What is aftercare?

After your pet has passed away the process of physically looking after the body and handling the remains is termed aftercare. Being able to honor your loved one and memorialize them is an important part of the grieving process. Pet owners have the opportunity to say goodbye and remember all the years and times together and cherish the fond memories. Knowing that the physical remains of your pet have been treated lovingly and respectfully provides great comfort and peace.

Aftercare decisions vary between people based upon many factors. Each owner has their own unique emotional needs and preferences. Saying goodbye is a personal decision. The typical aftercare options include two main choices:

Cremation:

  • Private cremation: This means the pet is individually cremated and that only their ashes are returned to you. Many crematoria, including our partners, Hamilton Pet Meadow, can also arrange cremation viewings.
  • Communal cremation: This option means that the pet is cremated with other pets and no ashes are returned. The ashes are often scattered on the pet cemetery.

When the ashes are returned to you they can be in a variety of urns or jewelry/keychains. Some people prefer simple urns and others want to place photographs or metal etchings of the pet on the container.

Ashes may also be scattered. These may taken to places you and your pet shared many memories or to your pets favorite visiting location. Memories can be honored and there is a physical act of letting go which can be extremely peaceful.

Burial:

  • Burial at a cemetery: Burying a pet is a similar process to that of a human burial. At a pet cemetery the owners select a coffin/casket and there is an option to view the pet and hold a memorial service. This affords the owners another way to process the grief and say goodbye. A headstone is often chosen and can be visited for future times to feel close to the passed pet.
  • Burial at home: Home burials are not always possible due to local regulations. Before burying a pet at home please check with the local authorities and ensure it is legal and safe to do so.

How much does aftercare cost?

As well as personal preference and cultural consideration, budget does factor into some peoples choice of aftercare. Many pets have been at hospitals and ill before passing and there can be considerable costs associated. The pricing varies per aftercare option, private cremation is often the more expensive and communal cremation the least. Pet cemetery burial plots tend to be the most expensive. Size and weight of the pet influences all the aftercare options.

Is it wrong to not want the ashes back?

There are many traditions and ways to say goodbye. Some countries and cultures follow burial and prefer a resting ground and place to visit. Other cultures perform cremation and then have the remains at home or scattered.

Religious preferences also influence the decision making process for saying goodbye and honoring a loved one. There is no right or wrong when it comes to what feels right to you. This is your decision to try to find peace and come to terms with the loss. Some people do not want ashes at home or returned and others find it necessary.

Is there any other option to memorialize my pet than ashes or burial?

In addition to a burial plot or urn with ashes you can remember your pet with other physical reminders. Paw prints can be made in ink or clay and give you a unique personal way to feel close to your pet. Nose prints are also possible.

Clipping some of your pets fur or whiskers can be a lovely way to see and feel them. This can be placed in a frame with their collar or in a necklace.

Remember to Talk with Sympathetic People

It is often difficult to think clearly and try to make a decision when you are grieving and faced with saying goodbye to a pet. Try to talk to your family to help with what feels right and if you have any questions or want to talk we are here to support you.

Home Heart Veterinary End of Life Care. Logo is an outline of a blue dog and a orange cat looking up to the sky, They are surrounded by a blue branch shaped like a heart
Our Practice is Open!


At HomeHeart Veterinary End of Life Care, the health, safety, and wellbeing of our patients, staff, and the community is our number one priority.

Please Read Our COVID-19 Update