A pet dog is a beloved member of your family, no matter how many people in your family.
When your dog dies, it can be heart-wrenching. While it may not be something that you will particularly want to think about when you are dealing with the loss of your pet, you will need to decide what to do with your dog’s body.
A popular option is a cremation for pets. It is relatively inexpensive, and it is convenient.
Having as much information available to you about the cremation of pets may help you deal with the process better, and be prepared.
Some pet owners even plan for the cremation of their dog in advance of their pet’s death, so they are well prepared when the time comes, to avoid additional trauma at the time of death. This avoids potentially rushing into a decision about pet cremation when your pet’s life ends. Talking to your vet about possible options is also a good idea as the vet may have useful suggestions, and can help you make choices ahead of time.
How To Choose A Crematorium
Many places that cremate pets liaise with local vets. If you don’t really know where to start in choosing where to cremate your dog, you could speak to your dog’s vet. They may be able to recommend somewhere. They may be able to give you a rough idea of how much dog cremation costs, but to get an accurate picture, you should speak directly to a crematorium as costs do vary a lot.
If you want several options, other than the place your vet suggests, you could look up cremation services on the internet. However, it is also a good idea to do some online research on whether the crematoriums that seem appealing to you have been in the media for bad practice. You want a cremation facility that has a good reputation..
If you have close friends whose pets have been cremated, you could also ask them for a referral.
Following this, give the crematoriums you like the look of a call. They can tell you what you need to know about cremating pets, including cremation services, how much dog cremation costs, and the various options available. They should be open about what they offer and allow you time to ask questions. You should feel comfortable about the whole process, the likely cost to cremate, and how much they will charge for any additional services you may need.
You might like to ask them some questions such as:
- What are their total charges to cremate a dog?
- Are there any additional fees not included in the cost? If so, how much?
- If your dog has been put to sleep by a pet, do they work with your vet to collect the dog. Is that included in the price?
- Will they pick your dog up from your vet even if they do not usually work with your vet? How much will they charge?
- What if my dog dies at home? Can they pick up the dog from there? When does this happen? How much will they charge?
- How soon will my dog be cremated after the crematorium receives the body?
- How long does cremation take?
- When can I pick up my dog’s ashes after cremation?
- Do they offer a selection of urns or containers for me to choose from for my dog’s ashes?
- If I don’t want my dog’s ashes back, or my cremation option doesn’t offer me the return of the ashes, where will the ashes be spread?
It is probably a good idea to write down the answers to your questions as this will help you remember what the crematorium has told you.
There may be other questions you want to ask, so take your time when speaking to the crematorium as it is important that you feel comfortable in your choice.
You may also want to visit a cremation facility and ask these types of questions, rather than doing it over the phone. It is best, as it is more respectful, to call them to arrange a time to visit. Unannounced visits may not be appropriate.
It is a big decision, so take your time to choose somewhere right for you. You will also need to think carefully about your budget and how much you can spend when deciding on a crematorium.
Once you have made a decision, you should let your vet know. This means that when the time comes for your pet cremation, your vet will be well informed about where you have chosen, and who to liaise with about picking up your pet, particularly if your pet has to be euthanized. This can make the whole process smoother and less stressful for you.
How Much Does Dog Cremation Cost ?
To cremate a dog will depend on what type of cremation you choose, where you live, and what add-ons you choose. The cost will also vary according to your dog’s weight - the larger your dog, the more the dog cremation will cost.
Here are the various options to cremate a dog:
Communal cremation - this cremation process is where a large number of pets are cremated together. The average cost for a communal cremation is likely to be between $75 and $125.
An individual cremation is where your dog is cremated in a large cremation unit. The crematorium uses partitions so that pets are separated from each other in the cremation unit. However, if you want to have your pet’s ashes back after the cremation, there may be other pet’s ashes along with your dog’s ashes, because of the process used. An individual cremation may cost between $110 and $145 on average, depending on the size of your dog
If you choose a private cremation, you can expect to pay anything from $175 to $250 depending on your dog’s weight. A private cremation means that your pet is cremated individually. So If you choose to receive the dog’s ashes back, the ashes will be that of your dog only.
