≡ Menu

Just as it has for people, cremation is becoming a more and more popular form of disposition for those who have lost their beloved pet. Pet cremation is ideal for many, for a variety of reasons – such as elderly people who are not able to physically handle their pet for burial, or individuals who do not have property in which they can inter their companion. More over, pet cremation offers a number of ways one can honor the final remains of a companion animal, such as burial of the ashes, scattering in a favorite location, or the more popular choice for many – placement in a memorial ash vessel. In recent years, the death care industry has certainly expanded to offer truly fitting memorial urns, and this expansion is, perhaps, most seen in the vast array of pet cremation urns available. From pet urns that feature a favorite photo, to dog cremation urns aimed to pay tribute to man’s best friend, and even one-of-a-kind ceramic and glass vessels created by artisans to honor a truly special friend – these ash urns offer a befitting remembrance to capture and honor the countless memories left behind by a lost companion animal.

Selecting the right size for a pet cremation urn is important, but easier than one would expect

Pet owners searching for a memorial to their beloved friend often wonder what size urn they will need. Because the amount of ashes a cremation produces varies significantly depending upon a myriad of factors, it is often best to determine the urn size after the cremation has taken place. But, in cases in which that is not practical, a common rule-of-thumb typically works well to assure that you do not select an urn that is too small.

The rule of thumb:

In general, you should select an urn that is about 1 cubic inch for each pound that your pet weighed. Typically, it is a good idea to add 10 cubic inches to that number, to help ensure the urn will be large enough (i.e.: A pet weighing 60 pounds would need an urn that held 70 cubic inches).

It is important to note that this rule cannot be counted on to give reliable results all of the time. But, many memorial industry professionals have found that it is very useful in a vast majority of cases. The rule typically produces a very conservative estimate of the amount of ashes that a cremation will produce. Therefore, following this rule will usually guide you to select an urn that is large enough for your pet. There is a risk, of course, that the urn will be larger than you actually need, but, for many pet owners, that is not a significant concern.

How to arrive at a precise measurement:

If the cremation has already been performed and ashes are available, it is possible to figure precisely how large an urn you will need. Just follow the steps below:

Pet urns are available in a great number of designs and sizes

1. Measure the width and depth of the temporary container provided to you by the crematory.

2. Open the container and measure and measure to the top of the ashes, which are usually provided to you in a separate plastic bag. (If doing this makes you uncomfortable, do not hesitate to ask someone at the crematory to do it for you. Most will gladly do it.)

3. Remembering from geometry that the volume of a container equals the product of the length, width and height (v=l * w* h), multiply the numbers in step one and then multiply that answer by the number in step two. You will then know the exact size (in cubic inches) of the urn you will need to select.

It certainly goes without saying that the loss of a pet can cause an amount of grief that often surprises many pet parents, especially when that loss is unexpected. The silent nature of a special companion can cause one to not recognize the impact they have in our lives until, unfortunately, after they are gone. Because many feel the dire need to honor their lost pet, a lot of thought often goes into finding the right urn for their final remains. For this reason, among many others, it is very important to know what size urn will be right for one’s needs. Knowing what to look for in size can certainly help find the perfect vessel for a pet’s remains, and facilitate obtaining that final tribute – which goes a long way in helping one gain closure, and heal from the grief felt after the loss of a treasured friend.


The death of a pet can be a traumatic experience for any family, especially when children are involved. The question of what to do when a pet dies is not an easy one and, in today’s fast paced world, most families do not give it much thought even until the time comes. So, what is the best way to help a family experience healthy grieving over the loss of a pet? Should a death be thought of, and even spoken of, as a disappearance? Should a replacement pet be found immediately? Should a funeral of some sort be held? What is the best thing to do with the deceased pet’s body?

All of these are tough questions that cannot be answered in detail in a short article such as this one, but they deserve at least a cursory glance nevertheless. And that is what we intend to do in the rest of this article.

