When you plan to spend an entire lifetime with someone, and they leave you suddenly due to some unforeseen circumstances, it can be heartbreaking. Whether it is a beloved dog, a beautiful cat, a chatty bird, or a fluffy rabbit, the loss of a dear one can never be easy and it is challenging to think about the next steps. But we must ensure to provide a proper goodbye so that we can be reminded of all the joy they brought into our lives. One can consult a local veterinarian who can help you to steer through the options and gain closure while honoring the memory of your furry friend.
Read the details below or skip to the section of your interest:
(A) How to decide whether to Bury or Cremate your friend
The loss of a beloved one can be very sad & depressing. Although, one would never want to plan the process of seeing them off in advance, but the times following your pet’s death could be full of emotions and one might not be able to make a decision considering the time-sensitivity. Hence, one needs to do proper research in advance whether they want to bury or cremate their pet.
Burial means to have a physical space (with a marker), where you can spend time to commemorate your departed companion. In India, burial in public cemeteries, as well as in-home gardens, is allowed. If you are burying in your backyard, the pet must weigh less than 40 kgs, buried at least 3 feet deep and 35 meters from your neighbors, and away from any source of water. Also, one needs to follow precautions like wearing gloves/masks and scrubbing off themselves after burying their pet to avoid contracting any infection. Do keep in mind to not bury any pet blanket, toy, or any other material along with your pet. Put a layer of rock salt below, and above the body for better decomposition and safety from getting dug by other predators. Some municipalities may discourage home burying hence, one needs to make sure it is aligned with local laws before making a decision. Burial in public cemeteries depends on the level of personalization and the type of casket you are looking for. In general, the process of public burial can be twice as expensive than cremation.
Cremation, on the other hand, is a more convenient option since you can have the keepsakes from cremated ashes of your pet with you wherever you go and it is environment-friendly, cost-effective, and practical.
(B) Pets that can be Cremated
All pets–Dogs, Cats, Rodents, Reptiles, Birds etc., can be cremated.
(C) Types of Cremation
There are 3 Ways of Cremation: Private, Semi-Private, and Communal as described below:
In Private Cremation, the pet is placed in a private and separate compartment in the cremation chamber. Here, you are assured that you will receive only his or her ashes.
In Semi-Private Cremation, pets are cremated together in a room but separated by partitions. One can ask for the ashes but whether they are of your pet or not remains dubious.
In Communal Cremation, your pet will be placed into the chamber along with other animals. Normally the ashes are not returned to you and it is the least expensive of all.
One can also check for services like witnessing your pet along with your family members during the cremation. Availability depends on the cremating service providers and your region.
(D) How to find Pet Cremation services:
For finding cremation services in your area, you can start by researching online based on the type of services you are looking for. After collecting preliminary information, you can reach out to your vet or nearest animal shelter representative, who can get you in touch with trustworthy crematories in your locality. Also contact your pet insurance company on the day of death, who can refer you to a crematory or advise an alternative to cremation (if asked for).
(E) Costs of Cremation:
Pet cremation is not a regulated industry in India as of yet. The costs of cremation varies from region to region but it usually depends on various factors including:
Size and weight of pet
Cost of living of the area
Type of cremation/memorial service
Selection of keepsakes
Depending on the cremation service provider, there could be additional charges for transportation (to bring your pet into the facility), viewing (if you wish to view the cremation) and urn, (the container in which ashes are returned to you).
(F) Process of Cremation:
Pets can be cremated in a regular human crematorium or one specifically intended for pets. The process of cremation is a 5-step process as described below:
Research and Prepare:
The first step in getting ready to see off your dear friend is gathering information about the cremation services in your area. One can start as soon as he becomes aware of the pet’s degrading health or if your vet advises you for Euthanasia. When the pet is deceased, your vet can guide you in completing the paperwork for your pet’s cremation (one would require a death certificate made by a veterinarian to be shown to the authority before cremation facilities can be availed legally).
For the cremation to occur, the pet has to be transferred from the place of death to the crematory. Most veterinary hospitals and clinics have agreements with local pet crematories for transportation hence, whether your pet dies at home or the clinic, you can reach out to the vet or the crematory itself (if known) to start the cremation process. Nowadays, private pet ambulances providing such services are also available, one can have the related information handy.
Until the pet is transported to the crematorium, he/she has to be cold-stored at your home or vet’s clinic. Also, after reaching the crematorium, he/she needs to be stored in cold storage along with other pets until the cremation process happens.
Deceased is placed in a completely enclosed, leak-resistant, combustible cremation container
Crematory staff will confirm the identity (cremation number) of the deceased by checking all paperwork. This Id is usually stamped on a stainless steel plate and kept with the pet to ensure its identity at all times
For cremation, the deceased is taken out from the storage unit and brought to the cremator unit. Pet’s belongings such as toys, blankets, and other belongings are not allowed to be cremated with your pet since these are not environment-friendly
The deceased pet is then placed in a cremation chamber and is subjected to intense temperatures of at least 1400 – 1800 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the organic matter to ash and bone. Once it’s over, the smoke is released into a chamber that mixes it with water to help separate the carbon from the smoke that is ultimately let out of the chimney. The bigger bone fragments are then pulverized into pieces and all the cremains are transferred to a plastic bag or an urn
The entire process may take around 30 minutes to up to 2 hours depending on the size of the pet. The color of the cremains can vary, but is normally gray or sometimes white. Any metal like tags, surgical pins are removed from ashes with either a magnet or manually. Around 3.5% of your pet’s weight is returned as ashes, which can be collected in a day or two with the help of your vet. One can choose to either return those to the environment through soil or water or can have them as keepsakes.
A new environment-friendly process called Aquamation (or alkaline hydrolysis) is also used in some places instead of flame-cremation. It uses a gentle flow of water combined with temperature and alkalinity, which helps to accelerate the biological course of time. Here, the ashes are clean and light green in color (this facility is not available in India yet).