Keeping Pet Ashes at Home After Pet Cremation
by Jerri Haaven
Many pet parents find comfort in keeping all or a portion of their pet’s ashes at home. It helps keep the memory of your faithful companion near. In talking with other pet parents, I found that many people retain a portion of ashes to put in a display cremation urn, and many scatter a portion of the pet’s ashes in a home garden. Urns for pet ashes are available as biodegradable urns that can be buried, scattering urns, and as display urns made of ceramic, stone and marble, metal, and wood.
“Bear,” who was my sweet Peke-Chihuahua, gave me 16 years of abiding love. She fit in the palm of my hand as a puppy, gave the best hugs throughout her life, and loved to snuggle into my neck. She was my life. When the time came to make the unimaginable decision to let her cross over the Rainbow Bridge, my only choice was to have my veterinarian euthanize her. Looking back, options at the time were limited for after-life pet care. Today, there are more choices for pet parents, including cremation and receiving cremains to keep a pet’s ashes at home.
Every day someone just like me loses a part of their heart with the passing of these dear companions. Whether it’s a dog, cat, bird or a horse, our primary wish is to provide a memorable resting place as tribute to all of the years of love our pet gave.
When death occurs – or is imminent
It’s helpful for families to discuss their feelings around a beloved pet’s end of life and after-life care in advance. If end of life care is more complex, certain vets will provide palliative care. Contact your vet or research your area for vets that provide this level of care. When the time comes, euthanasia services are provided by most vets.
In researching for this article, I came upon All Pets Go to Heaven in Fall City, Washington. Their mission and services offer a way to say goodbye in a gentle, loving and respectful way. They offer a “cabin chapel” where, if desired, euthanasia can be done in a private, peaceful, and beautiful environment. Care of this level is often welcome, but not always easy to find.
If cremation has been chosen for after-life care, a few things to consider are:
- What service provider will be used for cremation? Your vet should be able to recommend a provider, or can assume responsibility for this.
- Do you wish for a private cremation that assures you the pet will be identified, and cremated privately so that you’ll receive only your pet’s ashes? Alternatively, your pet can be cremated with other pets, though any cremains you receive might contain ashes from other pets.
- What will you do with the pet’s ashes after cremation?
Keeping a pet’s ashes at home
Among options regarding what to do with a pet’s ashes, we find more and more pet parents choose to keep at least some portion in a pet cremation urn at home. A few concerns that come up are:
- Will other pets in the home react to the presence of a cremation urn for pet ashes? Cremated ash generally does not have an odor. Although it’s unlikely that any remaining pets at home would have a reaction to the presence of their lost friend and companion’s ashes in an urn, expect a surviving pet to show signs of loss. Any reaction might have more to do with your signs of grief than the actual cremains and urn. This planning guide on What to Expect When you Receive Cremated Ashoutlines a few things to anticipate when picking up the ashes of your cremated pet.
- What size cremation urn is the right size for your beloved pet? This depends on the size of Fido or Fiona. Product descriptions list cremation urn capacity in cubic inches. Each pound of before-death weight equals 1 cubic inch capacity. So, for a pet that weighed 30 pounds before death, look for an urn that lists a capacity of 30 cubic inches or more. For large breed dogs that weigh up to 195 pounds, there are large cremation urns such as the Classic Slate Pet Paw Urn. For any large animal, the Watercolor Rose Ceramic Pet Cremation Urn will hold the cremains of a pet that weighed up to 135 pounds. Browse our collection of pet cremation urns and search for by size (extra-small, small, medium, large).
What else can I do with my pet’s ashes?
Below are a few options that might be appealing.
- Consider burying or scattering a pet’s ashes at a place of special meaning, or in a pet memorial garden. You can choose a sturdy urn or casket, or opt for a biodegradable urn that will break down over time and allow cremains to nourish the earth.
- A portion of your pet’s ashes can be infused into glass, and formed into a glass heart paper weight, or into another distinctive glass cremation keepsake.
- Is there interest in burying your pet’s ashes in a local pet cemetery?
- Growing in popularity, is to put a very small amount of cremains in pet urn jewelry.
- You can let your pet cremains be part of a plant inside your house or in your garden with a planting system.
I was devastated by the loss of my Bear. When I said my final good-byes and I love you’s and I’m sorry’s, I sobbed. All I wanted to do was leave my vet’s office, race to my car, bury my head in my hands and cry. Before I could escape, the front desk stopped me to fill out paperwork. Are you kidding me, I thought barely able to breathe, much less hold the pen. Thinking back, I’m so sad I didn’t do more for her.
I’m grateful today that many choices exist to honor and memorialize a beloved pet. From creating an ash scattering ceremony, to planting a tree with a pet’s ashes, to simply retaining a small portion of ashes in a cremation pendant, each option offers the chance to pay tribute to a much beloved pet companion.
Would you like to learn more about the ins and outs of having a pet cremated? Read our article: Pet Cremation and Pet Ashes: Do Your Homework
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Jerri Haaven is a freelance writer, and a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant. When caring for her dad, who suffered from dementia and COPD, Jerri struggled with the negative side effects of his illness. She developed positive outlets to express herself and recover from her loss. Today as a certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Celebrant, she uses her skills to help people who are in the midst of their own personal story of grief and loss.