How to Organise a Pet Funeral

Posted: 13/12/2017

The death of a beloved pet can be very similar to the death of a family member or friend. In many respects, pets fit into both of these categories. Many owners have their pets since they were tiny newborns, and have seen them grow up and into old age. These pets have often been with them through various life milestones, whether it be a new home, new partners, births of their children, or other life experiences, so, the passing of a pet can feel very much like closing an entire chapter of your life.

It isn’t surprising that many of us are increasingly considering the idea of paying our respects to our pets in the same way as we do with humans: through funerals. In fact, according to marketing company Mintel, over a quarter of pet owners are considering doing just this when their pets pass away or have already organised funerals.

But as with funerals for humans, funeral services for animals vary. We have put together all the information you need to know about these funeral services if you are thinking about what to do when your pet dies. Also read our tips on coping with the loss of a pet.

Do you have pet insurance?

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Check the small print of your pet insurance cover to see if it covers burial or cremation costs. Or, if you do not have one and are considering taking out pet insurance, see if you can find a plan that covers these costs.

In recent years, certain pet insurance companies have started to integrate plans that involve helping with burial or cremation costs of a pet. This depends on the company you have taken out insurance with, so this is something you personally would need to find out, but this could take away a little of the stress involved in sorting out pet funeral services.

Pet Cemetery

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Having somewhere to go and pay your respects to your beloved pet may help with grieving.

If you are looking for something more traditional, perhaps considering a pet cemetery may be a good choice for you. This could be perhaps on the basis of religious beliefs or a personal preference of yours. It is often the case that you can opt for your pet to be buried in a coffin, in a style that you can choose, so the coffin can be personalised.  There will also be a memorial marker at the burial site. There exist numerous pet cemeteries in the UK that provide this service, but it is important to visit the cemetery prior to making a final decision. You should also consider the following:

  • What type of burial you want, or that the cemetery can offer, this can include a ‘green’ burial that is more environmentally friendly where trees are then planted on the grave, or it could be in the form of a formal burial plot.
  • Due to changes in legislation or a lack of demand, some pet cemeteries have closed in the UK over the last decade. So, it is important that you ask the company what will happen in the event of such a scenario occurring.
  • What are the opening hours? If you have opted for a burial, it is likely that you will want to visit. So, it is important to check how often it is possible you can visit, and whether it is possible you can travel to the destination with relative ease.
  • Check if the grave can be marked, as this depends upon each burial site.
  • Check if there will be a maintenance fee. Formal cemeteries need to ensure grounds are maintained regularly, so it is likely you may be asked for a one-off payment or annual fee so that this can be undertaken. Check prior to making arrangements so that you do not get any unfortunate surprise payment demands at a later date.

Pet cremation

Alternatively, you may choose to have your pet cremated, choosing to keep their ashes in an urn or perhaps scattering them in a place they once loved to go. Many veterinary practices now offer cremation services, however, it is important to ask whether they offer individual pet cremation, as some arrange pet cremation en masse alongside other waste materials, which may not be something you would be comfortable with.

In addition, pet cremation services can end up being more expensive than arranging the cremation yourself elsewhere, so check thoroughly your options beforehand. You check services that are available in the UK and who are registered and therefore adhere to the strict code of conduct provided by the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria (APPCC) The inspection system of the APPCC is known for being rigorous, ensuring that your pet receives a respectful cremation.

Pet burial at home

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Choosing to bury your pet at home may be cheaper, and a way to pay respects to your beloved pet regularly.

Whilst pet cemeteries require a license under the regulation of a landfill site, burying your pet at home does not require such stipulations. By law, a pet is allowed to be buried in the property it lived, as long as you are not paying an organisation to do it for you. You can also not bury a pet that is on land owned by someone else or that is public property without permission first.

Therefore, you can bury your pet at home in the event of natural causes, provided that it is not considered a danger to health in doing so, but if this was the case it wouldn’t be possible for you to take your pet home from the vet.

Many pet cemeteries or crematoriums can help with burials at home, by helping you with the arrangement of a coffin if you wish to choose one for your pet. You can also purchase plaques, markers, or memorial stones to memorialize your pet.

Preparing for a pet burial means taking care when handling your pet, cleaning soiled areas with disinfectant, and the size and depth of the grave should be sufficient for the size of your pet. The recommendation is usually at least three feet of depth above of your pets grave, to prevent disturbance in the future from wild animals.