How Does Pet Cremation Work? What You Need to Know

When it comes to cremating your beloved fur baby, you want to know the ins and outs of how pet cremation services work. 

Is cremation the right choice? How much does it cost? What’s the process like? Is there a certain type of cremation that is best? How long does it take? Are they really my pet’s ashes that I get back?

Losing a pet can be as traumatic as losing a human best friend or loved one, and the grieving process is extremely similar. 

Taking the next step will be hard, but you want to make an informed decision when the time comes. You want the dignity of your pet’s body to be respected and your grief to be acknowledged.

Here is a guide to help you choose the facility to meet your needs.

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My Pet Died: What Do I Do?

If your pet has died at home, wrap them in a towel or blanket, and consider placing them in a cardboard box if possible. 

This will protect your clothing, carpet, and furniture from bodily fluids. If you have a cool area in your home, such as a bathroom floor or garage, that would be a good place to move your pet to.

Call your vet’s office. They will walk you through next steps and take over for you, if that is your wish. Otherwise, you can search the internet for a veterinary clinic (if you didn’t already have one) or a local pet crematorium near you. 

If you can’t specifically find a pet crematorium, search for a general cremation provider. Some cremation companies offer special separate services just for pets.

Make sure that you allow yourself to grieve your loss. You have probably spent years caring for and loving your pet. The affection you have for your pet, and the sorrow you feel at their passing, will not disappear overnight.

Related: How Long Does Grief Last? A Timeline for Grieving a Loss

Should I Cremate My Pet?

Pet cremation is becoming very common in our society. As with human cremation, this is a personal choice. 

It’s a good idea to decide this ahead of time if you can, as the window for making the decision can be quite small. Just as we prepare ahead of time for our human loved ones, we can plan ahead for our beloved family pet before they cross the rainbow bridge.

Opting for your pet’s cremation can also be a practical option. It’s cost-effective, and there are no worries about local regulations and whether it may (or may not) be legal to bury your furry friend.

How Does Pet Cremation Work?

Animal cremation works just like human cremation.

The body of your pet will be placed in the cremation unit known as the retort (the chamber where the cremation will take place) at your choice of pet crematories. 

Once the cremation process begins, the high temperatures of the retort will reach between 1400 and 1800 degrees. This intense heat incinerates the body in anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the type of pet and the pet’s size. 

Larger animals take longer, smaller animals take a shorter amount of time.

After the cremation chamber cools, the pet’s remains will be removed from the retort. These will be in the form of larger bone fragments. The crematory operator will then place these remains into the cremulator, which will pulverize the remains until they reach the consistency of rocky sand.

Next, your pet’s cremated remains will be placed into a plastic bag, which is sealed off and placed into a plastic temporary urn (if you have not yet selected an urn), or into the permanent urn that you have provided.

Lastly, the pet crematory will notify you that the remains are ready for pickup.

The biggest difference between pet cremation and human cremation is that you can opt for a more affordable and more eco-friendly communal cremation for your pet. This means that a number of pets will be cremated in the same retort at the same time.

With communal pet cremation, family members will not receive the cremated remains back. The cremains will typically be scattered by the facility.

Most pet owners will choose to have an individual pet cremation or private pet cremation. These types of cremation allow the family to receive the pet’s cremains back into their care.

Pet Cremation Cost

Like anything else, the cost of pet cremation will vary from place to place, and will depend on your pet’s size. 

As you can imagine, a busy city cremation company will charge more than a rural pet cemetery, and a pet parakeet will cost less than a Great Dane simply because of the animal’s size.

That’s why the average cost of an individual pet cremation can range from as low as $40.00 to over $500.00.

Communal cremations usually are less expensive than individual cremation and will cost you around $30.00 to $85.00 or so.

Don’t be afraid to call around and do some price shopping to find the best option. Some funeral homes have pet retorts, too. 

And just to ease everyone’s mind, the pet cremation process does not take place in the retorts the funeral home uses for human decedents. It is illegal. 

What to Do with Pet Ashes After Cremation

You have a variety of options after the cremation has taken place. Let’s explore them.


Pet cemeteries are popping up all over the country. Don’t believe me? Just do a quick Google search for “pet cemeteries near me.” 

The cost of burial of cremated remains varies from place to place, so do a little bit of research to find which is best for you.

