Decease of a Pet – What comes next?

Disposing of the body- Laying to rest

While the loss of a pet can be a  very traumatic and a deeply stressful time for it’s  owner, in today’s world we have a far greater number of options as to how to deal with the pet loss grieving process.    

Burial in Pet Cemetery

When it finally comes to that moment we all dread of laying your pets body down on its final resting place, the pet cemetery is a good option.

It offers a safe and secure environment where you can come visit, erect a pet memorial plaque on that particular burial spot and perhaps even get a chance to interact with other people whom you can share stories and memories of your beloved pet with.

There are in quite a few circumstances whereby the pet cemetery is directly related to and part of an all-inclusive service including pet funeral homes and possibly crematories.

The funeral home offers a formal setting where you can grieve openly, reflect on the life and times of that special relationship and bond  you had  with your pet.

In a similar manner to how it handles human burial arrangements, the pet cemetery can pick up your pets remains from the veterinarian or home and carry out normal service from there.

Private Home Burials

Many people may prefer the option of laying their pets remains somewhere in their own land or their own back garden.

As a coping mechanism some people feel keeping the pet close by gives a certain peace and reassurance.

If you own land and or possess your own house in the countryside or a suburban area then you will likely choose this method.

Depending on where you live there may be certain laws and regulations imposed by the local authority on the act of burying your pet in your backyard or garden.

A few regulations or conditions you should adhere to are, always bury your pet at least 3 to 4 feet deep.

A special container may also have to be used to accommodate your pet depending on it is size.

This is to safeguard against scavengers or other pets and animals digging up the burial site.

Also try to avoid  selecting  a burial site where volumes of water would normally lodge, this may dislodge or uncover the topsoil and leave the bodily remains exposed.

People may opt for home burials because it  represents a more personal touch, it allows you choose that burial spot which may be of some significance to you and especially your pet.

An example of this would be, a spot where your pet used to play or liked to lie down and sleep.

It’s up to you if you want to or what you want to mark the burial spot with.Image result for pet memorial rock

A pet memorial garden stone or a pet memorial rock would be a nice commemorative gesture to your companion.


For those who prefer not to deal with the personal handling of the dead remains, don’t have suitable ground because of city dwelling, or want to avoid the trouble of dealing with local authority laws on burials, a crematoria service is a viable option.

In some or all cases a pet cremation can be  done on a  private or combined basis.

That means the crematory service will cremate your pet individually or as part of a group or a multitude  of pets at the same time.

Some crematories offer special tracking devices to ensure that the correct ashes from your pet are returned to you if you choose group cremation.

In most cases and generally for your own peace of mind and solace you can attend the cremation yourself.

The  cremains  can be placed inside a memorial pet urn and kept in secure private area of your home or outwardly displayed as a constant reminder of a friend that was a big part of your life.

A keepsake   in the  form  of  jewellery  whereby  the  pets  ashes are  encased or fused inside thick  glass  can  also  be  obtained.

Other options  worth  considering are  having   footprints  done, that could  be ink prints, clay prints [paw  impressions unique to  your  pet] a  lock  of  fur, feathers, hair, whiskers

You could also spread your pets ashes somewhere of sentiment, like the pets own home yard, on a strand or beach where it liked to walk and swim.

If you prefer not to hold possession of your pets ashes, the crematory will bury or scatter the ashes in a mass grave or a distinguished pet memorial area.

For Research

In the event that you would like an alternative option to the 3 choices above, you could donate your pet for the purpose of science study.

Educational Memorial Programs or Willed Body Programs which these endeavors are called and are offered at some veterinary universies and hospitals.

In practice this would usually mean that you’d need to make donating arrangements with the select universary prior to the decease of your pet.

You must have the paperwork current as regards rabies vaccinations and free of infectious diseases for acceptance into this  program.

Giving your pet up to be utilized of veterinary education and training may be a great source of comfort and pride to its owner.

All the animals remains are cremated on the completion of training and depending on the program or university the return of your pets ashes may not be possible.

If you are interested in finding out about a further option available to you click here

Decision time in the Household

For owners the death of a pet is a gut wrenching experience that few of us want to face but is unfortunately reality not only once in a lifetime but usually more than that.

The important thing to take into account on the death of your pet is the feelings, viewpoints, thoughts of all the family members.     

Whereas one member may wish for a formal burial, another may be creeped out at the thought of a dead body in the back garden.

