No one wants to think about having to say goodbye to their pets, but it’s a part of being pet owners. Inevitably, our pets will pass away. While most of us struggle with that concept alone, there’s a whole other area many of us fail to consider, until the time when we’re grief-stricken and incapable of much thought at all: Aftercare.
Pet aftercare refers to how we handle our pet’s remains. Perhaps many of us believe that our cats, dogs, and other animals magically disappear, while others believe it’s a decision for their vet to make. But in reality, the fate of our pets’ remains lie solely with us, meaning the more informed you are today, the better decision you’ll make when the time comes.
Cremation: The first option you have is cremation. Most vets have a relationship with a pet crematory, and will offer you this service. This will likely be your easiest route to take, because it involves little planning or thought – neither of which you’ll likely be in the mood for after losing your loved one.
You can also choose a private cremation, which means you choose what pet crematory to go to. By doing this, you can decide whether to have your pet’s ashes returned to you, to do with them what you wish (more on that in a moment). Expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $400 for your animal (depending on his size).
You can also choose a mass cremation, meaning your animal will be cremated at the same time as other animals. This will cut your expenses in half, but also eliminates the option of having your pet’s ashes returned to you.
Burial: Aside from cremation, you can also bury your pet as well. One burial option is to choose a home burial (although it’s wise to make sure that your town or city allows this). Your pet’s burial site should be no less than 3-feet deep. When you do bury your pet, be sure to remove any non-biodegradable items such as plastic.
If you don’t want to bury your pet at home (or can ‘t), you can choose a pet cemetery burial (although Stephen King might have ruined that one for many of us). The benefit of this over a home burial is that you won’t have to relocate your pet if you ever move from your home.
You chose cremation, now what should you do with the ashes?
There is no shortage of sites online that offer you creative keepsakes that incorporate your dog’s ashes. Art from Ashes, for example, uses ashes to create a glass memorial of your loved one. Glassblowers use less than one teaspoon of ashes in the artwork, meaning you can hold onto the remaining ashes in an urn, or scatter them somewhere.
Everlasting Memories has a wide variety of animal urn pendants that are not only stylish, but hold a piece of our loved ones inside a locket.
If you’re not interested in creating jewelry from your pet’s ashes, one other popular decision is to scatter the ashes by a flowering tree or rosebush. Pet owners claim that they are reminded of their animal every spring, then the flowers bloom.
One downside of scattering your pet’s ashes is that certain elements are out of your hands. Let’s say, for example, that you scatter your dog’s ashes in his favorite park. A few years down the road, the park is torn down for a parking lot. Will you be okay with this?
No matter what you choose to do with your pet’s remains, the decision isn’t easy, and shouldn’t be made in a brief moment. We don’t want to be reminded that our loved ones will die, but if we prepare for the inevitable, we’ll be in better position to memorialize our pets the way we believe they deserve.