Pet Cremation: Understanding the Process
by Alex Johnson October 16, 2020 5 min read
For many of us, our pets are seen as an extension of the family. They bring us unconditional love and loyalty, and yet, they’re only given a limited amount of time with us. The passing of a pet can be tremendously painful and difficult to manage. If you have a beloved pet who has recently passed, and are looking to know and understand your options, we’ve compiled this list to help you make an informed decision that leaves you feeling confident.
Pet Cremation v. Burial: Knowing Your Options
More families are choosing cremation for the remains for their pets. It is a simpler process, it gives you more options for where you can leave the remains as well as what to do with them, and it can be less expensive. It also is fairly easy to have done, as most veterinarian clinics and pet hospitals offer services for cremation within their own office.
If you elect for a burial of your pet, you have two options. The first location is to place the remains in a cemetery that is either made for pets or allows pets. Many traditional cemeteries do not allow the burial of pets in the same ground for the remains of humans. This means you will need to locate and contact a place that does allow it. The second location is on your own private property. This presents its own challenges, the first of which is the potential for wild animals or scavengers to find the remains and desecrate the burial spot. The second challenge is that if your family were to move, you would have to leave the burial behind.
Both simplicity and versatility are why cremations for pets has become the preferred option. It allows you to choose between sharing the ashes, storing them, keeping them in the home for safe keeping/remembrance, scattering the ashes in a special location, or using the ashes for sentimental items - like cremation jewelry or keepsakes.
How Do I Get a Pet Cremation?
Most veterinarian facilities and animal hospitals have a pet cremation business that they refer their customers to. If your pet dies in the hospital or has injuries and illnesses that lead to them being euthanized, the veterinarian clinic will give you the contact information for the cremation services.
Often, these facilities will help you with the process, giving you all pertinent information, contacts, contracts/paperwork, as well as handling the transport of the remains to the cremation facility themselves. This often makes the process easier, because you don’t have to arrange every detail and have the help and support of both the veterinarian and the cremation organization.
They will also give you upfront costs and fees for the entire process, as well as an explanation of the cremation itself. They should inform you as to whether the remains will need to be picked up, or if they will be delivered to your home.
If your pet passes away at home, you can either contact your veterinarian or conduct research to find local cremation services. Most cremation services have a mobile unit that will either come to your home to collect the remains, or they will do collections at the veterinarian clinic or hospital. They will give you upfront costs and fees, and let you know of any specific options you have.
How Does the Cremation Process Work?
The cremation process starts when the cremation business picks up the remains of your pet, either at the vet or at your home. They are always careful and respectful, and understand the pain you and your family are in. At the veterinarian clinic or hospital, this is usually within a few days and up to a full week, depending on the location and services. The animal remains in refrigeration for preservation until the moment of cremation.
The cremation process itself is done in one of two ways. The first way is the more traditional heat-incineration method. A high-temperature incineration machine is used to reduce the remains to fine ashes. If requested, each animal is done separately, and there is no mixing of the ashes among other family’s pets. Some organizations offer discounted rates for cremations if a family doesn’t mind mixed ashes. It will usually take anywhere from one to two hours for the incinerator to cremate the remains.
The second method is the called aquamation, which uses a specialized process to reduce the remains to fine ashes. Using a process called alkaline hydrolysis, the body is decomposed and broken down with a combination of water flow, specific temperatures, and controlled alkalinity. It’s an entirely green process, which is why it’s growing in use. It typically takes longer and can take up to a full week for larger animals.
Once the cremation is complete, the remains are placed into a plastic bag and then stored in a temporary cremation box. The box is either delivered to your house or arranged for pickup at your veterinary clinic.
What Should I Do with the Cremated Remains?
When it comes to the cremated remains of your beloved family pet, you have a number of options for what to do with the remains. Depending on your family’s personal preferences, this includes:
- Scattering: You can choose a special location, like the backyard or your pup’s favorite beach to romp on and scatter the ashes in that location. This allows them to rest for eternity and symbolically frees the spirit.
- Burial: If you still prefer a traditional burial, burying the ashes of your pet is easier than burying the bulk remains. You also don’t have to worry about animals scrounging the remains or burying the ashes in an officially approved cemetery.
- Display: One of the most popular approaches for families is to select a meaningful pet cremation urn that captures the spirit of their beloved animal. These can be tailored to the different sizes and preferences to suit both your home and your pet. They can even be engraved with words of love and commemoration.
- Jewelry: Cremation jewelry is a unique and meaningful way to keep your beloved pet close even after death. With an incredible selection of pet cremation jewelry, you can take a pinch of the ashes and place them into the jewelry.
- Blended: Part of the beauty behind cremation is that you don’t have to pick one single method for the cremated remains. If you want to spread some ashes to signify the freed spirit of your pet, and keep a small pinch for meaningful cremation jewelry, you can. You can also get small tealight urns for cremated pets, release some ashes and still have a pinch left for your jewelry.
Making the Right Choice for Your Pet
Pet cremations are a meaningful and significant way to remember the memory of your beloved family dog or cat. The process is easy and reliable, and you have so many options for what to do with the remains once you receive them. As a beloved member of the family, our pets have an irreplaceable role in our lives.
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