The best course of action would be to hold a discussion on the topic of the final disposal of the pet while it is still alive.

We all accept and granted it is not the most comfortable and pleasant of topics to converse on but likely one that could prevent a very undesirable situation when “that moment” finally arrives.

A final decision should be reached that’s going to satisfy all and importantly apt in honoring your cherished pet in its final send off.

If  you  have  any  opinions  and  thoughts  on  this  I’d  love  to  hear  them.



















  1. I’ve had to bury 2 of my family pets in my lifetime and its such a heartbreaking and tough experience to go through they’re such loveable creatures. I actually never knew you could cremate them or donate them to science. When you cremate people now you can actually get jewellery made out of their ashes which would be a nice touch to remember them by if you could do it with your pets!

    • I am sorry to hear about your loss, yes its a very difficult phase in one’s life when your great friend passes on.
      Yes definitely its possible to have jewellery made from the ashes of your pet.
      If you need any more info please don’t hesitate to ask.


  2. Thank you for this. I have a cat that is 19 years old so I think about this stuff a lot. He is still lively but he has congestive heart failure. Other than that, he is a happy boy.

    However, I often think about what I will do after he passes away. I have seriously thought about cremation and holding onto the ashes. I don’t care how expensive it is, it’s worth it to me.

    • Hi Gabriella,
      yes the idea of holding onto the ashes may act as a reassuring factor in that owners still feel intimately connected to their pet.
      As you say either way you go about it the main thing is that you pay your pet due respect by creating some form of lifelong memory.


    • Hi Gabriella,
      yes the idea of holding onto the ashes may act as a reassuring factor in that owners still feel intimately connected to their pet.
      As you say either way you go about it the main thing is that you pay your pet due respect by creating some form of lifelong memory.


  3. In the past couple of years, we have lost 2 beloved dogs–Malcolm, a 14 year old lab and Fester, a 17 year old Chinese Crested. Like most pet owners, the losses were devastating, and it’s hard to let go.

    We decided to have them both cremated and bought urns that had their name and a place to put our favorite pictures of them. I highly recommend doing this, the feeling that they are still with us gives us great comfort.

    • Hi Janelle,

      Yes I believe you made a very good decision, the choice of using an urn probably lends a more intimate touch especially that its kept inside the household.


  4. Oliver,

    Thanks for writing this. It’s always a tough time when a pet is lost. Often times we aren’t sure what to do right after this happens and sometimes turning to the internet to guide us is the only logical next step.

    Thanks for leading folks in the right direction. I have cremated in the past myself, it’s always tough to make a decision though regardless.

    • Hi Dalton,
      You are welcome,
      I think we live in an era now where pet owners are becoming more sensitive and do look on pet death in a similar vein to human death.


  5. Hi
    when a pet dies it is not easy to think what comes next. Great article about the options we have. I prefer the cremation part.We look after stray cats and we normally go to the cremation centre and pay for the cremation. It is a good way to say goodbye and let them rest in peace. We put the urn in a place with a picture where people can remember them. It cost a bit of money but the memory is there. Any pet owner who has to deal with the loss of a pet has a hard decision to make.
    Thank you for sharing this and giving us great information on what options are available.

    • Hi Silvia,
      You are welcome,
      the only consolation is that the whole experience is not something that occurs very often in a persons life even if on some occasions it can have lifelong repercussions.


  6. Great article Oliver, very sensitively written as it is hard to have to think about these things when it comes to our much cherished pets.
    We have been so lucky to have a property where we can bury our pets and keep them with us. With our GS Locky we bought a personalised hand-carved stone with his name on it to mark his grave, if cremation had been an option here we probably would have gone down that route.

    • Hello Heidi,
      yes indeed you are fortunate to have a piece of ground to lay your pets to rest.
      the general perception I’m getting is that cremation is becoming common and possibly the preferred option nowadays especially for bigger sized pets.


  7. Hi Oliver,
    Great information. It is inevitable for us to deal with our pet’s death, and we don’t want to think about it till it comes, and then we are too sad to think what to do next. So your information is very helpful for those who are facing that sad moment.

