Choosing whether to bury or cremate a dog is likely one of the first questions that come to mind after a pet has passed away. Pets are part of the lives and families of their owners, being present in the happiest moments and showing their love and support during tough times. Given the nature of this special bond, losing a pet is a harrowing experience, no matter their age or for how long they shared their lives with you. Saying goodbye to those we love is never easy.
This article will help guide you on whether to bury or cremate a dog along with the many considerations you need to take into account when deciding on the final resting place for your furry friend. Dealing with the loss of a pet is extremely difficult to begin with, and the situation is made even worse by having to make practical decisions such as what to do with your best friend's remains. So it's essential to prepare ahead, get educated on your options, and to ultimately decide with awareness and intention.
Choosing how to say goodbye to your lifetime companion in the right way depends on what's best for you, your family, and your pet. It’s important to consider what kind of resources you have access to, local laws, and what kind of farewell you're most comfortable with, deciding between burial and cremation.
Although only about 50% of people are cremated, that rate goes up to over 90% when it comes to pets, meaning less than 10% of them are buried - but don't worry, there's no right or wrong choice, it just comes down to personal preference. Given these two options, how do you know which one is the most appropriate? Here are some pros, cons, and other details you should consider:
For many people, a burial ceremony for their dog is the best way to say goodbye and it symbolizes a parting demonstration of love and respect - when they’re gone, you may want to celebrate all the joy they brought into your life by giving them a proper memorial. To keep their dogs close after they've crossed the rainbow bridge, many choose to bury them at home, within a world that's always been theirs. It's private, personal, and it can provide a powerful coping tool.
Pet burial laws
While in most places it is legal to bury pets in the backyard, some rules and regulations differ by state and sometimes even by city (as in pit depth and proper storage materials, for example) so it's important to check with your local authorities and learn about any specific procedures you may need to follow.
To make sure the burial process happens smoothly in such an emotional moment, you need to ensure that the animal passed of natural causes and that the space is adequate. Rented houses, for example, should be avoided - if you ever move you won't be able to visit your best friend's grave in the future.
The restriction is also valid for places that may become flower beds or where you cannot dig deep enough. This is why at least two feet of soil covering are generally recommended to prevent scavengers from digging up and finding your pet’s remains.
Dog burial options
The options can range from having a pet placed in a pet cemetery's grave, with some of their favorite toys or blankets in a special place on your family property, or even buried within the same casket as their ownerg, which is a service some places can provide. This would also be an appropriate time to choose a lasting keepsake, like a paw print or a pet memorial portrait.
This is an option when home burial is not possible. With the advantage of having all the legal permits associated with the process, they may also offer alternatives like columbaria niches and even the option to be laid to rest in the same place as your pet when you pass. It's a comforting, sacred place to visit your pet’s remains.
Burying can also be done with the ashes of your dog. If you choose this option they're going to be spread under a tree. A protected memorial forest would be a beautiful and environmentally-friendly place to visit and honor the memory of your pet.
If for religious or other reasons burying isn’t an option for you, there are still other ways you can have your pet properly memorialized, which are private or communal cremations. These are professional services and cover a variety of price ranges that suit most pet owners. Costs may vary with the size of the pet, but this process will avoid the risks of environmental contamination or diseases that might occur with backyard burial.
Cremation is a great way to honor your pet's life while remaining mindful of the environment. Burying the ashes is probably the best choice for those who want to keep their dog buried at home without compromising their yard.
Pet cremation services
You could have a pet cremation service take care of your pet after they've passed away. An individual cremation guarantees your pet's ashes are not mixed with other animals and the remains can be returned to you or let go according to your wishes. If witnessed cremation is available at your crematorium, you can pay a small extra fee to be in a viewing room.
However, if for some reason you're not sure of what to do with the remains, a communal cremation may be the best option since other pets will be cremated in the same chamber and the facility handles the remains for you. This is also the most affordable alternative.
There are also options for what to do with your pet's ashes:
Pet urns ⚱️
Most cremating companies guarantee the return of the pets' ashes to the owners, offering them to be placed inside different kinds of personalized decorative urns. Many different sizes are available, and there are even biodegradable options. It's worth consulting with your provider for the best option here.
Scattering your dog's ashes allows you to return him to Earth, in a place that carries meaning to you and them. If your pet enjoyed hiking, swimming, or outdoor adventures, scattering their ashes in a place they loved is a great way to honor them.
Bury or cremate: it's up to you
The choice on your dog's cremation or burial will come down to personal circumstances and preferences. If you don't feel emotionally ready to deal with all the steps needed and can afford it, go for cremation service companies. On the other hand, if you're looking for a way to pay a tribute to your best friend by creating a permanent memorial spot, you should consider arranging the burial after checking with your local council.
Before you make any decisions, make sure that you have considered the feelings of your family members. Whatever you choose will demonstrate the love and respect you have had for your furry friend in life. There's no right answer - it's a very personal decision and if you are confident in your aftercare choice, you'll be able to focus all of your attention on paying a beautiful tribute to your dog no matter what that looks like.