Body Care Arrangements:
Burial or Cremation
Thinking about options ahead of time will give you and your family the opportunity to discuss how you would like to memorialize your beloved pet.
- Family cabin or farm or property
- Pet cemetery
Factors to consider:
- Will the city/county/development allow pet burials? Check local ordinances.
- Is it winter? Is the ground is frozen? Could you bury ashes in the spring?
- Will you always live in the area or have access to the burial ground?
- What will you surround the body with: special blankets or a handmade wood box or a cardboard box or a biodegradable casket? Include a special toy or note or flower? Keep collar with you or on the pet’s body?
Body transport options:
Consider which option gives you the best peace of mind for your body care concerns. Think about how much time you may need with your pet’s body to process the shock of the loss. Minutes, hours, days? The choice is yours. There are no right or wrong answers. Everyone is different.
- Do you wish to take your pet’s body to the cremation facility or vet clinic yourself? (Line your vehicle or box with plastic, then towels and blankets to contain leaking urine.) Do you want to go there the same day or the next day? Do you need help lifting? Do you wish to be present for the cremation? View the cremation?
- Less involvement in the cremation process may be desirable: (1) The crematory can pick up your pet’s body from your home the same day or the next day. Are you OK with meeting another service at your home during your private time of grief? (2) Your mobile veterinarian can transport your pet’s body for you after giving you time with the body following the home euthanasia. Most home visits last 30-60 minutes. Mobile vets use a home freezer system similar to a vet clinic for temporary cold storage while awaiting cremation pick up. Are you OK with this system? Set aside two large towels and a blanket or bed sheet that the vet can keep for gently wrapping the body.
- How do I know that my pet’s remains are treated respectfully and that I am really getting only my pet’s ashes back? You may be best reassured by bringing your pet’s body to the crematorium yourself. You can visit and interview the pet cremation facilities in your area beforehand to choose the most comfortable facility for your needs. Google “pet+cremation+your city”.
- Do you want a fur clipping? Consider what areas you would like fur from. Set aside a plastic or cellophane bag or ribbon to tie longer locks of fur.
- Do you want a clay paw print impression?
- You may not need any ashes returned. This is called group or communal cremation. Your pet will be cremated close together with other pets and their mixed ashes will be scattered in a designated area or landfill if the crematory does not have enough property for spreading. Does your crematory have a public walking area and allow visiting the scatter area or is the scatter area private/not designed for public access?
- Yes, I do want ashes returned. Do you need ashes back ASAP or in a week or two? Are you comfortable with ashes being shipped to your home from the crematory? Do you prefer hand delivery from the mobile vet? Where is the best place for shipping or delivery: home, work, friend, family, pick up at regular vet clinic or emergency clinic?
Memorial Service Options:
Some families may want to have time with their pet after death. You may want the support of friends, family members, and other pets in the household. Consider where you wish to gather: at home, at a special location, at the cremation facility? When will you all be together? Meet at the home euthanasia visit or at a later time? You may want to plan a gathering that does not involve the body of the pet. Think about incorporating important family or religious rituals:
- Read a special poem, remembrance, or scripture
- Display memorial items (a drawing, children’s memorial artwork, note to the pet, handmade box, collar, fur clipping, photos, toys, blankets, clay paw print)
- Plant a tree/flower/bush (PetTree.com or MyEternalFamilyTree.com)
- Light candles as a tribute
- Share stories and videos of the pet and your family
Memorialization Options (more info under Grief Resources tab):
- Rock, garden stone, burial marker
- Various wood, metal, or photo urn options (BestFriendServices.com)
- Bury ashes in a special location
- A piece of art done to depict your pet’s personality (Pet Portraits By Bethany or The Pet Sketcher)
- A box to hold your pet’s paw print or a ribbon tied around a fur clipping
- Locket jewelry to hold a bit of the pet’s ashes or fur (EternallyWithMe.com or JewelryKeepsakes.com)
- Inscription ideas: Nicknames? A saying: “Our Beautiful Beau” “Forever In Our Hearts” “Our Beloved Maggie” “Until We Meet Again At The Rainbow Bridge” Dates: birth date/adoption date to death date