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What about Pet Cremation Urns for Large and Small Animals?

by John M. Stuart, MSW

"Sahira" - photo by Andrea and Stefan
Photo:  "Sahira" by Andrea and Stefan

Cremation urns for pets? Yes. Just as the trend for human cremation has grown over the years, so has the trend towards the cremation and memorializing of pets. And, when we think of pets, we tend to think in terms of a dog or cat. But, there are many people who will find companionship with birds, horses, hamsters and even snakes. As a matter of fact a survey published in Scientific American Mind reported that snake owners were more likely than dog or cat owners to consider their pet part of the family.

A pet memorial service offers a dignified way to honor the beloved pet. Another option is to keep the pet’s ash remains (cremains) in a notable animal urn for ashes or partially in a memorial keepsake.

Cremation Services for Pets 

Let’s face it, most of us don’t go through a cremation process often in our lives, if at all. We don’t think about it until it needs to happen, and it’s then that we begin to learn about the choices and variables that are inherent in the process. For instance, many pet owners aren't aware that when an animal is cremated, the pet crematory will often do it with other animals, unless requested otherwise. You can ask to have an individual cremation for your animal for a higher fee. In doing an individual cremation, pet owners can be assured they are getting the cremains of their pet and not ashes of someone else's pet mixed in. You can read more about this in our article Pet Cremation and Pet Ashes

Many veterinary clinics contract with third party cremation services that provide individual cremation. Since many crematories can and prefer to cremate multiple pets at once, it’s important to check. Let your provider know of your wishes for individual cremation. Contact the Better Business Bureau or local veterinarians as a starting point to find pet cremation services that treat our animal friends with the dignity they deserve.

The cost of cremation for a pet varies on its weight and size. The cost for smaller animals, such as a hamster or bird, can be between $55 and $100. The cost for larger animals, such as a horse, ranges from approximately $300 to $1,300 for private.

Sammy's farewell - Equine Love

I had the opportunity to grow up on a horse ranch ten minutes south of Las Vegas, Nevada. The ranch was home to thirty Arabian horses, boarded and trained for competition. I witnessed many dedicated horse owners care for their animals they considered an important part of the family.

When a horse died on the ranch, I can’t recall a time when its owner did not grieve the loss. It was comforting to the bereaved when fellow horse owners shared in their grief.

Our family attended a small memorial service for Sammy – he was a champion Arabian. His proud owner, Mary, made the difficult decision to "put down" (euthanize) her beloved horse after he was severely injured.

To honor Sammy, Mary arranged a memorial. In front of Sammy's stall was a table beautifully arranged with championship ribbons she won at horse shows, her leather saddle and pictures of her beautiful Arabian companion and champion. The table's centerpiece was a wood photo pet urn for ashes. The urn displayed a picture of Sammy winning a 1st place ribbon with his proud owner at his side. Engraved at the base of the urn were these words of remembrance, "A champion forever.” Mary permanently displayed Sammy's pet urn for ashes on her fireplace mantle to always keep her dear animal family member near to her heart.

The demand for state-of-the-art equine crematoriums is increasing in response to the desire for a horse to be given the dignity of individual cremation. The cost for horse cremation can be in the range of $1,300 for private cremations and $300 for a general horse cremation.

What’s an appropriate Pet Cremation Urn?

A pet cremation urn or a cremation keepsake can stimulate cherished memories. Pet ash urns and pet memorial keepsakes are available in an array of designs to reflect the loving personality of the deceased. The size of the urn needed will depend on the weight of the animal. Extra-small through extra-large pet urns are available. As with human urns you want to use the weight of the pet while they were healthy as your basis for selecting the size. All sites have capacity on their product pages, most often in cubic inches. The rule of thumb is 1 to 1. In other words, for every pound your pet weighed you will need 1 cubic inch of capacity. Some sites will simply translate that into pounds in the description, letting you know that the urn is suitable for a pet weighing up to a certain weight.

The pricing of animal ash urns depends on size and material. For a parakeet or hamster, a small crafted ceramic urn can make for a very affordable, yet beautiful memorial. Pet cremains can also be scattered in a place of significance. A portion of the ashes can be retained to put in a keepsake or a piece of pet jewelry for ashes. Also, remember that although there are different materials, an urn for a human can as easily be used for a pet. So, if you happen to have a very large pet companion weighing in excess of 300 pounds, there are human urns large enough to hold all the ashes.

Placing our pet's cremains in a biodegradable urn allows the cremains to return to the soil as the urn naturally breaks down in the elements. Many biodegradable urns are available. Some are made with the purpose of planting with seeds. This allows a memorial tree to take root and grow where the much-loved companion can be remembered.  

Whether the pet was big or small there are many memorial solutions that should meet your personal inspirations. The unconditional love and loyalty pet companions freely give becomes a life-long connection for many people. This is what pet owners long to remember and will probably never forget. And though a memorial such as an urn, or an ash scattering ceremony helps to bring a bit of closure to the living being, the artifacts we keep help to bring us back to the feeling of love we shared.


John Michael Stuart, MSW has been a social worker since 1997. He has worked in nursing home, hospice and home health settings, including one of the nation's largest Social HMO demonstration projects where he coordinated care between physicians, patients and their families. John has had cerebral palsy since birth and has authored Perfect Circles, Redefining  Perfection