Critter Culture
End Of Life Planning For Your Pet

End Of Life Planning For Your Pet

Critter Culture Staff



Our fur family members are more than just pets. They're treasured residents of the home who fill our lives with joy and love. When your dog or cat, or other beloved critter, passes away, you're likely to be heartbroken. Even though it's hard to think about now, planning for your pet's end-of-life process will ensure you can focus on those last days of love when they come instead of the practical specifics.


Considering pet cremation

Animal urns Agency Animal Picture / Getty Images

Cremation is one of the most common ways to handle a pet's remains. If you decide on this method, you will usually be asked if you want your pet cremated alone or in a group. If you want your pet's ashes back, specify you want individual cremation. Otherwise, your pet will be cremated with other furbabies who've passed on, so their ashes will be mixed with those of other animals.


Burial on your property

man using a shovel SrdjanPav / Getty Images

When a pet dies, you may want to bury them on your property. Before you grab a shovel, read up on your local regulations. Some cities do not allow pets to be buried in a backyard, while others have specific rules regulating the burial process, such as how deep a grave should be and its distance from neighboring properties. In addition, you should always check with your utility companies before digging so you don't accidentally hit a critical line.


Burial in a pet cemetery

Two Dog Grave Stones Crazace2006 / Getty Images

If you don't want to or are not allowed to bury your pet's remains on your property, pet cemeteries are another option. According to one study, there are approximately 200 pet cemeteries in the United States. In most cases, pets are not allowed to be buried in human cemeteries, although exceptions are starting to be made. Some human cemeteries, for example, now allow urns containing pet ashes to be buried with their owners.


Scatter your pet's ashes

 Ash Spreading to beach NORRIE3699 / Getty Images

Did your pet love to play on the beach or hit the trails in the mountains? If they had a favorite place, consider scattering their ashes in that area. You can do this privately or invite others to join you on the journey to take your pet to their final resting place. Scattering ashes is a lovely way to honor your pet's memory.


Keeping the ashes with your family

Pet cremation urn Imagesbybarbara / Getty Images

If your pet was always by your side in life, you may find it difficult to scatter away their ashes in death.  As we often do with human family members who have passed on, you may want to place your pet's ashes in a vessel so that you can keep them with you. Some people will also divide the remains up and share them with family members, such as adult children who do not live at home anymore but grew up with the pet.


Turn the ashes into a memorial

fireworks on a lake in Muskoka flyzone / Getty Images

A special pet deserves to be remembered in a unique way, and many businesses have found creative options for families who have recently lost a furbaby. For example, you can choose to have their remains turned into a diamond or mixed in with clay to create beautiful ceramic pottery. Or you can send your pet off with a bang by hiring a cremation fireworks company to include your pet's ashes in one of its displays.


Donate your pet's body

Students discuss with professor. M_a_y_a / Getty Images

If you're passionate about science and advancing research, deceased pets can be donated to a university's veterinary student training program. With this decision, you and your pet could be helping future veterinary and undergraduate students learn how to save the lives of other animals. Be sure to check around with programs in the area, as they might not always accept these donations.


Consider taxidermy for your pet

Closeup of a stuffed taxidermy peacock acceptfoto / Getty Images

Although taxidermy is usually performed on trophy animals, such as deer or bears, it can also be used on pets. If the thought of not seeing their expressive face every time you come in the door leaves you bereft, why not hire someone to turn your furry child into an always-there entryway decor piece?


Cryopreservation of the body

Liquid nitrogen cryogenic tank at life sciences laboratory anamejia18 / Getty Images

Cryonics is the process of preserving a recently deceased animal's body at sub-freezing temperatures in the hopes that science may one day have the technology available to bring your pet back to life. This is an expensive process that, in 2023, cost $5,800 for a dog or cat under 15 pounds and requires $120 yearly dues in addition to a $75 initiation fee. Of course, there is no guarantee that the technology to bring a pet back to life will ever exist, but if you're a sci-fi fan, it might be worth the investment!


Throw an extravagant funeral

Sad Child With Mother Burying Pet Guinea Pig In Garden At Home Daisy-Daisy / Getty Images

A funeral is a touching way to remember your pet and celebrate their life. This can be a simple gathering of friends and family by your pet's grave. Or it can be an extravagant affair, such as the funeral that a couple in the U.S. threw for their Labrador. In total, they spent $4,000 on a casket, flowers, food, and a videographer. Even more over the top was a funeral in London, which cost the pet owner $5,000 and included a horse-drawn hearse, floral arrangements, and a dove release.


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