For many pet owners, their furry friends become like another member of the family. Pet parents and their human children often enjoy creating memories with their pets for years. Their beloved four-legged family members are with them through birthdays, family vacations, anniversaries, school years, and all the ups and downs of life.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Are Pet Funeral Homes or Crematories?
- What Happens During a Pet Funeral at a Funeral Home?
- What Happens During a Pet Cremation at a Crematory?
- How Much Does a Pet Funeral or Cremation Typically Cost?
- Tips for Finding the Best Pet Funeral Home or Crematory Near You
When it comes time to say goodbye, more pet owners are asking for a gentler, more compassionate and dignified way to do it. Gone are the days where the only option for pet owners is saying a final goodbye in the vet’s office. Now, there are choices offered by pet funeral homes and crematories for a funeral, cremation, or celebration of life service that honors the unique role pets have in their owners’ lives.
What Are Pet Funeral Homes or Crematories?
Pet funeral homes and crematories are similar to human funeral homes and crematories. The primary difference is that funeral homes and crematories for pets only deal with pets, not with humans. In the same way, however, these two places provide dignified ways to say goodbye to pets, small and large.
Pet funeral homes
Pet funeral homes offer a full range of services including viewings, funeral services, memorial services, and celebration-of-life services. Like human funeral homes, pet funeral homes are full-service, meaning they can provide everything needed for a funeral from start to finish. They can provide pet owners with pre-need arrangements, so everything is set up before it’s needed, or offer services on an as-needed basis.
A funeral director is available to walk grieving pet families through the process of laying their pet to rest. They can assist with choosing a plot in a pet cemetery if the family chooses burial or provide a place for ash scattering if cremation is chosen. Some funeral homes offer pet cremation services in addition to burial services.
Pet funeral homes also provide a place for friends, family, and loved ones to gather together, much as you would with a human funeral. Many have a dedicated viewing room in addition to a room where a private service can be held.
Pet crematories provide cremation and ash scattering services. Depending on the crematory, they may offer families the option to have a viewing cremation, where the family is present when their pet is placed inside the cremation chamber. In addition to providing a private, family-friendly place to say goodbye to a pet, pet crematories often provide add-on services such as pet cremation jewelry, the option to purchase special urns, and coordination for scattering services.
What Happens During a Pet Funeral at a Funeral Home?
Pet funerals will run similarly to human funerals. The decisions regarding what types of elements you want for your pet’s funeral are entirely up to you. These are the typical things that occur at pet funerals, but keep in mind that these are general guidelines only. You can add or remove any of these items from your own pet’s funeral.
Preparation of your pet’s body
If you plan on having an open-casket funeral or want to have a viewing before the funeral, then a member of the funeral home staff will prepare your pet’s body. This includes making sure they are presentable and ready to be seen.
A time of viewing
Should you wish, the funeral home can prepare your pet to be viewed. A private room is set up with your pet resting peacefully in the casket. During this time, friends and family are invited to come and go per the family’s wishes. This portion of the service is typically anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour long.
Speeches, prayers, and poems
If the family wants to have a gathering, a time of sharing will occur next. The funeral home can move the pet to a larger room which is set up with a podium, audio/visual equipment, and chairs.
During this portion of the funeral service, family members can opt to read pre-chosen speeches, prayers, and poems. If a slideshow was created, that can be played, as well.
Some pet funeral homes are attached to a pet cemetery and can provide burial services, as well. If that’s the case, then the pet family can accompany their pet to the plot they chose and say one final goodbye before the casket is lowered into the ground.
Placing of a headstone
Pet cemeteries encourage families to purchase and place a headstone to mark their beloved pet’s grave. Just as with human graves, a headstone is a permanent marker that honors your furry friend. A headstone also provides you with a place to return to and visit, something to decorate on special occasions, and a way to easily locate your pet’s grave.
Note: The placing of a headstone usually occurs days to weeks after your pet is buried depending on when you ordered it and how much customization is required.
What Happens During a Pet Cremation at a Crematory?
