Your Complete Guide to the Pet Cremation Process

When dealing with the loss of a loved one - whether it's a family member, friend, or a beloved pet - it can be difficult to set everything in motion for post-passing care. Therefore, it's essential to start the planning process early. We don't like to think about pet cremation or burial because we don't want to confront the idea of our special friend passing away. Despite how difficult it may be, knowing your options well beforehand can help you deal with the pain once their time comes.

Dealing with the Loss of a Pet

pet cremation

Unfortunately, it's impossible to fully prepare yourself for the loss of a pet. No matter how much prep work you do, the passing of your loved one will hit you in unexpected ways. The good news? There are several ways to help you deal with this loss.

Preparing Ahead of Time

Trying to prepare for the loss of a pet is something most people try to avoid. However, discussing your options with your family and your pet's care team in advance can go a long way in helping you understand the process before grief makes it that much harder.

When you try to do it all after your pet's passing, your mind may not be able to process all the information thrown your way. From understanding why your pet has passed to having to choose between burial and cremation, where their remains will go, and how to live your day-to-day life without your best friend, it can be completely overwhelming.

So, while it may be difficult to imagine your life without your pet, preparing in advance will help you get the details figured out so you can focus your attention on the grieving process and beginning to heal.

Things you'll want to take into consideration include:

  • Will your pet transition in the care of your vet or at home? Sometimes, this is completely out of your hands; however, it's worth planning if possible.
  • Do you want to bury your pet, or will you have them cremated?
  • If you are choosing to cremate your pet, what are your options for pet crematoriums?
  • If you're going to cremate your pet, will you be keeping their ashes with you, or do you want them scattered?

Understanding the Grieving Process

It doesn't matter if you are dealing with the loss of a pet or the loss of family or friends - the grieving process is the exact same, and it begins the moment you realize the end is approaching.

The process typically begins with a level of denial:

  • It's not time for them to go.
  • There are more treatment options to try.
  • There is someone out there that can help, etc.

Even once their pet has passed, individuals tend to sit in disbelief that their beloved friend has left them. This can sometimes lead to begging a higher power to bring their pet back or extend their life just a little longer because you simply aren't ready to let go just yet.

From there, many pet owners begin to feel anger and guilt:

  • What did they do wrong?
  • Why didn't their care team do more?
  • Why didn't they know something was wrong (in the case of unexpected tragedy)?

These feelings can often be so strong that the pet owner lashes out at anyone they can. It's not something to take personally; this means they are right on the verge of accepting the reality that is.

Finally, once that reality does hit, the pet owner and their family will feel genuine grief and sadness. There is likely to be some level of withdrawal as things really start sitting in, and that could lead to depression.

While all of this is a normal part of the grieving process, it's important not to settle into this depression without developing healthy coping mechanisms to help you through it.

Coping with Your Grief After Losing a Pet

When dealing with the loss of a pet, it's crucial to have the right coping mechanisms to help with the grieving process. If you don't, your mental health can suffer significantly.

Here are a few ways to help you cope with your grief during this difficult time:

  • You must acknowledge your loss. Your feelings are valid, and you shouldn't tell yourself otherwise.
  • Express your feelings. Whether you are writing in a journal or talking to friends and family members, you want to find an active way to express your grief. Not only will you be acknowledging these feelings, but you'll also be actively releasing them instead of stuffing them deep within.
  • Switch up your daily routine. Trying to return to "life as usual" can seem impossible after losing your pet, and that's okay. Changing up your daily routine is an excellent way to help you cope because it gets you "out of your head" and allows you to focus your attention on something new entirely.

Everyone copes differently, so don't be afraid to try different methods to see what works best for you.

What is a Pet Crematorium? What Should I Expect?

As mentioned earlier, preparing yourself in advance is an excellent way to help you through the grieving process. While some people choose to bury their beloved pet, a large majority of pet owners now choose cremation because it allows them to honor their pet's transition. They can then decide to either keep their ashes or have them buried or even scattered.

If cremation is the path you choose for your pet, then you'll want to make sure you take enough time planning what pet crematorium you'll be using and familiarize yourself with their expectations.

A pet crematorium is the same as a typical crematorium used for humans. Sometimes crematoriums do both human and pet cremations, although there are many out there that only cater to animals.