Deciding the best course of action for what to do when a pet dies requires, first, that a good analysis of the situation be at hand. There are three main scenarios that should be considered when contemplating this question, each with their own set of recommendations and ideas. We will discuss these scenarios below. They are what to do when a pet dies in a home, what to do when a pet dies at a veterinarian’s office, and what to do when a pet simply disappears. Wise pet owners will treat each of these scenarios differently and will, perhaps, have a plan in place before a death for just how to react to each of these situations should they occur. Here are some of our ideas below.

What to do when a pet dies in a home?

The loss of a pet in the home can be difficult, but being prepared can help ease the pain.

When a pet dies at home, it is often an unexpected occasion – perhaps as the result of an accident. This requires the special touch of a person who can think on his or her feet. The first thing to consider when a pet dies in a home is the nature of the death. Often it may be the case that a pet’s body has been mutilated, such as would be the case in the event of a car accident or an attack from another animal. Many people have been known, in such cases, to simply conduct a quick burial, more or less immediately. This may be a morbid experience, and it is probably best from an emotional perspective that children not be involved if possible. (If a child was a witness to the death, then it may be advisable to consult a professional fairly quickly. If a private counselor is a regular part of the child’s life, then an adult would do well to give him or her a call more or less immediately. Otherwise, it is probably advisable to consult the child’s school to talk to a counselor there and, perhaps, arrange for a meeting as soon as possible. It is very important to not underestimate the traumatic effects the sudden, violent death of a beloved pet can have upon a child – especially a child who is in his or her elementary school age years.

After tending to the emotional needs of anyone who may have been traumatized by the pet’s death, the next task becomes disposing of the body. As we said above, a quick burial is often the best option, but there are a few things to consider before doing this. The first is the location of the death. If a cat or dog died in a rural area, on the owner’s very own property, there is likely no major issue involved in giving the animal a quick burial not far from the scene of the death. If the death occurred in a urban area, or on property not belonging to the pet’s owner (such as in a home rented by the pet’s owner), a burial may invoke legal complexities. In these cases, the best bet is probably to call a local animal control official for help in disposing of the body. Before inviting this officer to your home, however, you should inquire as to what the plans are likely to be for the body. In some cases, the answer may not be in keep with your ideas. For example, some animal control departments make it a practice to simply dispose of animal bodies in a regular land fill. If you and others in your family desire a more distinguished disposal of the body, we recommend you consult a veterinarian’s office for suggestions. Perhaps a nearby pet funeral home or pet cemetery will be of best assistance. Be warned, however, these services can be expensive. It is best to inquire about pricing before you agree to any services provided by these establishments.

When a pet dies at a veterinarian’s office

A trained professional can greatly help during the loss of a pet that is sick or injured.

Though statistics are hard to come by, experts generally say that most pet deaths these days occur in a veterinarian’s office, often the result of euthanasia ordered by a pet owner when a beloved pet’s medical situation has reached the point of no reasonable hope for return. A cat or dog (or any animal, for that matter) that has been properly cared for by its owner can generally be expected to pass away in this fashion.

It may come as some surprise to know that many veterinarian offices have no special procedure for how to dispose of a pet’s body once it has been euthanized. Yes, they simply toss it in a dumpster, right along with all the other trash from the office.

Because many offices also have a contractual relationship with a pet crematory, these instances are usually rare in this day. Most veterinarian clients who leave their beloved friend to be euthanize also agree to cremation service, but there is usually an additional charge for this service, so a significant number do not. And this leaves the veterinarian staff with the burden of finding a way to dispose of the body.

For many clients, disposing of a pet in a dumpster – and, of course, the local landfill eventually is not necessarily a traumatic idea. But, for children, it may very well be. While we would never promote the idea of lying to children about what has happened to the body of their beloved pet, it may very well be the wisest option to simply avoid the topic all together if a family has not chosen the cremation option.