Pet cremation is an alternative and dignified way to bid your furry friend a final farewell. The process is similar to human cremation. When finished, you’ll be provided with your pet’s cremains in an urn of your choosing.
As with a funeral service, you have options when it comes to the order of service for your pet’s cremation. Here is the general order of service for pet cremation.
Even though you plan on cremating your pet, pet crematories can still accommodate wishes for a private viewing. This occurs in a room specially set up for your family. Your pet will be placed in a casket and prepared for this time. Traces of illness or injury will be removed as much as possible to provide a peaceful time together.
A time of gathering
If you wish to gather with family and friends before the cremation, you can request a room to hold a service for your pet. During this time, you can read a eulogy, poem, or prayer, or play a slideshow you prepared of your pet’s pictures.
Pet cremation providers typically offer several cremation services including private, partitioned, or communal cremation.
Private cremation is where only your pet is cremated and their ashes are returned to you. Partitioned cremation is where your pet and other pets are cremated at the same time, but they’re separated by a partition and their ashes are returned to you. Communal cremation occurs when multiple pets are cremated together and their ashes are scattered on private land by a member of the staff for you.
If you opt for a private cremation, you may also have the option to view the cremation. This means you’ll observe your pet when it is placed inside the cremation chamber.
Return of cremains
After the cremation process is completed, your pet’s cremains will be returned to you in an urn of your choosing. If you purchased cremation jewelry from the crematory, these items will be given to you when you receive your pet’s ashes, or within a week or two depending on the item purchased.
Ash scattering service or inurnment
While you can certainly choose your own location to hold an ash scattering service, crematories can help coordinate this service, as well. They can also help coordinate an inurnment service.
Pet crematories typically have connections with pet cemeteries that have scattering gardens or a columbarium where you can place your pet’s urn.
How Much Does a Pet Funeral or Cremation Typically Cost?
The cost of pet funerals and cremations varies depending on the types of services you request and the availability of services in your area. The numbers here provide a general guideline.
The cost of a pet funeral can include items like services provided by the director or staff, a burial plot, casket, preparation of the body for viewing, and viewing or memorial services. Plan to budget a minimum of $700–$1,000 for a standard full-service funeral with a pine box casket.
If you want to save on cost, you can look into burying your pet on private property if it’s permitted in your area. You can also choose to use pet burial boxes instead of a casket purchased at the funeral home.
Like funeral services, pet cremation costs vary depending on the services you choose. Another factor that impacts cremation pricing is the weight of your animal. In general, private cremation typically runs from around $150 to $300. Partitioned cremation costs around $50 to $150, and communal cremation is around $25 to $150.
Tips for Finding the Best Pet Funeral Home or Crematory Near You
If you’re looking for a pet funeral home or crematory, here are several things to consider during your search.
Look for affiliations
Pet funeral homes and cremation services should have affiliations that back up their claim to be a professional service. Two affiliations to look for include accreditation from the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories, and membership with the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance.
If the funeral home or crematory has these affiliations, you can rest assured knowing that they will treat your pet with care, dignity, respect, and professionalism.
Note: You can also search for pet funeral homes and cremation providers by going to the IAPCC website and looking through their member directory.
Look for qualifications
If the pet crematory or funeral home doesn’t have the affiliations mentioned above, it doesn’t automatically mean they aren’t a good facility. Look through their website for information about their qualifications. Look for answers to these questions:
- How many years has the pet funeral home or crematory been in operation?
- How many years of experience does the funeral director have?
- Does the funeral director have experience in human cremation or funeral home service?
You may decide to go with a provider based on these questions if the answers demonstrate that they have the kind of experience that qualifies them to provide pet funeral and cremation services.
Check reviews on popular sites like Google, Yelp, and TrustPilot. See what other pet owners have to say about services received.
If you have a friend who used a pet funeral home or cremation services, ask who their service provider was and what they liked or disliked about the services they received.
Giving Your Pet a Dignified End
Thanks to a growing trend that recognizes pets as family members, you now have options when it comes time to say goodbye. Whether you choose a full funeral or opt for a cremation and scattering service, the most important thing is that you plan a fitting way to honor the special place your pet had in your life.