One of the most challenging moments any pet owner will face is the inevitable day we have to say goodbye to our loyal companion. The death of a pet is no small thing. These incredible furry friends can have quite an impact on our lives, and they become a very real part of the family. 

Although it may be difficult to think about this unavoidable part of life, knowing what to do after a pet passes away can help remove some of the stress we may feel in the moment. This can help us have the space and time to process our emotions without the added strain of big decisions like burial and cremation. 

As difficult as this may be, there are many options available to help you honor your beloved pet’s memory with grace, love, and care.

Can You Cremate Your Pet?

When your faithful companion passes, you’ll need to decide how to lay them to rest. While coping with the death of a pet is never easy, the options for their remains are simple. 

First, you can bury your pet hygienically on your property. This is a traditional option that has brought comfort to many families by keeping their pets close to home.

Others may choose to cremate their pets’ remains. Cremating a pet is an ethical and hygienic option for many people who live in more populated areas who do not have the space for home burial. Depending on the kind of cremation service you use, you can also retrieve your pet’s ashes for memorial and commemorative purposes. 

There are a few steps you can take to prepare your beloved pet for cremation after their passing.

What To Do After Your Pet Passes Away

Certain steps need to be taken immediately following your pet’s passing for the safety of yourself and your family. If your pet passes away in the care of a veterinarian, they can help you appropriately care for your pet’s remains.

Sadly, some pet deaths are unexpected. If your pet passes away outside of a veterinary clinic, you may be able to contact emergency veterinarian services. However, these emergency services are not always available or accessible. Although it may be difficult, there are circumstances in which we will have to prepare our beloved pets for cremation or burial without the help of a veterinarian.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about preparing your pet for cremation. 

Place the Remains on Ice

First, transport your pet’s remains to a cold environment as quickly as you can. This helps slow the remains’ decomposition process. 

In the event that you cannot transport your pet’s remains to a veterinarian clinic or emergency pet service, you may have to move your pet’s remains yourself. Decomposition begins immediately after your pet passes, and it’s important to transport the body before rigor mortise begins. Typically, we only have ten minutes to move a pet into a frozen environment.

One of the best ways to preserve the body of a pet that has passed away is to place it in a freezer. This is a necessary step whether you should choose to bury or cremate your pet that has passed. 

Wear Protection 

Even though this is your beloved companion, you will need to wear proper personal protection before moving your pet’s remains. Disposable occlusive gloves made of latex or rubber are typically the best option for your protection.

Package Your Pet’s Remains Safely 

Hopefully, you can quickly transport your pet’s remains to a veterinary clinic or service soon after their passing. However, in the event that you need to preserve these remains for a longer period of time, you will need to move your pet into a freezer or another type of cold storage.

When moving your pet to a more permanent storage space, you should place their remains in some type of bag, such as a freezer bag. Avoid placing your pet in direct contact with other frozen items such as food. It is always a good idea to wrap the body of a deceased pet in a bag to keep your freezer or cold storage as sanitary as possible.

This is going to be a difficult step, but it is a necessary one. Finding a large towel or blanket to drape over your pet’s body will make the process slightly easier. 

Make sure that you are able to wrap your pet completely in this cloth. Once that’s been in place, you’ll be able to handle and package your pet’s remains properly. It’s a good idea to use large, sturdy trash bags to help preserve the remains for proper disposal. Doubling up on the bags and making sure to secure them with a strong knot is also necessary when storing the body for any amount of time.  

Call for Help

Although this is the last step in the preparation process, it’s one of the most important. You should call your local veterinarian clinic or emergency veterinarian services if possible, but don’t forget to call for personal help and support.

Our pets are precious, and the space they hold in our hearts cannot be overstated. When they pass away unexpectedly or you find yourself needing to handle their remains, it can be incredibly challenging and emotional.

It is not easy to process the death of a beloved pet in any circumstance. Experiencing this onslaught of emotion while preparing your pet for cremation can make a challenging moment all the more difficult. 

Make sure you are not alone in this process. Whether you need to call a close friend or family member, don’t hesitate to ask for emotional support from the remarkable people in your life. 

What Are the Cremation Options for a Pet?

If you are making the decision to cremate your pet, call your local veterinarian for help. Depending on the services available, you may have to transport your pet to the crematorium, or they may be able to come and retrieve them. Your local veterinarian clinic should have all of this information available to help you through the process. 

There are three options for pet cremation: communal cremation, partitioned cremation, and private cremation. Each of these options has different prices and different processes.

If you want to preserve your pet’s ashes for commemorative reasons, you will have to use private cremation. This is a service where the crematorium will individually cremate your pet’s remains and return the ashes directly to you. Although this is the most expensive option, it is the only option that allows you to keep your pet’s ashes for memorial purposes.

Partitioned cremation involves multiple remains being cremated at the same time with partitioning walls dividing them. This group cremation is not as expensive as a private cremation. However, it also does not ensure that the ashes of your pet will not be mixed with other ashes. 

The most cost-effective option is called communal cremation. This method involves a crematorium cremating several remains all at once. The ashes are comingled and disposed of by the crematorium. There is no way to retrieve the ashes of your pet if you choose this option. 


The process of losing a beloved pet is never easy. If your pet passes away during a time when you cannot reach a veterinary clinic or emergency service, knowing how to prepare the remains of your pet can be very helpful in the days following their passing. 

Although this is a challenging and emotional task, making a quick and educated decision regarding your pet’s remains is essential. Although it may feel overwhelming at times, remember that properly caring for your pet’s remains is one way in which you can honor the love you have for them and begin looking towards their ongoing legacy in your life. 


Support for members offering pet cremation | Cremation Association 

Pet Owners' Expectations for Pet End-of-Life Support and After-Death Body Care: Exploration and Practical Applications | ScienceDirect 

The rising popularity of pet crematoriums and cemeteries | BBC News