For example, for a dog that weighs between 91-120 lbs. cremation costs will be roughly $250 for a private cremation, $145 for individual cremation and $125 for a communal cremation.
Bear in mind that these cremation costs do not include any add-on cremation services, which will cost extra.
For example, crematoriums will charge pet owners a witness fee of around $75 if you would like to be there when the cremation takes place. Ask the crematorium the price if you want to do this.
If you need your pet transferred to the crematorium from your home, or wherever the dog has died, crematoriums will charge a transfer fee of about $50 or $60. The crematorium will be able to tell you exactly how much does dog transfer cost in this situation.
Whatever type of cremation you think you might want to choose, take your time to make the decision about it that is right for you.
Different crematoriums will have different payment policies. However, to minimize your trauma when it comes time to dealing with your dog’s death, it is wise to consider paying upfront. If you choose not to or are not able to, do make sure you know what the crematorium’s payment requirements are.
The Process Of Pet Cremation
The first part of the cremation process is that the staff will place your pet in a cremation chamber. The machine will reach very high temperatures, which can be between 1400 and 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. This will essentially vaporize your pet’s body, leaving behind coarse dust and pieces of bone. It will take up to two hours to complete, depending on the size of your dog.
Staff will then remove any inorganic material from the remains. This includes microchip implants, collars, surgical pins and so on. Some crematoriums do this by hand, while others may use magnets.
Then the small pieces of bone are ground smaller so that the ashes have a uniform texture, like coarse sand.
If you choose a private or individual cremation, the ashes will be returned to you if you want. You don’t have to have them if this will upset you. However, returning the ashes is not the case with communal cremations because your pet is not cremated individually, so the ash would have other pets remains contained in it. In this case, the ashes are usually sprinkled on a garden. You can ask the facility where they will be sprinkled and whether you could visit if you wish to do so.
If you want to have your dog’s belongings cremated too, this really depends on the crematorium. Some facilities will let you cremate your pet’s blanket, for example, providing it is made out of natural fibers. Usually, crematoriums do not permit toys or materials made from plastic to be cremated. Environmental regulations in your local area may determine whether or not you can cremate things that belonged to your pet.
Can I Be Sure I Am Getting My Dog’s Ashes Back?
This is a very common question that people ask vets when they are considering cremation because sometimes people feel uncomfortable asking a crematorium this question. This is understandable.
It may be difficult to learn that it is not possible to be 100% sure that the ashes you receive are those of your pet. Additionally, if you choose individual cremation, it is still possible that other pets’ ashes will be mixed in with your dog’s ashes.
However, if the crematorium you select is reputable and well regarded, there is a better chance that the whole process will be thorough and proper. What this means is that the ashes you receive back are more likely to be those of your dog. Trained staff will use certain techniques to make sure ashes are kept separately, for example, using ID tags.
What Should I Do With My Dog’s Ashes?
You will need to choose what to put your dog’s ashes in, and what you wish to do with them. Both are individual decisions. There are several options, any of which will help commemorate your pet.
You could put the ashes in an urn. There are various sizes and shapes available, both of which will determine the cost. You can place the urn anywhere in your house, and it can be a reminder of your beloved pet. You might like to create a shrine near the urn with photos and other memorabilia of your dog. The range of options for urns is huge and can vary from $25 to $1000.
You may like to bury the ashes of your pet - many pet owners do this in their backyard. This will allow you to “visit” your dog whenever you wish. This can help you to get over your grief.
Another option is a cremation box. You put your pet’s ashes in this box. Again, this box can be displayed anywhere you choose in your home and be a treasured reminder of your pet.
