A quick guide to pet cremation

Learn about pet cremation, what options are available, how it works, scattering the ashes, and how pet insurance could help pay for it.

Once upon a time, when a pet died most people said their final goodbyes at the vets and let them dispose of the body, collecting the ashes afterwards if they wished. Others buried their animal friend in the back garden, and a few opted for a space in one of the small number of dedicated pet cemeteries dotted around the country. In recent years, however, pet cremation has been growing in popularity. 

What is pet cremation?

Pet cremation is very similar to human cremation. The service provider will collect the body of your pet from your home or the vet. Some providers even offer a pet hearse for the occasion. Depending on the venue, you can view your pet before the cremation, and all will provide you with the ashes afterwards in a container of your choice. Some also offer the option of a memorial service for friends and family before the cremation. While dog cremation and cat cremation are the most frequent services offered, some crematoria offer the service for pets large and small, from mice, budgies, and even horses at some locations. 

How does pet cremation work?

Most pet owners will prefer to have their beloved pet cremated on its own at a private pet cremation, so that they can collect the ashes afterwards secure in the knowledge that they belong to their pet. Cheaper options available at some crematoria include communal pet cremation, where a number of animals are cremated at once, and partitioned pet cremation, where a number of pets are cremated at the same time, but their ashes are kept separate. Ashes won’t be available from a communal pet cremation. 

The process itself sees your pet’s body being placed in a furnace, known as a cremator, where it’s burned at very high temperatures until only bone fragments remain. These are then ground up into a fine grey ash, which makes up the ashes you can collect after the process. 

Can you attend your pet’s cremation?

Many locations will be happy to allow you to attend the crematorium on the day of your pet’s cremation, as long as you book beforehand. This doesn’t mean you’ll be able to observe the cremation itself, as this isn’t allowed for health and safety reasons. You can say your last goodbyes before the cremation and collect the ashes of your pet once the cremation has taken place. 

Where can you scatter pet ashes?

There are few restrictions on scattering pet ashes in the UK, and you’re unlikely to run into problems as long as you use your common sense. Scattering the ashes on your own land is fine. Elsewhere, you should make sure the scattering does not endanger human health or the environment, is not on grazing land or places of special interest, and will not cause a risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals1

What are the benefits of cremating a pet?

Though you can find environmental arguments for cremating your pet rather than burying them at home or in a pet graveyard, the main benefit is often psychological. Being able to scatter the ashes of a pet held in much affection around a place they loved can be both a comfort and a release when compared to the constant reminder of a gravesite at your home. 

Finding a reputable pet cremation service

There have been scandals involving pet crematoria in recent years, and governance of the sector is still lax in comparison to human cremation, although new laws have started to be laid down to tackle the problem. This can make it a worry finding someone who provides a cremation service that merits your trust. The first person to ask is your vet, who should be able to recommend good pet cremation services in your area. The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria also run a website that will help you find reputable pet crematoria near you.  

Pet Insurance could help

All of our Accident Only, 12 Month and Lifetime Pet Insurance policies offer a sum to help with the cost of a pet funeral or cremation.  

As long as your pet is under 8 years of age, and your pet dies or is euthanised for humane reasons because of injury or illness during the policy period, we will pay:

  • where proof of purchase is available, up to the benefit limit shown in your schedule for the cost of cremation
  • where proof of purchase is not available, up to £75 for a cat and up to £150 for a dog (fixed amount) for the cost of cremation. 

As with all Pet Insurance policies, limitations and exclusions apply. You can find out more about our Pet Insurance here.

Bereavement counselling

If you’ve been upset by the illness or death of a pet, you can talk to someone offering understanding, confidentiality, and professional advice about bereavement by calling 0800 107 6197. The service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to customers who have a Pet Insurance policy with us.

We offer 6 levels of cover

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