Will I get my pet’s ashes back if they are cremated?
Will I get my pet’s ashes back if they are cremated? We are asked this question so many times! It’s not surprising as there are lots of urban myths and many fake news stories out there. There are also, unfortunately, some quite awful real experiences, including my own. So let me take you through exactly what happens at a pet cremation. Then you can make up your own mind about how you can chose the best cremation for your beloved pet.
What is a pet cremation?
There are two types of pet cremation. Individual and Communal/Companion Cremation
If you choose an individual cremation then your pet will be placed alone in a clean cremation chamber. The chamber is activated to a heat of over 760 degrees Celsius and your pet will remain until only sterile bone fragments are left. These are then taken and passed through a clean cremulator which will process the remains until they become fine ashes. You can sometimes attend the cremation although it is not obligatory. Some places offer a chapel of rest where you can spend some time with your pet before cremation.
You will then be given the ashes along with a cremation certificate. The amount of ashes you receive will be dependant on the size of your pet. See our chart of ashes by pet and breed.
When I took my beautiful April to a pet crematorium, that I shall not name, I received a lot more ashes than I was expecting. When I checked I realised that although I had paid for an individual cremation she must have been given a communal cremation.
There is nothing wrong with a communal cremation if that is what you want. Lots of people don’t actually want their pets ashes returned and so they are cremated together. It is also a much cheaper option. But if you want only your pet’s ashes returned then you will need to do your homework.
How can I make sure I get my pet’s ashes back?
Speak to your vet
Find out which pet crematorium they will send your beloved pet to. Ask if you can speak to or visit the crematorium. Get them to break down the costs and tell you exactly what service you are paying for. You don’t have to take the service that your vet is offering although a good vet will talk you through all your options and be able to offer you alternatives.
Do your own research.
A good pet crematorium will offer you a variety of packages and more of them are now encouraging people to attend the cremation so that you can say goodbye in your own way. You could visit the crematorium or several of them and see for yourself what services they offer and get a good idea of whether it is the sort of place that is going to suit you and your pet. Price is often, but not always, a good indicator an individual cremation will cost more than a communal one.
I’m afraid Pet Crematoria are not regulated in the same way that human crematoria are because – and this makes me extremely cross – pet remains are officially classified as waste. They are regulated under the Animal By Product Regulations and, in some parts of the UK, by Waste Management Regulations. In other words they are regulated as waste sites.
There is no one governing body that can give you impartial advice so I would strongly recommend doing your research. If you don’t think you want to do this and your vet cannot help please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’re always very happy to do this on your behalf. It’s your right to know.
We’re compiling an independent survey of your experiences so tell us your good and bad experiences and we can let you know who is doing a brilliant job, and who is not. It takes 2 minutes so click this link to take part. Pet Cremation Survey