You might choose instead to scatter the ashes of your pet. Perhaps you could do this in your dog’s favorite park, or near a beach, your pet loved to play on. Do be sure to familiarise yourself with any relevant local laws or regulations as there may be restrictions on where ashes are allowed to be scattered. You could also scatter the ashes in your back garden and organize a headstone to commemorate your dog.
Jewelry and keychains are other options to commemorate your pet after dog cremation. Sometimes small amounts of the dog’s ashes can be mixed into the jewelry.
A memorial dog ash keychain is one way that you can keep your pet with you after it passes away. This is often a cylinder shape, and you put some of your pet’s ashes, or their hair, or both, in it. These keychains can come in various shapes other than cylindrical, and you can have the keychain engraved and have graphics on it too.
Your dog’s ashes can also be used to create cremation art. This is a unique and interesting way to commemorate your pet.
What Happens If My Dog Dies At Home?
Pet owners are often concerned about this, although it happens relatively rarely.
If your dog dies during your vet’s opening hours, you can take the body to the vet. If you have discussed your cremation choice with your vet, they can be in touch with the crematorium about having the dog picked up. If you haven’t made any choice at that point, the vet can advise you.
If your pet dies when your vet is not open, you can take your pet to an emergency vet clinic in your area. They can liaise with the crematorium you have chosen to arrange for your dog to be collected, or give you some suggestions about where to choose.
Most crematoriums will charge more to pick up a pet during non-standard hours. This will add to the dog cremation cost.
Alternatives To Cremation
If you are not comfortable with cremation, you can choose to bury your dog.
Do make sure you research the relevant laws and regulations in your State, because there may be rules about how deep you must make the burial, and what type of container you must bury your pet in.
While people living in cities are rarely allowed to bury their pet in their backyard, this is often permitted in rural areas. Just double-check the laws in your State if you want to bury your pet on your property. But doing this can be traumatic as you will need to dig and then fill the grave, and put your beloved pet in it. You may find this very distressing. It may help to put a memorial stone or similar artifact on or near where you have buried your pet to help you remember the pet when you decide to visit.
If you are a city dweller and want to bury your pet, you will need to seek out a pet cemetery that is convenient for you. This might cost you between $400 and $600 just for the burial plot. A casket will be additional - this can be as little as $50 for a basic one, with considerably more charged for more ornate ones. Be guided by your budget.
It is possible to have your beloved pet preserved this way. Some people hate the idea, but others love the idea of having their pet close to them even though they have passed away.
What taxidermy does is to make your pet into a semi-permanent “statue,” for you to put at home.
Not everyone is comfortable with having a physical reminder of their pet in their home, so this is something to think about if you are considering this option.
It can be expensive - probably at least $500, and possibly a lot more if your dog is large.
Aquamation is an environmentally friendly way of cremating your pet. It produces less than 10% of the carbon emissions produced in a typical fire cremation. It started in Australia and is becoming more popular worldwide. It uses a process known as alkaline hydrolysis.
Water cremation operates at much lower temperatures than fire cremation. It uses a fraction of the electricity, with the beloved pet being placed in a potassium hydroxide and water solution that is heated to 93°C, for a period of 4 hours.
The ashes of your pet will be clean and light green in color.
This is an expensive option with charges in the thousands of dollars.
Ways to Remember Your Dog
A photo or a collage of pictures of your pet is a good idea. This can help ease the pain of your loss every time you look at the photo.
Another option is to have a portrait done of your dog. This can be hung up at home, again allowing you to treasure the memory of your beloved pet. Get in touch with pet portrait companies to discuss the various options.
Photo books are a good way to remember your pet. This way, you can keep a large number of photos of your pet together in a lovely keepsake, which can help you remember your pet and help you to grieve and get over losing your loss.
You may also want to consider memorial jewelry, such as a necklace. You could have a charm made in the shape of your dog or a small pendant with dog paws on. Or you could opt for a locket with a small photo of your pet in it.