Pet cremations and burials: your options explained

Dog tombstone in cemetery.

If your pet has passed away it’s natural to have questions about planning the right goodbye. You might want to keep things simple. Or you might like to have a memorial to remember them by. We’ll look at your options for organising a pet cremation or burial, so you can decide which is the best choice for you.

Cremating a pet

There are several options to consider when it comes to cremating a pet. If you’re thinking about cremation here are a few things you should know before you make your choice.

How to organise a cremation for your pet

When it comes to organising a pet cremation, you have 3 main options:

Let your vet take care of the cremation.

After a pet dies many people choose to let their vet take care of the cremation. This means you don’t need to worry about making any arrangements. But keep in mind this could mean that your pet is cremated along with other pets. This is known as a communal cremation. If this happens, it’s not possible to have your pet’s ashes returned to you. But this isn’t the only option when it comes to cremating a pet. If getting a pet cremated in this way doesn’t feel right, you have other options too.

Ask your vet about an individual cremation.

Some vets may be able to offer an individual cremation for your pet. This means that your pet will be cremated on their own. And their ashes can be returned to you. But it’s likely that you won’t be able to attend the cremation. You may have to pick the ashes up from the vet or they may be delivered to you at home. Different vets will offer different services for individual pet cremation depending on the crematorium they work with. So make sure you check that you’re happy with the details before getting a pet cremated in this way.

Book a private cremation with a pet crematorium. 

If you’d like to cremate your pet and attend a funeral service for them that’s more personal you can plan this with a pet crematorium directly. They can organise everything for you, from transporting your pet from the vets to the crematorium to organising a bespoke casket and urn for their ashes. By choosing a private cremation for your pet the service can be bespoke. So you can choose the details, such as a photo of them at the service, or a specially-made memorial urn for their ashes.

How does a pet cremation work?

A pet cremation is similar to human cremation. Once the cremation has finished, the ashes will be put into a container. If you’d like to, you can then collect the ashes so that you can keep them, scatter them or bury them.

How long does a pet cremation take? 

A pet cremation usually takes about 30-45 minutes. Though a cremation for larger pets, such as horses, can take a lot longer. The crematorium won’t expect you to stay during the cremation. If you have a funeral service at the crematorium, it’s normal for the actual cremation to take place after the service, once you and your guests have left.

How much does it cost to cremate a pet? 

The cost of cremating a pet will depend on how large or small the animal is. Because cremation of larger animals takes longer, these usually cost more.

Burying a pet

Where can you bury a pet? How much does it cost? Here’s what you need to know about pet burials so that you can decide if it’s the most suitable send-off for your companion.

Can you bury a pet in a cemetery? 

Most local authorities won’t allow you to bury a pet in a traditional cemetery for humans. But you can bury a pet in a licensed pet cemetery. Some of these pet cemeteries will also allow both human and pet ashes to be buried together. This is also allowed at some natural burial sites where the aim is to have the most eco-friendly burial possible.

Can you bury a pet in your garden? 

In the UK it’s legal to bury a pet in your garden as long as you own the property. There’s no need to get permission. But you can’t bury a pet in a public place such as a park. There are also some rules you’ll need to follow if you’re going to bury a pet at home. These are:

For more info on burying a pet read the environment’s agency rules on the government website.

How much does it cost to bury a pet? 

There’s no charge to bury a pet at home. But you may want to pay for a coffin or casket to place your pet in before they’re buried. Alternatively, burying a pet in a licensed pet cemetery will cost significantly more. You’ll be paying for the coffin or casket, the size of the burial plot, the services that the pet cemetery provide, as well as any other memorials you choose to have at the burial site.

What about burying pet ashes with a tree? 

If burying a pet in your garden doesn’t feel quite right you could consider burying their ashes at home instead. After their cremation you could buy a special pot in memory of them, scatter their ashes inside along with soil and plant a young tree in memory of them. This is an alternative way of making sure your pet has a physical memorial that’s close by.

How to find a pet crematorium or pet cemetery

The pet burial and cremation industry isn’t regulated so it’s best to ask your vet and local pet crematoriums and cemeteries about the services they provide before deciding what to do. If you’re looking for a pet crematorium or cemetery that’ll treat your pet with care and respect The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria sets standards for its members. You can find pet cemeteries or crematoria who follow the APPCC standards here.

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