Pet Cremation: How to Plan

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You might be reading this article for any number of reasons. Perhaps you’re making advance preparations for your pet, in the event you pass unexpectedly — which is a wonderful and responsible way to honor your pet. You may also be planning ahead for an aging or ill pet. Making decisions in advance can make it easier to grieve when the time comes.

If you’re currently mourning the recent loss of a pet, we extend our sincere condolences to you. Losing a pet is never easy. Because our pets love us in return with such pure hearts, it can hurt as much — and sometimes more — than losing a person.

Wherever you’re at, we hope this article helps you better understand the process of pet cremation.

Why Choose to Cremate Your Pet?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. Burial or cremation is completely a personal choice. However, there are some scenarios in which a traditional pet burial can be challenging. In a cold climate, the burial may have to be postponed until the ground thaws. If a pet's remains are not buried to a sufficient depth, other animals may disturb the grave. In addition, if a pet is buried in a backyard, it will remain there even if the owner moves.

These issues are why many pet owners decide pet cremation is a good option for them. Some pet owners may also want to have their cremated pets to be buried with them someday, or mixed with their own ashes. Cremation allows for this flexibility.

Pet Cremation FAQ's

What is the cost of pet cremation?
Costs will vary by the individual pet cremation services and will be impacted by the additional services selected and if pet cremation urns or pet cremation jewelry are added into the costs. The basic costs of a pet cremation usually fall between $50 and $350. If cost is an issue, you may want to consider a free burial in your own backyard or private/public forested land (ask permission).

How long does a pet cremation take?
The length of a pet cremation will largely depend on the size of the animal. A smaller pet may be cremated in as little as 30 minutes while a large one could take up to 2 hours.

How am I assured the ashes I receive are those of my pet?
The reputation of a crematorium is based on making sure ashes are properly identified. It is simply good business to be diligent about this aspect of cremations. Some crematoriums will allow you to witness a cremation if this is a critical concern.

What will my pet ashes look like?
Ashes are usually a powdery grey/white substance. After cremation, any remaining pieces of bone are pulverized to achieve this consistency.

Do I have to have an pet urn before cremation happens?
Generally, no. You can request that the crematory places the ashes in a simple container for you to pick up while you take your time to locate an urn or decided to bury/scatter the ashes. If you buy an urn or pet urn jewelry, you can simply transfer the ashes yourself.

Steps for Planning a Pet Cremation

If you’ve decided that you would like to cremate your pet, here are a few steps to follow:

  1. Locate pet cremation services near you
    If you have a good relationship with your vet, you may want to start here. Ask if they have any pet cremation services that they can recommend. Otherwise, check out the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories site to find a pet crematory near you. Beyond asking about the crematory about costs, ask if they also offer transport of the body if your pet dies at home. Your vet may also be able to coordinate this transfer if your pet is put to sleep in the veterinary office.

  2. Opt for shared or private pet cremation
    Many pet cremation services will offer either private or shared cremations. In a shared cremation, multiple pets are cremated at the same time. If you wish to have the specific cremains, or pet ashes, returned to you, you will need to choose a private cremation. Ashes will usually be returned within a week or two in a sealed plastic bag and box. 

  3. Decide to scatter, bury, or store your pet’s ashes
    You can scatter your pet’s ashes somewhere special — like your cat’s favorite outdoor lounging spot or your dog’s favorite “go fetch” field.

    You can also bury the ashes in a yard, forest, or pet cemetery. However, there’s no rush to bury ashes. You could keep their cremains in an urn, and make a request that their ashes be buried with you someday. Some people have their pet’s cremains placed in their casket, or mixed with their own cremated ashes. Just make sure loved ones know your wishes. Cake helps you share unique end-of-life wishes like this with your family.

    Some families decide to keep the pet’s ashes in urns or even have pet cremation jewelry made as keepsakes. These pieces of jewelry store a tiny bit of the ashes you can wear. offers some beautiful options for pet urns and jewelry. If you’re looking for a more custom urn or jewelry piece, Etsy is a great place to commission exactly what you have in mind.

    Want something that will last forever? Eterneva makes stunning diamonds with your pet’s ashes. Did your cat have stunning blue eyes? Commission a blue diamond necklace to remind you of their brilliance. 

What if My Pet Outlives Me?

There is no guarantee that we will outlive our pets so it is wise and responsible to consider the furry counterparts we may leave behind someday. You can express your wishes for how you would want your pet to be cared for— and eventually cremated or buried-—by creating a Pet Care Plan. In doing so, you’ll be doing your pet and their new caretaker a great service.

If you create a pet care plan, you can upload and share it by creating a free Cake account. Beyond pet care, Cake helps you think through all of your own important healthcare, financial, funeral, and legacy decisions and documents.