    I lost one of my beloved dogs, Nikki in September. I am still grieving and missing her every day because she was such a special kind. We cremated her, and her urn is on the nightstand (my side) with her pictures and the footprint they created out of clay. This makes me feel like she is with me all the time, and as much as hard to cope this loss, to me it is the best choice we made. I have one more that is aging (only 1 year and a half apart from Nikki), and she got really depressed for a while, but now she seems to be doing ok. I can’t even imagine the same thing we have to go through again with her, but I try my best to cherish the moment with her.

    • Hi Kyoko,
      You summed up the whole experience so well there and definitely approached it in the proper manner.
      clay paw prints, urn by night stand you absolutely could never have any regrets as you paid Nikki the ultimate honour and respect.
      yes its been proved that animals [maybe not all] do get depressed after the death of a partner.


  8. Great article Oliver. This is such a difficult topic for people to deal with when they are vulnerable. I had no idea there were so many options available these days. It would be great to hear how these choices link to proactive measures and/or insurance. Can you help with that too going forward?

    • Hi Nick,
      good observation, I will do some research of that aspect of it
      on first thought, it probably all depends on what jurisdiction one resides in

  9. I agree. I think this will be a great support and resource site for pets! Thank you for setting it up!

  10. This is a real important post. It’s hard losing a loved one and a pet is a loved one. Having an idea in place for when the time comes is important. We buried my wife’s life long friend which so happened to be a 21 year old cat in the backyard. Our other cats were cremated which is actually becoming more common and offered at our vet. I think it can be a beautiful thing if you want them in an urn or the ashes buried or placed in an area of significance.

    • Hi Bruce,
      yes, I believe you are correct, cremation now appears to be the preferred option. Your wife’s cat had a good innings – 21 years old is a fine age but even harder then for the owner to say the final farewell.


  11. Hi Oliver, this is a wonderful resource and sadly I did had the experience of burying my dead pets. Back then (this was more than 10 years ago), I didn’t recall having that many options and thus it was with a mini shovel and heavy heart, I buried my dead pet (a tortoise, by the way). Reading your article reminded me of that moment and probably it was the pain of loss that kind of stops me from adopting other pets since then. I love dogs but I also know their lifespan and if I have one, I will have to bury or cremate it one day. 🙁

  12. This was a tough one for me to read. I am still grieving the loss of our dachshund of 13+ years. I miss her little pitter-patter following me everywhere.

    We opted for burying her in the yard – and we will build a memorial garden around her site. Thanks for the post. You really should have a link to a pet memorial stone of some sort or garden remembrance… people like me need that sort of thing!

    • Heather,
      sorry to hear about your pet dachshund
      yes I hope to start adding relevant links very soon


  13. H Jude,
    sorry to hear about your pet
    yes the grief and anguish sometimes do act as a barrier for people not being eager to own another pet after a loss.
    Unfortunately its a fact of life that our pets don’t last long and all good things come to an end.


  14. Aww… Thank you for this post. This is a topic that people seldom talk about.

    I am going to have a cat and a dog when I’m ready. And I just couldn’t imagine how will it be like when they left me for another world.

    Anyway, this is a really helpful post. I’m sure a lot of people need this. Thanks!

  15. Hi Jerry,

    Thank you,

    Just enjoy every moment you have with your cat and dog when they do come into your life.


  16. Hi Oliver, I love your passion for this and what a great subject to touch upon. This is one of the hardest things to deal with in a lifetime, obviously next to the loss of a loved one, but nonetheless very heartbreaking. Thank you for giving the options of what do in the event of a loss. I prefer a home burial with a plaque made to memorialize them although I did have one cremated. I think it depends on finances and other factors, but it is grief no matter how you look at it.
    I look forward to more articles Oliver, great job!

  17. Hi Kristen,
    Thank you for your comment,
    yes you are correct, which ever method of disposal or laying to rest people choose the outcome will always be sheer despair and overwhelming sadness.


  18. I read your post today on the decease of a pet mainly because my dog is almost eight years old, I read recently his breed’s lifespan averages approximately ten years old. I know am debating how to handle his death, I might want to have him cremated and keep his ashes in my home as a memory of him, but do you think this is healthy for me to do?

  19. Hi Jeff,
    To answer your question, there is nothing to suggest that it is not healthy. There are a big variety of urns to choose from nowadays, Something you may have to consider when the time comes, do you want a subtle reminder or something as a focal point, Different urns accommodate different wishes or needs, it depends on how prominent you would like it to be displayed.
    Hope this helps a little in answering your question.
    By the way what kind of dog do you own?


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