When a pet disappears

The final possibility that could result in the loss of a pet is simply a disappearance. These can be the most emotionally difficult types of pet loss simply because of the lack of what psychologists call “closure.” Not knowing whether a pet has died or has simply wandered off can be an exceedingly traumatic experience for child or adult alike.

Experts suggest that, in this case, the best thing to do is keep hope alive. There is no need for an immediate memorial service. Many families have testified that their beloved friend has returned to them, almost miraculously, even years after it went missing. While you might consider installing a plaque or some other memorial device in a special place in your home to commemorate the great memories your pet has brought to your family, it is important to save room for hope. Do not, experts warn, make reference to the pet dying in any text – until, that is, you can confirm that pet has died. It is generally more comforting to assume that a pet has wandered into the loving arms of another caring owner than it is to think that it has died. Keep that thought alive until you know otherwise.


Child and infant memorials play a huge, but often unrecognized, role in our society, helping to ease the pain of the parents of nearly 1 million babies who die before, or just after, birth each year in the United States. Some studies show that about 16 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriages or still births today, and, because these lives are so short-lived, society often encourages parents to try to quickly “get over” their loss. Yet the grief that these parents experience is the same as that of someone who has lost an older child, and healing from that grief is, understandably, anything but easy. While society may attempt to trivialize these emotions, child and infant memorials help do the opposite. They are great for helping parents, as one popular website devoted to this topic says, “live with their loss, not ‘get over’ it.”

Memorials to children or infants who died in miscarriage or who were still born are often purchased by the parents themselves as, almost, a secret memorial. Full scale funerals and elaborate memorials are typically not done, and this is, perhaps, because the rest of society has never experienced such a loss, and therefore cannot sympathize with the grieving parents.

But experts point out that the grief of these parents is certainly real and, indeed, a powerful force. Child and infant memorials, therefore, like all memorials, are of utmost importance in these cases.

Many organizations have begun in recent years that aim to help grieving parents build child and infant memorials that will live for eternity. One of the most influential of these is the Kirby Scott Foundation, named in honor of a child who died at birth, whose mission is to help parents pay for headstones and other memorials. The foundation’s website also serves as a sort of clearing house for links to other organizations that give support to parents in other ways.

One such organization has worked since 2001 to have October 15 recognized across the world as Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This group of volunteer activists has secured signatures from governors of all 50 US States on resolutions officially marking the day and encouraging residents to burn candles from 7 -8 p.m. that evening. The goal, the website says, is for the world to someday experience a 24 hour wave of light as each time zone burns its candles for an hour. Such an event would certainly draw much-needed attention to the grieving that parents suffer when they lose a child or infant.

Another intriguing project is the Miscarriage & Infant Loss Memorial Book. A group of volunteers in a Catholic parish in England assembled a complete book of memorials that parents have written for their lost children. The group then arranged for the book to be permanently displayed at their church and placed at the altar for each Mass service. This first book was so well received by parents and others in the community that work is now being completed on a second book, and the group hopes to find a similar home for it in a church in the United States. Plans are also already underway for a third book that would be placed in a church in Germany.

These are just a few of the many organizations that offer vital help for those families who are recovering from the loss of their child. And while these organizations welcome anyone needing the help with open arms, reaching out to get help is often the most difficult step to overcome. Moreover, not everyone grieves the same way – and the thought of sharing one’s emotions with a group of strangers can be more stressful than comforting. Memorial keepsakes that showcase light-hearted can help bring comfort to those who need it most, where they need it most. For example, a child cremation urn featuring angels playing on the clouds will be a constant, comforting reminder that the lost child is at peace. Alternitavely, a child grave marker offers a permanent tribute that can always be visited when the family of the lost person needs to be close to them. In reality, anything from a small keepsake cremation urn, to a piece of memorial jewelry – or even an elegant visual remembrance such as a pieces of cremation art – can help become a powerful tool in healing from grief.