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Memorializing a Deceased Pet

Updated: Sep 15, 2023


Pets are considered members of almost every modern family. According to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 67% of all households in the USA (roughly 85 million families) own a pet.

Once you’ve shared cute cuddles, play dates, special holidays and traditions, or even hard-core stressful moments, it’s almost impossible to imagine life without your furry friend; yet the sad reality is, humans, outlive most of their pets.

Thanks to advances in technology, it is now possible to create eternal tributes such as memorial diamonds for pets as a permanent reminder of the love, joy, and companionship that the deceased pet brought into your life.

Consult a Veterinarian Immediately
Consult a Veterinarian Immediately

  • Check to be sure that your pet is actually dead. Often when a pet is nearing its final moments, there’s a likelihood of loss of consciousness that could last for a few minutes or even hours before the actual death occurs. In addition, breathing becomes progressively longer and the heart rate grows ever slower, which can be mistaken to mean that the pet is dead.

  • Wear gloves while handling the pet’s body as bodily fluids and/or waste are often released after death. Clean any areas that might have said fluid or waste.

  • Depending on the position your pet was in when it died, tuck in their front and back legs tight into their body.'

  • Contact a veterinarian to help you pick up the pet corpse and preserve it while you make funeral arrangements. Pet corpses start decomposing immediately after death and give off a foul odor that might also attract insects.

  • If your pet died suddenly at home and the cause is unclear, discuss post-mortem options with your pet’s veterinarian.

  • Decide on whether you want to bury or cremate the pet

How to Make Funeral Arrangements for Your Pet

The first step to overcoming pet loss is organizing a funeral that honors the life and memory of your furry friend. Depending on your local area laws, the options range from a simple farewell ceremony in the backyard to a more elaborate service in a cemetery or crematoria.

Pet Burial

Burial is a method of final disposition wherein the deceased pet is placed into the ground.

The legalities of pet burial differ by state and municipality: with some localities having more stringent regulations than others. Therefore, before deciding on this method of disposal, research and understand all laws pertaining to it.

At Home

Although burying your pet at home sounds like an easy fix, this method of disposal poses a serious health risk for pets, wildlife, and humans altogether if it isn’t done properly. A case in point, some pets are euthanized with pentobarbital to help them transition peacefully into the afterlife, yet according to scientists, this drug persists at toxic concentrations for at least 2 years in a partially buried carcass.

Given this risk, states in the USA such as Washington and Missouri not only mandate the approved methods for disposing of a dead pet but also specify how and where residents can legally bury their animals. Notably, Texas is among the few states that don’t have any rules against this method of disposal. Families are free to bury their pets on any land that they own or have permission to do so.

In contrast, people in the UK are permitted to bury their pets at home, on condition that:

  • You own the land where the pet is buried.

  • The pet is not buried near any water sources.

  • There are 2 feet of earth above the pet in heavy soils, and 3 feet in lighter soils.

  • The pet’s remains are not hazardous to human health. (Especially if certain controlled drugs have been used.)

Pet Cemeteries

According to the International Association of Pet Cemeteries, there are over 700 pet cemeteries in the United States. These create a final resting place for the remains of your pet so that you have a permanent and physical place to visit. The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria oversees most of the pet cemeteries in the UK.

Some pet cemeteries in the UK and USA also allow humans to be buried in the same plot as their furry friends. However, double-check with the appropriate authorities to make sure that this option is available in your local area.

New York is one of the states in the USA that allows humans to be buried alongside the cremated ashes of their pets as long as it is in a not-for-profit cemetery that has consented to a pet burial on its grounds. New Jersey, on the other hand, allows pet owners to have their ashes disposed of in their pet cemetery, but doesn’t allow pets to be buried in human cemeteries.

Pet Cremation

The trend of cremating pets has grown exponentially in both the USA and the UK over the years. The process is exactly the same as in humans, except that the duration differs depending on the size of the pet. Whether or not the cremated ashes are returned to you depends on the type of cremation selected: individual or communal.

The cremated ashes can be stored in an urn at home, scattered in a meaningful place, used to create a memorial tree, memorial diamonds for the whole family, a 3D painting, or even to create a permanent tattoo in honor of your deceased pet.

Losing a pet is as stressful as losing any other member of your family. It might help to reach out to your loved ones, a support group, or even a therapist. If there are children involved, be open, honest, and patient as they process what’s happening.

Confronting the Stages of Grief

Everyone that has lost a pet has likely been through these stages of grief; Shock or disbelief, Anger, Denial, Depression, and Acceptance. The time it takes to move through each stage varies, so don’t feel pressured to “get over it” or move on.

Honoring the Memory of Your Pet

Honoring the memory of your pet is important in coping with loss, because it helps you appreciate the life of your furry friend, the companionship, plus the love and memories shared. It is also a very personal aspect of the grieving process and therefore, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Some of the unique ideas for a pet memorial in the UK and USA include:

Turn the Pet’s Ashes into Memorial Diamonds

A Pet Memorial Diamond in a Ring Setting
A Pet Memorial Diamond in a Ring Setting

Memorial diamonds for pets have become a popular option for many pet owners in the UK and the USA, because of the possibility of eternalizing a deceased pet in something as beautiful and symbolic as a diamond.

The carbon extracted from cremated ashes and fur is converted into memorial diamonds for pets using specialized high-pressure, high-temperature technology.

Memorial diamonds for pets are set into any type of cremation jewelry so that the bereaved can keep their furry friend close. Popular options in the UK and USA include; rings, earrings, pendants/necklaces, and bracelets.

Make a Donation to a Local Animal Shelter

Another way to remember and honor the life of your pet is to make a donation to your local animal shelter. Whether it’s a monetary donation in the name of your pet or you would like to volunteer some hours of your time, your contribution will help improve the livelihoods of other animals, especially those that haven’t been blessed with a loving home.

Create a Memory Album

This is one of the easiest ways to honor the memory of a deceased pet. Include photos of the pet, their favorite toys, and any other interests that stood out. You can also include photos from the funeral or memorial service, condolence cards, and anything else that summarizes the personality of your deceased pet.

Keep a Memento

If your pet loved a specific item of clothing or a toy, consider framing it or keeping it somewhere safe. This also includes their leash, collar, or any other personal items that make an excellent memento of your time together.

Get a Permanent Paw Print

Memorialize Your Pet with a Tattoo of Their Paw Print
Memorialize Your Pet with a Tattoo of Their Paw Print

Another option is to have a paw print done before your pet is buried or cremated. This can be framed, set into jewelry, or used as a display piece in your pet memorial garden.

Pets are an important part of our lives and that’s why it’s fitting to remember them in one way or another after they have passed on. Whether you choose memorial diamonds for pets, a simple grave at home, or a huge celebration of life party, the important thing is that you acknowledge their impact on your life.

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