The Pros and Cons of Pet Cremation and Burial

by M-Gillies
entrance to pet cemetery in San Francisco California

Grave markers in San Francisco, California’s pet cemetery date back to the 1950’s, when the Presidio base was home to approximately 2,000 army families.

While there are many options for arranging a funeral sendoff that memorializes and commemorates a life lived, pet funerals are increasingly growing more popular as pets are being recognized more as members of a family rather than just a pet. As such, when the death of a family pet occurs, there often comes with it a special kind of sorrow similar to the grief felt when a loved one passes.

Because any kind of loss can have an emotional impact on an individual, memorial sendoffs have been used to not just commemorate the importance that an individual or pet had on our lives, but it also gives as an opportunity to say our goodbyes and find closure in an environment surrounded by familial support.

When choosing which option is best for a pet, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of burial and cremation options. This will allow a smoother process in arranging ceremonies and reduce any unnecessary burdens, which could affect the grieving process. And while for most people a simple backyard burial or cremation may be the only viable alternative to choose from, it’s important to decide which one is the best choice for you.


PROS: When it comes to pet burials, the options can range between having a pet placed in a pet cemetery, buried on family property or in some cases, buried within in the same casket as an owner. While the latter requires a degree of research, the pet cemetery and home burials can be done fairly easily. These can include picking out a plot, headstone or memorial to place on the location of the burial site.

When choosing a pet cemetery as a burial option, these cemeteries will have and be able to obtain any legal permits associated with the burials of a pet. They will also have available alternative options, which do not limit themselves to just a plot burial, but may also include columbaria niches (for cremated remains).

CONS: While home burials are the most popular choice by most homeowners, there are important regulations and local city laws that have to be considered before proceeding with the burial. In fact, unless you live in a rural area, some localities may limit or even bar pet burials on an owner’s property. In the cases where the city will permit this burial, there will be special regulations that have to be taken care of in the preparation, which include ensuring the hole is deep enough to discourage scavengers, and that, in the cases of larger pets, that proper containers are used to prevent a depression in the grave once decomposition begins.

Furthermore, if a pet were to pass away in the winter months, this can prevent any home burials in northern climates, as the ground will become too solidly frozen to properly dig a grave.


PROS: If a pet owner chooses cremation as an option, the owner is spared the grief of handling the remains and researching their locality’s laws and regulations regarding pet burials. With cremation, pet owners will be able to use a cremation service year-round. This means, that if a pet companion passes away during the winter months, they will be able to have a memorial service organized for them right away.

Further, the ashes from the cremated remains of a pet companion can be placed inside a decorative or personalized urn, or used to create tasteful pieces of memorial cremation jewelry.

CONS: In most cases, when a pet requires cremation, there will be a couple of options available. These two options include a private cremation, where the pet companion is cremated alone (however this option will be more expensive) or a combined/group cremation, which occurs when multiple pets are cremated simultaneously.

To ensure ashes are returned to the correct family, crematories will use dividers to keep the animals separate. If a family does not want the ashes returned, the crematory may bury or spread the ashes in a mass grave that’s not publicly accessible, or bury or spread the ashes in a publicly accessible pet memorial area. In some instances, family members may want to keep the cremains so they may spread them in an area that is sentimental to them.

However, depending on the type of cremation option chosen, whether it is private or group the price will range depending on the size of the animal, and may even accumulate additional fees if the services are required after hours or on weekends.

Many local funeral homes do provide pet services and will give you the information necessary to help you decide how to provide a fitting sendoff for your pet.

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