Some of these factors include:

Burial plot. A pet cemetery burial plot usually costs between $300 to $600. The larger your pet, the more it will cost.

Opening and closing the grave. Opening and closing refers to the digging of the grave or the opening of a crypt and other preparations, as well as the filling of the grave and the locking of the crypt. 

Grave marker. The headstone or marker will be etched with your pet’s name and dates, and can include photos, inscriptions, decorations, and more. 

As you can imagine, the more add-ons you choose, the more personalization you include, and the larger your pet, the more expenses you’ll have. 

Each additional service usually incurs an additional charge, but some services offer package deals. We encourage you to call around for pricing.


Scattering your pet’s cremated remains outside in a place they loved is one of the most popular ways people honor their pet’s memory.

Make sure to check the local laws and regulations before you scatter your beloved pet.

Keep at Home in a Pet Urn

Keeping your pet’s cremated remains at home is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, just like you would keep any loved one’s cremated remains. You can put their urn in a special place where you can see it and easily be reminded of their memory.

Choose a beautiful and meaningful cremation urn to hold your pet’s remains and honor their memory. Here are a few of our favorite pet urns.

1. Hand-Blown Glass Cremation Urn

Our art glass urns are perfect for your medium size pet. Each of these beautiful urns is hand blown, so no two will ever be the same.

This urn is too beautiful to bury or place in a crypt.You will want to display your urn in a place of honor for all to see. Set up a memorial in your home, surrounding the urn with photos and other special mementos.

2. Engraved Photo Pet Urn in Granite

This sophisticated granite urn never goes out of style. Personalize it with your pet’s photo, name, dates and even a sweet sentiment. The laser engraving will never fade or deteriorate with time.

A wonderful way to display your love and devotion for your sweet fur baby. 

3. Sleeping Angel Pet Urn

You can personalize this adorable Sleeping Dog Urn with your pet’s name and dates. The little angel-winged puppy is sleeping peacefully and comfortably in its bed.

This precious pup will bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart each time you see it.

4. Doghouse Urn

Each of these handmade, solid wood dog houses can display a picture of your dog and their name. This could be the perfect resting place for your beloved pooch. 

The beautiful grain variations and colors of the wood makes each doghouse urn unique, just like your pet.

5. Ceramic Pet Urn with Custom Portrait

This ceramic pet urn is simply an adorable tribute to that special fur baby. A custom hand painted portrait of your pet adorns the front of the urn, with your pet’s name and dates personalized by hand on the back.

You can even include a heartfelt message to create the most wonderful resting place for your precious friend.

Related: 50 Heartwarming Pet Loss Sympathy Messages

Common Questions About Pet Cremation

You probably still have questions, and that’s okay! It’s normal to be curious about what will happen when your precious pet passes! 

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the loss of a pet, burial, and cremation.

How long does pet cremation take?

The amount of time it takes to cremate depends on the size of your pet. But typically 30 minutes to 2 hours.

What happens to microchips when pets are cremated?

The grain of rice -sized microchip is destroyed in the intense heat. It is made of metal, but it is not able to withstand the incinerating heat of cremation.

How do I know if I got all of my pet’s remains from cremation?

With individual pet cremations, you will get back as much of the cremated remains that can be retrieved.

There may be a few particles that become lost in the retort, but it is a minute amount that is typical of all cremations.

Is it better to bury or cremate your pet?

Burial or cremation is a personal decision. Either choice has pros and cons. Take into consideration the costs and what suits your needs the best.

I have seen many pet owners get buried with the cremated remains of their pet. The cremains can be placed in their arms, at their side, or even at the feet of the owner. 

With either option, holding memorial services for your pet is still a possibility, so keep that in mind.

How long does grief last after losing a pet?

The duration of grief varies between people. Intense grief is very common and can last anywhere from 3 to 12 months. 

Grieving the loss of a pet is perfectly normal, and you can’t rush yourself through it. Your grief is real and must be worked through.

Losing your pet is hard. Your choice of aftercare for him/her is just that — it’s your choice. 

Start thinking about it ahead of time, if you can, to avoid having to make such hard decisions while you are grieving. Put your thoughts to paper before the time comes, and you will be able to rely on that during the difficult time of loss.

Read Next: How to Cope When Grieving Your Pet

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