Laying Your Pet To Rest: Dog Cremation Or Burial?

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Dog cremation ashes on mantelAfter your pet passes on, taking care of their remains is the last thing you want to think about. So it’s best to prepare yourself by knowing your options, and maybe even making your choice, beforehand. This article discusses the two main options for taking care of your dog’s remains: cremation and burial.

The Dog Cremation Process

With more pet owners choosing cremation over burial — partly due to city ordinances in urban communities — cremation has become more affordable and easier than ever. The process of cremation is where your pet is placed in a chamber that is heated to 1400-1800 degrees and the heat reduces your pet’s remains to basic calcium compounds that we call ashes.

After cooling, the remains are removed from the chamber and are either placed in an urn (or other container) and given back to the owner, or are disposed of accordingly. Whether or not you’d like to take your pet’s ashes home with you depends on the type of cremation you’ll choose. Your budget plays a role here, as well.

Dog Cremation Types

There are three main types of pet cremation: private, semi-private and communal. Though terms may vary, the principles are the same.

Private Cremation

Just like it sounds, this choice ensures that your pet will be alone in the cremation chamber, and that the ashes you receive after the procedure is over, are your pet’s alone. Prices for a private dog cremation range from $200-$400 depending on the size of the dog.

Viewing Cremation

Not always available, a viewing cremation allows family to be present during the process in a separate viewing room. Otherwise the same as a private cremation.

Semi-Private Cremation

Also called a “partitioned” cremation, this option places multiple pets in the same chamber. Though they each have their own partition, co-mingling of ashes does occur. Note: In some places this process is considered a “Private” cremation so be sure to clarify this beforehand if you don’t want to risk your dog’s ashes mingling with others. In fact, many do not offer this service at all so it is crucial to make sure you are getting what you want at the price you expect. Prices range from $175-$250.

Communal Cremation

This option is also known as “Mass” or “Batch” cremation and places multiple animals in the same chamber with no form of separation. No urn is returned to the pet owner in this situation. Prices range from $50-$150.

Dog Cremation Questions

Understandably, you have a lot of questions surrounding your pet’s after care. No matter who you choose to perform this service for your pet, be sure you ask these questions, and that you’re satisfied with the answers before you move forward.

Who Will Perform The Cremation?

Many vets can perform cremation services, however, there are crematories that cater just to pets. The pet crematory industry is not highly regulated, though, so if you choose to use an outside service, be sure you use a recommended company and ask them lots of questions about their practices. We recommend searching for an accredited member of the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance. When you’re determining services for your loved one, you can never have too much information or reassurance.

How Long Does It Take?

As this is a non-regulated industry, there is no standard time period because every place is different. Many factors will determine the time frame including how far your pet has to travel to have this service performed. When you’re looking into this process for you and your dog, be sure to ask this question so you’re not stressed if the process takes several weeks instead of several days.

How Can I Be Sure It’s My Dog’s Ashes?

Whether you’re using your vet or a cremation service, ask them how, and what system they use to track the animals. Ultimately, it comes down to trust. Trusting the individual or organization you use to perform this service for you is key.

Is There An Earth-Friendly Solution?

The Bios Urn is a great way to plant a tree with your beloved pet’s ashes, allowing it to grow with the nourishment of your furry friend’s love. This is a great way to give back to the environment while also memorializing your sweet friend.

Home Burial

If the cremation route is not for you and you’d prefer to bury your pup at home, first make sure the law allows it. (In some urban areas, it’s actually illegal to bury your pet on your own property and you’ll need to contact the city to find the best way to dispose of the body.) If you do opt for home burial, make sure you bury your dog at least three feet deep in an area that’s likely to be largely undisturbed, and wrap the body in bio-degradable material. A stone or marker at the site is a great way to memorialize your pet, and also to let others know that the site is sacred.


Before you begin the burial service there are some things you’ll want to do. If you’d like to put your dog to rest in a more peaceful position, be aware that rigor mortis starts to set in around 3 hours. At that point it can be tough to put your dog into the position you want

Choosing A Container

There are many containers to choose from to lay your dog to rest. Coffins can be specifically made to fit your dog and the burial can be an experience in which the whole family participates, in remembrance of your beloved dog. If a coffin is not in your budget, there are other options depending on the size of your pet.

Small Pets

  • Lunch box
  • Cigar box
  • Matchbox
  • Shoebox
  • Tupperware
  • Jewelry container
  • Sunglasses container

Medium Pets

  • Cardboard box
  • Hat box
  • Laundry basket
  • Wicker basket

Large Pets

    • Barrel
    • Chest
    • Wooden Crate
    • Trunk Tote


There are some basic precautions you need to take when burying your dog. You always want to be careful of any diseases, even if you don’t think your dog has any. Here are some tips on how to handle your deceased dog’s remains:

  • Wear protective clothing or old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. If you plan on wearing the clothes again, you should scrub them with soap, detergent or bleach after the burial.
  • Wear disposable gloves and a protective mask. The mask is to prevent you from inhaling fungal spores.
  • Do not eat or drink while handling the remains or near them.
  • Double bag any soiled items in garbage bags and safely dispose of them.
  • See a physician if you feel ill after exposure to the remains.


