After the heartbreaking loss of a pet, or the realization that a pet is near death, it is a challenge to have to think about next steps, and what to do with your pet’s physical remains. Your veterinarian can likely help steer you through some of the options, as well as any local laws regarding burial or disposal of your pet. One option is pet cremation, which offers you the opportunity to have your pet’s ashes to keep, scatter, or bury. Find out about how cremation works, the various pet cremation methods, and the costs entailed.
How Pet Cremation Works
During cremation, the animal’s body is placed within a small, enclosed space, which is heated to a very high temperature. With heat as high as 1500 to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, the time required to cremate your pet is generally mere hours. The result will be ashes and bone fragments. If your pet has any metal parts within their body, such as plates or screws from surgery, these items will be visible at this point, and can be returned to you by request. Next, the remains of your pet post-cremation are pulverized, resulting in a fine gray ash, which is placed carefully in a plastic bag.
These ashes can often be respectfully disposed of at the crematorium itself -- many of them have a memorial grounds for this purpose. Alternately, you can keep the ashes, and either store them within a decorative urn, bury them, or sprinkle them somewhere.
The costs for cremating a pet are determined by a few different factors, including where you live, the weight of your pet, how you want your pet cremated, and the cost of an urn if you want a decorative one. Generally, for pets fifty pounds or less, cremation costs around $100; for larger pets, the cost is closer to $200 or more. Some crematoriums may also charge for transportation of your pet’s remains, as well as for the return of the ashes.
The Three Types of Cremation
There are three basic types of cremation available, and your decision about which to choose would most likely be influenced by your intent with the ashes. The cremation process can be:
- Private - During a private cremation, your pet is alone in the cremation space, which is carefully cleaned between use. This option is often a good one if you plan to keep your pet’s ashes, since you can be assured that the ashes you have are only from your pet.
- Communal - In a communal cremation, several animals are cremated at once, and their remains are combined. This may make sense if you are not taking your pet’s ashes with you.
- Partitioned - With a partitioned cremation, several pets are cremated at one time, but efforts are made to keep space between them, so that each pet has distinct ashes. Some co-mingling of the ashes remains inevitable.
Making Your Decision
Although it can be a difficult conversation, it’s very important that you inquire about the types of cremation provided, and figure out which one makes the most sense for you, based on cost and what you want to do with your pet’s ashes. At some crematoriums, it is an option for you and your family and friends to be present during the process. Your vet can recommend reputable services, and make sure you have weighed all of your options properly during this difficult and emotional time, as you deal with both practicalities and sorrow over the loss of your pet.
More on Pet Costs
Reasonable Pet Vaccination Costs
The Annual Vet Visit Cost: What to Expect
The 2013 Pet Healthonomics Report: Survey Results