For many families, the family dog or cat has become a solidified and loved member of the family. We spend years with them, loving and caring for them, and in return, receive their unconditional love and affection. They fill our lives with joy and pleasure and happiness, and upon their inevitable and unfairly early departure, we often find ourselves filled with tremendous and unexpected feelings of loss and emptiness. To honor beloved family pets, many families now opt to have their remains cremated.
If you and your family decide to cremate your pet's remains, the next question to ask is what your options are for what to do with those cremated remains, especially when you're looking to do so in a way that ensures the environment remains protected and unharmed. Here are some considerations and ideas for what you can do with your pet’s ashes following their passing.
Why Choose Pet Cremation
When a pet passes away, most veterinary clinics and animal hospitals provide clients with the option to have their pet cremated and receive those ashes back. It's not too expensive, and it allows a family the opportunity to find their own personal way to mourn the loss of their furry family member.
Cremation allows you to take the ashes from the facility and decide what you’d like to do with them. Pets cannot be buried in the same cemeteries as humans, and there are typically strict laws that don’t allow pets to be buried in most public and private spaces for health and safety reasons. This is why cremation is the best option.
With cremation, you have a number of ways to honor your pet’s life and say farewell at their passing without breaking any local or federal laws and regulations. Being able to have the closure that comes with such a farewell is something that can also be incredibly healing and make it easier to move forward after such a death.
Honoring Your Pet’s Life While Respecting the Environment
A powerful reason for having your pet cremated and deciding what to do with the ashes is that each family can personalize their experience to design whatever is going to be best for them. With the list below, you’ll find you can choose more than one option and create the best way to memorialize their life with a few different options. Read on to discover what eco-friendly options allow you to remember your beloved family pet.
Scattering Your Pet’s Ashes in a Special Location
Walking by the local dog park might be a powerful reminder of how much joy your dog had there on Sunday afternoons. Perhaps your cat loved to spend hours soaking in the sun on the lounge chair in your backyard. Whatever the location might be, something that’s special for your pets can make a perfect location spot for scattering the cremated remains of your pet.
Scattering ashes is also an environmentally friendly option when compared to burying your pet in a casket or box (scattering urns) that won’t decompose. It allows the ashes to simply dissolve into the dirt and earth around the area you scatter them. The particles are so small they vanish fairly quickly.
Here are a few considerations regarding scattering the ashes of your pet:
Location: Select a place that carries some meaning or significance for you and your family. Some might opt for the woods or local forest; others might go for a dog beach. Some might choose a simple park along their daily dog walking trail. Don't rush and take time to consider what may be important or carry special meaning.
Time of day: What time of day might you want to scatter these ashes? Is it a quick walk-by, or do you plan to do something more ceremoniously? This might be easier or more challenging in some locations based on the time of day or the number of people who are generally in that area at that particular time.
Traffic: Are there a lot of people and animals walking by the area you’re considering? Is it an area that’s going to be difficult to get a moment of privacy in? Consider whether you’ll be able to comfortably release the ashes and give a final farewell. Having tons of people walking by is not only something that might impact the privacy of the moment, but it also might mean you can’t scatter the ashes. It’s important to not disturb others with the ashes or intrude on a public space by scattering ashes that can bother others.
Amount: For larger animals, there will be far more ashes than smaller animals would have produced. This means you can scatter some, bury others, or decide to save some of the ashes for sentimental cremation jewelry.
Burying Your Pet's Ashes in Biodegradable Urns
If a family prefers to mix a burial with the cremation process, this can be easily done with the help of biodegradable urns. This is an environmentally-friendly option that allows a family to use a container that degrades over a short time into the earth, releasing the ashes back into the ground as it does so.
Biodegradable urns can be crafted from a variety of earth-safe materials. Some are made from the bark of mulberry trees, which richen the soil and help replenish it. Other biodegradable urns are made from a combination of sand and gelatin, both sustainable materials that are designed to dissolve in the water shortly after being placed in it, leading to disintegration within minutes. Another option includes cremation urns made from recycled paper, which is designed to break down naturally over time in both earth and water, as well as an option that's made from Himalayan salt, which takes much longer to dissolve but dissolves nonetheless.
Although individual instructions may vary depending on the type of material used, they should typically be buried between 6-12 inches beneath the surface of the ground. This not only protects them from rising to the surface but also helps keep them protected from animal scavengers, rainy waters, and turned-up terrain.
These earth-safe materials make the process not only more sustainable for the environment but also bring forward the idea of the cycle of life and that each life is returned to the earth as part of the natural progression of things. It's a way to remind us all that we're part of the earth, and from that earth, new life can be reborn.
Eco-Friendly Tree-Growing Cremation Urns
This option is somewhat similar to the biodegradable urn option but with an added layer. Some cremation urns are not only biodegradable but are crafted as a pod carrier for seeds. When the ashes are placed inside the biodegradable container, there are small seeds that are also inserted into the biodegradable container. When the container is buried in the ground, the seed is implanted into the earth. After a time, the seed grows into a bush, plant, or tree that flourishes.
It’s a wonderful way to mark a remembrance place and allow new life to grow after an old life. The new plant is a powerful reminder of the love once had for a beloved pet and is also a sustainable and eco-friendly option that gives back to the earth. Some options can be planted in movable planters that you can shift around the house, while others might better serve outdoors to allow them to grow into a strong, beautiful tree. There are plenty of options, so whether you have a house with a yard or an apartment, these can be an excellent choice for your pet's cremated ashes.
Memorial Markers for Pet’s Ashes
Memorial markers that function as a decorative yet memorable reminder of your pet’s life and your love for them are a powerful yet simple way to recognize them while also avoiding any environmental impact.
These markers can be crafted from a variety of materials and can be shaped in many different ways depending on the method and manufacturer. Some options are done as concrete pavers that are stamped with names, minimal images, dates, or quotes. Others can be made from engraved plaques made from certain metals or even glass that have meaningful engravings carved into the surface, like a paw print. Others are made with pebbled steppingstones that can also be marked with names, dates, and the like.
Some options even allow the ashes to be poured into the concrete as a mix, which is a nice option if a family were to move. This would allow you to transport the entire piece, ashes included, without leaving it behind.
These markers can be purely symbolic, or they can be placed over the location where your pet’s ashes were buried or scattered. They can be placed next to the tree that grew if you used a bio-tree option that grew from your pet’s ashes. They are easily moved and can be placed in special locations both inside and outside the home, which allows added flexibility as well.
Cremated Pet Remains and the Right Choice for You
There's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to what to do with your pet's cremated ashes. When it comes to remaining sustainable and eco-friendly in your approach, you also don't need to pick only one option. Families can decide to use some ashes for a scattering ceremony while also an option for a memorial marker or a bio-tree to serve as a longstanding reminder of the love for their family pet, all while ensuring they do minimal to no harm to the environment.
Knowing your options is the first step. The second step is talking to your family about what they think is best and moving forward in the best way to bring closure and peace after the burden of loss.
There are many different ways to scatter ashes in the United States, and most states have favorable laws. Working with a funeral home or crematory may make the planning process less stressful and help you understand what is permitted and what is not permitted.
Doves, butterflies, and the Tree of Life are three profound and prominent symbols that represent life, death and rebirth. We incorporate these symbols tastefully in our urn collections, allowing you to memorialize your loved ones in ways that are meaningful to you.