If you’d like to bury your dog, but are unable to due to weather (snow) or some other event, you’ll need to refrigerate the remains. Be sure to place the body in an airtight, well-labeled container. If small enough, place the container in the refrigerator or another cold location. It is not necessary to freeze the body; however, if the body is too large to place in the refrigerator and you only have space in the freezer you may do this. I suggest that if you are unable to bury the body for an extended period of time that you look into cremation. It is difficult to say goodbye to a pet and move on if you are unable to lay her to rest for weeks or even months.

Burial In A Pet Cemetery

The final, and most expensive, option is to have your pet laid to rest in a pet cemetery. This option might appeal to you if you would like to have a sacred site to visit to remember your beloved pet, but you just can’t bring yourself to cope with the home burial process. This is also something to consider if you are in a rental property or an area that does not allow home burial. Pet cemeteries offer a wide range of products and services including providing caskets, headstones, and burial site maintenance. Some will even perform a memorial service for you and your family to attend. Costs and available services vary widely by location, so you will want to inquire in your local area.

Which of these options best memorializes your pet?

About The Author:

Michelle holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and has worked in marketing at Bank of America, Mattel and Hanes. Her expert advice and opinions have appeared in many outstanding media outlets, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Forbes, People, Reader's Digest and Apartment Therapy, among others.

She is the proud co-founder of Canine Journal and a dog lover through and through. Since the day she was born, she has lived in a home full of dogs. Her adult home is no exception where she and her husband live with Lily and Barley, their two adorable rescue pups.

In addition to her love for snuggling with dogs, she also has enjoyed working professionally in the canine field since 1999 when she started her first dog-related job at a dog bakery.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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July 12, 2020 11:57 am

Thursday we had to put down our 3-month old basset hound. We are heartbroken and devastated. We have been crying for days. I wanted one so bad. It doesn’t seem fair that he was so little. We miss him terribly. He had a congenital central nervous system disorder. He stopped eating and was running a fever. Then the seizures started. I took him to a vet who missed the diagnosis. I took him for a second opinion and they knew. They tried to save him. I could not be selfish and keep him on this earth. He is now at peace and no longer suffering. Jeremiah, momma and daddy love you. RIP. Thanks for the 3 months of joy, love, laughter. We are so sorry we didn’t know you were so sick. We love you bug a boo. We will never forget you.

August 25, 2019 3:57 pm

My dog died 3 years ago, he was 15 and a half years old, had him since he was a puppy, had to put him down, he sit on my lap, while there put him to sleep, other vets wouldn’t do it that way there wanted me to drop him off, I would never done that, took him home buried him in my back yard, the other vets would not let me take him home, he could be sold for science, that is so terrible, be sure you don’t leave you animals that way. I stillness him every day. Bichon Frisee.

Barbara Schwartz
October 5, 2019 12:03 pm
Reply to  Ginette

What a beautiful story. I’m going through the “is it time’ process, it’s just unbelievable, the struggle I’m going through. I’ve had Molly since she was a few weeks old, as well and she is 13 + a half now. Her mind is still so sharp but her legs/hips(due to severe arthritis) are just not wanting to keep up. She is the Love of My Life and this is going to be harder for me than losing my parents(which I know sounds insane but is just how I feel.) How do you REALLY KNOW??? I realize we know & understand our pets better than anyone, but I am being blindsighted because of the Love I have for her.She doesn’t seem to be “suffering”, yet I want the quality of her life to be the most paramount part of my decision. There’s so much more but I’ll stop now and pray for guidance & wisdom.

Grieving Today and how to handle Burial of pet
November 3, 2019 9:21 am

Just put my dog down. She was old and sick. Did a lot of research.It turns out that the dog will seek out a dark spot away from you when she/he decides to pass. Sometimes they will run away to find a spot to die. Be sure to tell your dog what a good dog she/he was and how the dog will now be going on to the next phase of her/his soul life. The life in the dog does not get buried it departs when the shell is dead. The life goes on to it’s next adventure.
When the dog is in your arms at the veterinarian, you may feel her/his life spirit pass out of the body as she/he moves to the next phase of existence. It is not the end. It is on to a new fresh experience with a possible new body.
~No one knows for sure that about the other side. But maybe she gets to choose her new life as a ????? or a puppy again. Take your pets body home and bury it. The digging of the grave is therapeutic. Add a cross or some type of memorial stone. Consider adding dogs favorite blanket to grave, Then say something about your pet. Kind of like a funeral. Over the next days, months, years, you will be able to go to the grave site and talk to your pet and this will ease the pain.
If cremating, just bury ashes and follow paragraph above. My advice is to have a place to go to mourn whatever loved one passes on to the next phase of their existence. You may find yourself visiting it every day or every year, but knowing the grave is there allows you to be closer to that pet or person and can makes a world of difference in an individuals mental health.
Final thought- Even though you may not think someone cares about a pet because they spent little time with it, does not mean they will not grieve, do not be surprised if their grief seems out of proportion. Many people care about their animals more than anyone will ever know.

