crematorium. In case neither are open, temporarily keep them in a refrigerated or cool place as a means of pet aftercare.
5 Helpful Ways to Cope with the Grief of Losing of a Pet
Pets are our loyal companions through thick and thin. Naturally, losing them is a distressing experience. While one day you look back upon the happy memories, right now, you are in the middle of a grieving process. To ease the pain, here are a few ways to heal after losing a pet.
1. Express your Emotions
Sadness, loneliness, pain, anger, regret, and even guilt are frequently felt when a pet dies. Don’t ignore these emotions. Instead, allow yourself to mourn. Crying is actually healthy – it releases stress hormones.
2. Practice Self-Care Essentials
Go for a walk. Eat nutritious food. Ensure you’re getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Losing a pet can disrupt daily routines, so it’s crucial that you practice self-care.
3. Ask for Support from Family and Friends
Worried your family members won’t understand what you are going through? Plenty of online and in-person pet bereavement groups exist too.
4. Don’t Rush the Grief Process
Everyone grieves differently. For some, it’s a long and private affair and for others it’s shorter and something they don’t mind talking about publicly. Do what’s best for you.
5. Celebrate the Happy Times and Memories
The #1 way to cope with losing a pet: remember the good times! Focus on all the wet kisses, the fluffy cuddles, the laughter and the smiles.
Death is a natural part of life. Yes, it can be extremely painful. After all, pets are more than furry friends – they become our family members! Hopefully, your pet has many golden years ahead of them. Yet even though their passing might be far off in the future, it’s never too early to begin thinking about pet cremation and how to honor your best friend’s legacy.
At Memorials.com, our staff is here to support you.
We offer the largest selections available worldwide of memorials, urns, headstones, grave markers in bronze and granite, cremation urns, caskets, cremation jewelry, flag cases, memorial rocks, keepsakes, statues, cremation art as well as pet memorials, pet urns, pet cremation jewelry, pet keepsakes, pet grave markers and pet caskets and many other memorial and funeral related products for humans and pets.
Preserve the memory of your loyal companion forever by visiting our online store.
For pet owners, cremation is one final act of love.