Once you've decided to visit pet crematoriums, you'll want to familiarize yourself with what you will likely encounter upon visitation. In most cases, you'll be greeted by a friendly staff member and given a tour of the facility, allowing you to become familiar with the process of cremation and pick out options for urns or keepsakes.

The most common setup you'll find when working with most pet crematoriums will include:

  • The memorial room - This is where you'll choose your pet's cremation urn and be able to browse the available keepsakes that the crematorium has available. Some keepsakes will even allow you to use some of your pet's ashes to be made into stunning pieces of jewelry or glass artwork.
  • Business office - This is where you'll be able to sit down and plan out the details of your pet's cremation, discuss your specific wants and desires.
  • Viewing room - While many pet owners will choose a private cremation where there are no witnesses to the process (it can be quite difficult for some people to handle), pet crematoriums that do offer a witnessed cremation will have a room dedicated for viewing the process.
  • Cremation room - This room is where the cremation chamber is housed and where the process takes place.

Remember, it's entirely acceptable to visit pet crematoriums and ask for a tour so you can get an idea of the process.

What Does the Pet Cremation Process Look Like? 

One of the aspects of death that leaves most people feeling uncomfortable is the unknown of what happens once your loved one or pet passes. For many, the idea of cremation is intimidating because it's not something that is talked about regularly. One of the best ways to prepare for the loss of a pet is to understand what the cremation process looks like from start to finish.

Your Pet Will Be Dropped Off or Picked Up

The initial step in the pet cremation process is getting them to the crematorium. If they pass away suddenly or are euthanized in the comfort of your home, then you'll likely need to drop them off at your chosen crematorium yourself. However, in the case of home euthanasia, those administering the medication may offer to take the pet to your chosen crematorium for you.

Another thing to consider is whether your chosen crematorium offers pick-up services. While not all do, there are many out there who offer to come to pick up your beloved pet from either your home or your vet's office once they have passed on.

You'll also want to speak with your vet's office to see if they will deliver your pet to the crematorium or if they'll require you to do the transporting yourself.

You'll Decide What Type of Cremation Process Suits Your Preference

Depending on the pet crematorium you decide to work with, there may be several different cremation processes to choose from. The most common include:

  • Private cremation - This service allows your animal to be cremated on its own in a private chamber. This ensures that the ashes you receive are that of only your pet.
  • Communal cremation - This cremation service is a little different in that your pet will share a cremation chamber with other pets. This service is often chosen over private cremations because it costs less; however, there is a chance that the remains you receive may include some from the other pets in the chamber.
  • Witness cremations - This is a service that allows pet owners to witness the process from a designated viewing room. Some choose this option to help them with their grieving process because they can see that their beloved pet is being properly respected.

Each cremation process comes with its pros and cons, and you'll want to make sure you talk with the crematorium and your loved ones to determine which option is right for you.

The Pet Cremation Process

After deciding on the cremation service that best suits you and your pet, it's time to move forward. Once your pet arrives at the crematorium and it's time for their service, they will be placed in the cremation chamber.

Once sealed in, the chamber's temperature is brought up to between 1400 and 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme heat essentially vaporizes the organic matter and reduces your pet's remains to ashes.

While most of your pet's remains will break down completely during the cremation process, some larger materials will not. In that case, those remains will be turned into a powder and combined with the rest of your pet's ashes.

What to Expect After the Cremation Process is Complete

Once the process is completed, your pet's ashes are left to cool down before being placed in your chosen container. Then, they are either returned to you or disposed of as previously discussed.

Sometimes a pet is cremated while wearing their tags or with surgical equipment (such as pins or plates that were used during previous procedures) within their bodies. Once the remains have cooled and before they are placed in the chosen container, someone will go through and remove any metals. In the case of tags, they may be returned to the owner along with their pet's ashes.

If the remains are to be returned to you, it is up to you how to proceed once they are in your possession. Many pet owners choose to display their pet's urn, allowing them to remain a constant part of their life, while others choose to bury or scatter their pet's ashes to help them along their journey to the afterlife.

Pet Cremation: Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have some questions regarding pet cremation, you aren't alone. Here are a few additional frequently asked questions most pet owners have:

Bring Your Beloved Friend Home with Pet Cremation

Saying goodbye to a beloved pet will never be an easy process, no matter who is involved.

However, understanding the grieving process and what happens to your pet once they pass on can significantly reduce any unease or anxiety surrounding the situation, so you can spend your pet's final days knowing what comes next.