February 22, 2020 11:02 pm

I dont know what to say. My pup passed away just an hour ago. i still have his mortal remains. RIP coco. We failed you champ. I wish we meet again someday … Rest easy.. see you at the better place.
I am crying rn.

Apiffany Gaither Billings
February 25, 2020 3:54 pm
Reply to  Vicky

Vicky, I am truly sorry to hear about your loss. Our article about dealing with your loss may be beneficial for you during this hard time.

Sally Skaggs
December 31, 2018 1:36 pm

I have a small chi who passed on Christmas, there was only a clinic open in Cartersville.. We took him in and he passed on the vets table..They had no way to dispose of the 15 yr old doggie so they preserved him in plastic and wrapped him in a blanket so we could bury him.. Only problem is due to rain happening everyday the yard is puddles everywhere.. Today is New Years Eve and I would like for his remains to be at rest.. Do you have a place I could take him and what would it cost..

Kimberly Alt
January 2, 2019 9:38 am
Reply to  Sally Skaggs

I’m so sorry for your loss. I suggest reaching out to your vet and asking about local options. We are not familiar with each area in the U.S. to provide a suggestion. Sorry we cannot be more helpful. You are in our thoughts during this difficult time.

Kate Welling
December 18, 2018 6:22 pm

My daughter’s horse just died, so I’m wondering what to do now. I love the idea of getting her cremated because my daughter loved her so much. When I find a cremation service, I will be sure to ask how long it will take. It makes sense that there isn’t a standard time period, just as you said.

Joanna Martinez
August 15, 2018 1:19 pm

My daughters dog was hit by a car yesterday and she didn’t survive. Most heart breaking thing to see my child so broken over this tragic situation. We buried her but my daughter ia not taking to it very well and doesn’t want her buried wants to keep her with her forever in her words. We rent see and if we move that’s her fear. My question is it possible to unbury her and take her to get cremated now that its been more than 24hours and since we have already buried her? Please help Im looking for ways to comfort her?

Kimberly Alt
August 16, 2018 9:04 am

I’m so sorry, Joanna. My suggestion would be to call the vet or place that would be able to cremate the dog and explain the situation to them. They will be able to provide exact answers for you. You are all in my thoughts.

Tom Jordan
December 18, 2018 11:19 am
Reply to  Kimberly Alt

Joanna, I know that it has been 4 months now and hope you got suitable info from your vet. I had the same dilemma 3 years ago with my 9 month old cat.. She was knocked down by a car and killed on our driveway. We buried her in our garden and 4 days later I could not bear the thought of her being cold and wet. I phoned the vet and they said as long as it was no more than 6 days it was ok to take her out and they could cremate her. This we did although the vet did not recommend that we opened the box that we buried her in. So we took her to the vets and they arranged everything. We now have our little girls ashes with us at home and she will go with me, when I do.
Hopefully this will help other people who find themselves in this common situation..
Tom… xx

Jolien Weytens
July 11, 2018 2:56 pm

My dog got hit Monday by a driver, at full speed and they didn’t stop. I only had her for 7 weeks but I got her the day I moved to the US so she was more than just a pet. She was a reminder to me and my husband that we were finally a family, and she was a big part of it. Now, it get’s too quiet around the house without her

August 15, 2018 6:23 pm
Reply to  Jolien Weytens

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your pet. I just lost my love. He is such a wonderful companion and soulmate, truly my best friend. I try to be more like my pet and to be more giving and living to others, especially other pets and people too. You can never fill the hole in your heart with your loss. A new pet can be a joy. You will know when that time comes. It is too soon for me. My thoughts are with you and all our little four legged friends and their families.

Aloha, Ron

Kimberly Alt
July 12, 2018 8:38 am
Reply to  Jolien Weytens

I am so sorry, Jolien. This article may help you in some way. Please know my thoughts are with you.

Jade haase
February 28, 2017 10:46 am

My dog died yesterday and I’m traumatized because she was hit by a car and nobody was home so I called my dad and he said he would be their right away.. I carried her a mile I would do anything for that puppy

Kimberly Alt
March 1, 2017 8:44 am
Reply to  Jade haase

I’m so sorry for your loss Jade. Losing a dog is not easy, they become our best friends and family. Our thoughts are with you during this time.

January 30, 2016 12:25 pm

My dog was put down on Thursday. I got home from school to find out my dog had been put down. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. My family didn’t want his ashes. Where do they go if you don’t want them?

Kimberly Alt
February 2, 2016 12:05 am
Reply to  Olivia

I’m so sorry for your loss Olivia. Depending on the facility that cremated your dog will determine what is done with his ashes. Various things can be done. If you want to know for sure, you can call and ask what they do with them. I know it’s difficult but try to remember the good times with your dog and he knows that you loved him very much. Our thoughts are with you at this time.