Honoring Our Beloved Pets: Cremation

One way to memorialize our pets and provide a final resting place is pet cremation. Here's an overview of the different options available for pet cremation.

Family pets are cherished and loved members of the family. They have been there with us for holidays, on vacations, and been with us through the ups and downs of life, while giving us endless joy and happiness in their short lives. Unfortunately their lifespan is much shorter than ours, so inevitably most pet owners will have to face the death of their beloved companion. A pet loss, whether predictable or sudden, is a heartbreaking event.

Bereavement is difficult and can last for a long time, particularly for older pets who have been a part of our lives for many years. Finding a way to honor and remember these special creatures is very important. One way to memorialize our pets and provide a final resting place is pet cremation. This process allows pet owners to dispose of their pet with dignity and respect. Many pet owners choose cremation since it provides owners a way to keep a deceased pet near them in an urn or buried nearby or to scatter some of the pet's ashes in a special place of their choice.

What is pet cremation?

Cremation is the process by which your pet's body is exposed to extreme heat, usually 1800 - 2000 degrees for two hours or more. Through this process the body is reduced to its basic elements, which are referred to as the "cremated body" or "cremated remains". Cremation occurs at a crematorium in a special kind of furnace called a cremation chamber or retort. It may surprise many to learn that ashes are not the final result since cremated remains have neither the appearance nor the chemical properties of ashes. They are, in fact, bone fragments. These fragments are further reduced in size through a mechanical process. After preparation, these elements are placed in a temporary container that is suitable for transport. Depending upon the size of the body, there are normally three to nine pounds of fragments resulting.

Different Types of Cremation

Research the crematory company you will use to take care of your pet cremation. Be sure to ask the provider to fully explain the different types of service you will receive. You deserve to know how your pet's cremation will be performed before the decision is made. Pet cremation is performed one of three ways:

PRIVATE: A private cremation is when your pet is cremated by himself. At no time are there any other pets inside the cremation equipment while your pet's cremation is taking place. This method is chosen when the pet's remains will be returned to the owner. Pure and simple, it is what most pet owners expect.

SEMI-PRIVATE: A semi-private cremation is when your pet is cremated with 4 - 6 other pets. Each pet is placed into its own cremation tray. Owners are still able to receive the cremated remains of their pet; however, they need to realize that within the cremation chamber airborne particles from each pet will mix within all the remains.

COMMUNAL CREMATION: A group cremation is performed when the owner does not want the cremated remains returned. Pets from different families are collected and cremated at the same time, and their ashes disposed of on private cemetery grounds or taken to a local landfill. The cremated remains cannot be returned and no cremation certificate is offered. This type of cremation is also referred to as "simple cremation".

If you want your pet's remains returned to you, please make sure you have made that clear prior to the cremation, because it will influence what type of cremation is performed.

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What can I do with my pet's remains?

Here is some helpful information to answer a few questions you may have:

  1. Do I need an urn? Your pet's ashes are placed in a sealed plastic bag which is then placed in a temporary container - usually tin, plastic or a box which is then given to the pet owner for placement in an urn or special container of their choice.

  2. How do I know what size urn I will need? This is a personal decision. Today there are hundreds of styles of urns and many can be personalized for you, from handmade wood urns to keepsake-styled jewelry. Most families choose an urn to memorialize their pet. Each pound of your pet equals 1 cubic inch of urn space. If your pet weighs 100 lbs. You would need an urn 100 cubic inches.

  3. What does the urn look like? Every pet is special with a unique behavior and character which is why there are many different shapes, colors and styles you can choose to memorialize your beloved pet. Pet urns usually display a name plate and treasured photo of your pet. Larger pet cremation urns can also hold remembrances such as a collar, tag or favorite small toy.

There are lots of pet cremation service provides. Your veterinarian can provide you with some local options and many of them can also be found easily on the internet. Research the various places and the services they provide, to find just the right cremation option to lovingly honor your pet.

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