Pet Aftercare: A Guide to Burial and Cremation Options

Your pet quickly becomes family. Caring for your animal is a heart-warming experience, but there may come a point when your pet is about to pass over the rainbow bridge. When they do pass on, you must think about aftercare.

Pet burial services

Perhaps you’re considering the:

A lot of owners will bury their beloved animals near their driveway so that they can watch over them in the afterlife or in their favorite spot in the yard. You can choose from many final arrangements, but you should decide on one thing first: cremation vs. burial.

Cremation vs Burial: A Difficult Choice

You have two options for your pet: cremation or burial. The choice you make will impact your final arrangements.


If you bury your pet, you have a few options:

  • Pet cemetery burial
  • Private burial

Pet cemeteries are an option if you don’t have space to bury your pet or you plan on leaving your home at some point. A benefit of a pet cemetery is that you can visit your pet well after you leave the home that you live in.

However, if you plan on staying in your home for the long-term, you may want to consider a private burial.

You need to verify with local ordinances if you’re legally allowed to bury your pet in the yard. If you’re allowed, this type of burial can be very personal and allow you to choose a space that your pet will absolutely love.

Many owners will bury their pets in their yards in strategic locations, such as near the tree their cat always climbed or overlooking a prime spot.


A pet cremation service is another option and allows you to keep and/or spread your pet’s ashes in the future. You can choose from a few cremation services:

  1. Private cremation
  2. Communal cremation

Private cremation means that just your pet’s ashes will be cremated and it allows you to take the ashes home. Communal cremation is another option that is more affordable and allows you to cremate your pet with other pets.

If you choose a communal option, all of the pet ashes are combined, you won’t receive them.

The pet crematory may spread the entirety of the ashes in a “final resting spot.” If you’re considering pet cremation urns or pet ashes jewelry or want to spread the ashes in an area where you can visit and mourn, you will want to choose a private cremation.

Final Arrangement Options for Your Pet

Now that you know of the two main options for your animal: pet burial or cremation, let’s consider all of your final arrangement options further to find one that is perfect for your pet.

Green Cemeteries

Green cemeteries are a popular choice because they allow your pet to go “back to the earth.” For example, you lose a dog, and you decide that you want to bury your pet. The burial is in a “casket” made from:

  • Paper
  • Wood
  • Wicker
  • Any biodegradable casket

The casket uses special glues or other materials that keep it closed and together without impacting the environment. Materials cannot be toxic, so keep this in mind. When the pet is buried in the cemetery, the casket will eventually degrade.

Your pet will go back to the earth and be part of the lifecycle.

Of course, you’ll need to find a green cemetery in your location that offers this kind of service. Green cemeteries are a fantastic option if you want to honor your beloved pet and have the least impact on the environment possible.


Cremation is associated with fire, flames and burning. But you also have an alternative cremation option called aquamation

What is aquamation?

It's a method of cremation that saves 90% of the energy that a fire cremation uses and uses water to help your pet return to the earth. You won’t harm the environment or have to worry about your pet adding to the direct emissions that cremation offers.

The method relies on water flow, alkalinity and temperature to breakdown the body, much like what happens if you were buried in the ground without a casket.

You can still add ashes to dog urns or feline urns.

But there are a few differences:

  • 20 – 30% less ashes are produced
  • Inorganic materials are left

You won’t need to have a casket either.

Communal Cremations

pet urns for ashes

Communal cremation is a great choice for you if you want to save money on your pet aftercare. You'll have your pet’s body added to a group of pets, and they’ll all be cremated at the same time.


  • Reduce your cost
  • Cremate your pet

However, you won’t have the opportunity to have your pet’s ashes. You will not be able to scatter the pet’s ashes in the backyard or a special place where your pet loved being. With that said, many people opt for communal cremation because the alternative is more expensive.

DIY Ash Spreading

We use the word “DIY” here very loosely. Your pet still needs to be cremated by a professional. You'll have the opportunity to choose a pet urn – if you want one – and then be able to spread your pet’s ashes.

A lot of people opt to spread ashes in:

  • The park
  • Their yard
  • The ocean

And some people will keep the pet’s urn for the rest of their lives. You can place the urn on a mantle or choose to make a special place in your home to honor your pet.

The downside of an individual cremation is that you’ll pay more for this type of service than you would with a communal cremation.

DIY Pet Burial

Similar to the last section, you don’t need to have someone else bury your pet. You can opt to pay a pet cemetery to bury your pet and have the option to visit the grave whenever you see fit.

But if you want to bury your pet in the backyard or somewhere else, you can choose a DIY burial.

The one note is that every locale has different restrictions on burials. You may not be able to bury your pet in the backyard, nor may you be able to spread their ashes at a local park. It's up to you to do your due diligence and ensure that you’re putting your pet to rest in a manner that is legal.

Memorializing Your Pet

You may want to memorialize your pet to honor them and always keep them close to your heart. Some people will take photos or make collages of the great moments with their animals, but you have other options that you may not even know about:

  • Pet jewelry: Bracelets, anklets, earrings, necklaces and other forms of jewelry can contain a small part of your pet’s ashes. Your piece of jewelry will have a small compartment on it that you can fill with a very small portion of your pet’s ashes. Many of these items look just like a normal piece of jewelry, so no one needs to know that you’re walking around with your pet’s ashes. The remaining ashes can be spread in any way that you like.
  • Artwork: Artists are finding beautiful ways to make art to remember your pet. Some artists will add ashes into the paint and make a painting with it. You can also have an artist make artwork that looks like your pet and doesn’t use their ashes. The options are limitless. Pottery and glass are also being made with pet ashes to memorialize an animal.
  • Diamonds: Synthetic diamonds can be made with your animal’s hair or ashes. The process will need to be performed by a professional lab that manufactures these types of diamonds. You can then keep the diamond or have someone add it to a piece of jewelry for you.
  • Plant a tree: Burying or cremating an animal does provide nutrients to the earth when you place the remains in the ground. You can plant a tree in this area, allowing the pet to nourish the tree. As it grows, the tree will remind you of your pet every time you see it.

On top of these three ideas, you can also have engraved plaques with your pet’s name and date of birth. Quotes and even etches that look similar to your animal can be engraved into the plaque and you can hang it on the wall or place it wherever you wish.

Headstones can be made and placed at the burial location or even the area where you spread your pet’s ashes.

If you do have your animal cremated, it’s not uncommon for owners to:

  • Place the urn on a mantle or side table
  • Place a picture of the animal next to the urn

Pet aftercare is the last thing a pet owner ever wants to think about. If you do lose your pet or they’re close to passing, the options above will make the time after the loss a lot easier. You have a lot to consider, and the choice is a personal one that you’ll need to make.


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