Pet remains – What to do with your pet’s remains – Pet tip 118
Most often, the first time an owner considers the final care of a pet’s remains is after the pet has passed away. This is a decision that can be difficult to make at any time, but especially while you are already dealing with the loss of the beloved pet. Unfortunately, in their grief, some owners make decisions that they later come to regret. Although it is unpleasant to think about your pet’s death, considering the options while a pet is alive can help prepare you for the sad event. Making plans now will also ensure that you have one less decision to make, after the fact.
Veterinary hospitals offer a variety of options if an animal dies or is euthanized at the clinic, and most will also assist with the handling of remains if a pet has died at home. Your veterinarian is an excellent resource for finding locally available services such as pet crematoriums, but don’t be afraid to ask if you have a particular memorial in mind for your companion.
This has always been a popular option with small animals, and many people appreciate the chance to say goodbye with a personal burial. You might find solace in the fact that your pet is under a favourite tree, or that he or she has returned to nature.
Keep in mind that the remains should always be buried deep enough that they cannot be disturbed or become a health hazard. Unfortunately, many cities now prohibit home burials for health reasons, and you should consult local legislation if you are considering this option (your veterinarian would know). As an alternative, you might consider burial of cremated remains.
Most veterinary hospitals now offer to cremate remains themselves or through a local crematorium. Upon return of the ashes, you may choose to store them in an urn or memory box, as a permanent memorial. They can also be buried or scattered at home or at a pet’s favourite place, such as the park.
There is a service available to compress cremains into a gem (a man-made diamond), as a keepsake. This service can be quite expensive and is offered mainly to humans, but is also available to pet owners.
If home burial is not an option, or if you would like to ensure that your pet’s remains will be cared for and undisturbed in perpetuity, you should consider contacting a local pet cemetery. Quite often, owners are surprised at how widely available this service really is. Options and prices vary, depending on the cemetery. Some may offer a full funeral and private interment, while others offer a group interment with memorial plaques.
Pet taxidermy or freeze-drying
For some owners, taxidermy or freeze-drying may be a comforting alternative to burial or cremation. These methods allow the remains of a pet to be preserved in a life-like state. Of the two, freeze-drying is more common. Shipment of the remains can sometimes be difficult. Your veterinarian may have more information on local services.
In the care of a veterinary hospital
Choosing a location or keepsake to devote to the remembrance of your pet may be unnecessary for some. You might find that all you need is a photograph, an old leather collar, or your own memories. In that case, the best option might be to surrender a pet’s remains to the veterinary hospital. Most commonly these remains are cremated or buried. Local humane societies may also provide this service.
Some institutions, such as veterinary teaching hospitals, will accept donated pet remains. If you live near such an institution, you may consider contacting them to find out if this option is available. Your pet’s remains may then be used for educational purposes, to study anatomy and the pathology of disease, or to train future veterinarians.
The decision regarding the handling of a pet’s remains is a personal one, and the choices are as numerous as the ways in which people grieve. Whichever option you choose, it should allow you a chance to say goodbye and to remember the joy that your pet brought into your life.