Pet Cremation and Burial

Deciding What's Best For You and Your Pet

Pet CremationDeciding whether to choose pet cremation or burial is a deeply personal decision. Whether or not it is right for you, your family and your pet will depend on many factors including your religious beliefs, your financial situation, your access to resources, and what you are comfortable with.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both cremation and burial. For most people, cremation is the disposition of choice when it comes to pets. That’s because in general, cremation is more economical and in most areas, it is readily available. It is not, however, your only option.

Pet Cremation:

  • Pet Cremation can be an economical alternative to burial.
  • Having your pet cremated doesn’t mean you can’t have a memorial.
  • There are many private pet crematories that can help you take care of your pet. Most veterinarians can also make arrangements for you.
  • You can choose whether or not to have cremains returned to you.
  • There many unique and beautiful options available for storing pet remains and creating a lasting memorial.

Pet Burial:

  • Pet cemeteries can offer a comforting, sacred place to visit your pet’s remains.
  • Costs for pet burials can range widely depending on the type of casket and degree of personalization.
  • Home burial is a good option for many people but you should check to make sure that it is permitted in your area.
  • Your pet must be buried deep enough to prevent wildlife from disturbing the grave.
  • Remember that if you bury at home you may not be able to take your pet’s remains with you if you move.

Pet Cremation

Because of its affordability and accessibility, cremation is often the first choice for the final disposition of pets. If your pet has passed while you were working with a veterinarian, you may prefer to have the vet handle the cremation arrangments. If your pet has died at home or you would prefer to handle the arrangements yourself, you can contact a pet cremation facility directly. When you work directly with a cremation provider, they will work with you to make the experience as easy for you as possible. Most pet crematories with handle the transportation of your pet to their facility and return the remains to you when the process is complete. You should not be made to feel uncomfortable about asking questions. A reputable provider will want to make sure that you fully understand what will happen to your pet and do everything they can to make sure that your wishes are respected.

Types of Pet Cremation

There are several types of pet cremation. Be sure to talk with your vet or the cremation provider to make sure that you understand what services are offered and that you can choose the style of cremation that is best for you, your family, and your pet.

  • Private (Individual) Cremation: In a private cremation only one pet is cremated at a time. Your pet will be placed in the cremation chamber alone. This type of cremation ensures that the remains you receive back are not mixed with those of other animals. Private cremation will be the most expensive.
  • Semi-Private (Partitioned) Cremation: Some facilities provide the option to have your pet cremated with other animals but in a partitioned space. In other words, the pets are individually separated. Some facilities refer to this type of cremation and “Individual” so you need to make sure that you know exactly what type of cremation you are buying. The facility will do everything they can to keep your pet’s remains separate but it is possible that the ashes of another pet may mingle with yours. This type of cremation is generally less expensive than private cremation.
  • Communal (Group) Cremation: With communal cremation, the bodies of several pets are placed together in the chamber and cremated together. With communal cremation, the facility will accept responsibility for disposing of the ashes. Ashes are not returned to pet owners with this type of service. Group cremation is the least expensive service.

If you would like to attend the cremation, you may be able to do that. You should ask the cremation provider about witnessing the process.

Find Cremation and Burial Facilities in your area.

The process of cremation is relatively straightforward. If you would like to learn more about how the process takes place we recommend that you visit our page on the cremation process. While this page is not written specifically with pets in mind, the process is essentially the same as it is for humans.

Home Burial

Many people still prefer to bury their pets at home. With a home burial, you avoid the expense of having a service provider make arrangements, and you can design a very personal and private ceremony. Plus, you’ll be near your pet so that you can visit and keep up the grave. If you are considering a home burial there are some things you need to be aware of.

Is it Legal to Bury my Pet in my Backyard?

As a general rule, you will have to own the property you plan to use, but regulations on at-home burial vary by state and municipality. There are a number of factors such as how the animal died, the depth of your water table, and the type of soil you have that may play a part in whether or not you can bury at home. You should always make sure that the burial site you choose is in compliance with property lines and utility easements as well as zoning requirements. Before you decide whether to proceed with a home burial you should confirm legality by contacting your local city or county. You should also check your neighborhood deed restrictions.

Pet Cremation and Burial: Other Options

Veterinarian Disposal of Pet Remains

Most veterinarians are equipped to dispose of pet remains. While this is a convenient option, many people find that the practice can make saying good-bye abrupt, which can inhibit healing from grief. Often just the process of making plans for pet cremation or burial can start the healing process. When your vet takes care of disposal you are not involved with any of the details.

Donating Your Pet’s Body to Science

It is possible to donate your pet’s body to science. Some Humane Society branches offer this service as do various universities and veterinary colleges. The programs are similar to those for the donation of human bodies with students benefiting from research performed on deceased pets. The animals are most often used for the study of anatomy. After the research is complete the animal is cremated.

To take part in a donation program, contact schools in your area. They can help you with the paperwork and give you the details on what you need to do when the time comes. Be sure to share your plan with your vet and bring relevant paperwork with you when you bring your pet for his or her final appointment. Typically, the donor will need to contact the school so that they can make arrangements to receive the animal.

Remember, your unique circumstances will determine what is right for you and your family when it comes to pet burial and cremation. There are no right or wrong answers, only what is right for you and your pet.

Pet Cemeteries

Pet cemeteries are gaining popularity as a permanent resting place when home burial is not an option. Often, pet cemeteries offer full pet burial and cremation services, including facilities for holding a memorial service. You may also purchase a plot, casket, and grave marker, just as you would for a “two-legged” loved one. Most pet cemeteries can help transport your pet’s body from the place of its passing and many offer in-home veterinary services if you’ve decided to euthanize your pet. Full-service pet cemeteries also provide catering services for memorials for an additional fee.

Find Pet Cemeteries in your area.

When considering a pet cemetery, it is wise to do some research beforehand to ensure that you are engaging a service that operates ethically and within the local laws. The cemetery should be on “dedicated land” so that it is permanently zoned as a pet cemetery regardless of who owns it. Most veterinarians can provide you with information on local pet cemeteries.


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