10 Facts You Should Know About Dog Cremation

Taylor A Ritz For many people, dogs are not just a mere pet, but a devoted and beloved member of the family. Unfortunately, it’s undeniable that most of the time, we will outlive our dogs. The knowledge of this inevitable event makes it no easier when the time finally comes to say goodbye to our canine companions. One way to keep them with us forever is to consider pet cremation, so you can keep your pup with you in a manner of speaking.

1. What Is Cremation?

Cremation is a method of disposal for remains via burning. Remains are loaded into a cremator, which is housed in a crematorium and comprised of an industrial-strength furnace. This furnace generates temperatures between 1,600 and 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (870 to 980 degrees Celsius). These extremely high temperatures ensure the body completely disintegrates. Cremators can be fueled by oil, natural gas, propane, or coal. The chamber where the body is placed is called the retort and is lined with heat-resistant, refractory bricks. This layer of bricks protects the outer wall of the cremator. The container housing the body is slipped into the retort and burned until the body has burned completely.

2. Where Did Cremation Originate?

Cremation has been used as a ritual to honor the dead for thousands of years. The first evidence of cremation dates back to roughly 17,000 years ago in Lake Mungo, Australia. Even pet cremation is not a new idea; archaeologists discovered evidence of pet cremation in Palestine dated to 332 B.C. The first “modern” crematorium was developed in 1873 by an Italian professor named Brunetti. The first pet crematorium was opened in 1896 in the USA and is still in operation today; it goes by the name of Hartsdale Pet Cemetery and Crematorium. Today, the pet cremation industry exceeds $200 million per year in profit.

3. How Does Cremation Work?

As stated above, cremation is the process of burning a body at very high temperatures until it disintegrates. A body is stored in a cool, temperature-controlled area until it is approved for cremation. The body is placed in a flammable container and the cremator is pre-heated to 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit (593 degrees Celsius). The doors to the cremator are opened mechanically and the container is slipped into the chamber. Once the doors are sealed, the body is subjected to flames that resemble the intensity of a jet engine and aimed at the torso. Once the body is completely burned, the remains are swept into a tray.  What comes out of the cremator is not ash, as most people think, but instead brittle, calcified bones. These bones are then put into a grinder, called a cremulator, and pulverized into ash. The cremulator uses ball bearings or rotating blades much like a blender. As such, the term “ash” can be a bit misleading. The substance that families or pet owners receive after the cremation isn’t a soft white powder, but instead a coarse, grey material more similar to very fine gravel. The remains are then poured into the container of the family’s choice.

4. What Is Private Cremation?

Private cremation is similar to human cremation. Your dog is cremated individually. If you choose to receive your dog’s ashes, you can be sure you are getting the ashes of only your dog.

5. What Is Individual (Partitioned) Cremation

Individual dog cremation is the process where your pet is cremated in a larger cremation unit, but partitions are used to separate individual pets. While these partitions keep the pets apart, for the most part, the ashes you receive from the crematorium will likely have remnants of other animals mixed in. You will not be able to tell that the ashes are not only from your pet, but this may bother some people. 

6. What Is Communal Cremation?

Unlike with humans, when it comes to your pet, you can choose a communal cremation. In a communal cremation, multiple pets are cremated at once in one large unit. This process results in the ashes of all pets becoming mingled together, indistinguishable from one another. If you choose this option, which is the cheapest, the ashes are not returned to you.

7. How Much Does Cremation Cost?

The cost of cremation for a dog depends on both the size of the dog and the type of cremation you choose. Here is an approximate cost break-down of your cremation options.
Weight of DogPrivate CremationIndividual (Partitioned) CremationCommunal Cremation
1-30 lbs.$175$110$75
31-60 lbs.$200$125$90
61-90 lbs.$225$135$110
91-120 lbs.$250$145$125

8. Are There Additional Cremation Fees?

Depending upon the type of cremation you choose (as well as the cremation facility), there may be additional fees. These fees are approximate but are as follows:
  • Witness fee – $75: if you desire to witness your pet’s cremation. Note that not all facilities offer this option.
  • Transfer fee – $60: If you need your dog’s remains transported to the crematorium, whether from your house, the veterinarian, or another location, expect to pay more. This fee usually covers a maximum distance, usually around 20 miles, so double-check the distance with the facility.

9. What Do You Do With The Ashes After Cremating Your Dog?

Once you’ve had your dog cremated, you have several options regarding what to do with the remains. Some people decide to spread their dog’s ashes in a spot that holds significance. Others choose to keep the ashes in a decorative urn, box, or another container. Once placed in a container, you can either keep your dog’s remains in your home or have them buried in a funeral plot in a pet cemetery. Another, newer option for your dog’s ashes is to have them turned into a diamond you can wear.

10. What Alternatives Are There To Cremating Your Dog?

If cremation isn’t the right choice for you, there are alternatives for you to consider. You may choose to bury your pet at home, in your backyard perhaps, or to have them buried in a pet cemetery.

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Taylor Ritz

Taylor has a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. She is a former zookeeper and animal trainer. She has her own dog, Dobby, with whom she has bicycled across the U.S. and thru-hiked the Long Trail.

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