The loss of a beloved dog is heartbreaking. They’re so much more than just our pets; they’re our friends, confidants and furry family. However, we know that eventually they must leave us. When that time comes, or even before, it’s helpful to know your options for your dog’s end-of- life arrangements.
But how do you decide if you should cremate your dog? What other details, like the cost of cremation, do you need to consider? Here’s what you should know to make the best choice for you and your four-legged family member.
What is cremation?
Cremation is simply the disposing of the body by incineration. This is done by placing the body in a small, enclosed chamber that is heated to temperatures of 2,000 degrees or more. The process takes a few hours, but eventually all that remains is ashes, tiny pieces of bone, and any inorganic materials – like a microchip for example. All of this is removed from the chamber and ground into a fine grey ash.
Cremation is a very popular choice. Mostly because it’s convenient and usually more affordable than having your dog buried in a pet cemetery. Better understanding the costs of cremation can help you make the right decision when the time comes.
To find a reputable aftercare provider in your area, take a look at the member directory for the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories. In addition, ask questions to make sure they are fully licensed to cremate animals and they follow the burial/cremation laws of your county.
How much does it cost to cremate a dog?
The prices for dog cremation can vary depending on the size of your dog, the type of cremation you choose, and where you live. However, the average dog cremation costs anywhere from $30 for small dogs in a communal cremation, to around $250 for larger dogs in a private cremation. Here’s an example of how it would breakdown by size of dog and method:
Communal: By far, the most affordable option is a communal cremation. It costs, on average, between $30 and $70. As its name implies, in this process, multiple animals are cremated together. The down side to this method, is that you can’t request your pet’s remains be returned to you.
Individual or partitioned: Considered semi-private, this method costs between $50 and $150 on average. In this process, multiple pets are still cremated at the same time, but they’re kept apart. This way each pet can be identified, and their ashes kept separate. This process is an option for pet owners who want to keep their pet’s ashes. However, you should know that it’s still possible that some degree of mixing of remains can occur.
Private: Private cremation is the preferred method for pet owners who plan to keep their pet’s ashes as a remembrance. In this process, your pet is the only animal in the cremation chamber, and is cremated alone. This method guarantees that no other pet’s ashes will get intermingled with your pet’s remains. As you would expect, private cremation is also the most expensive, at $175 to $250 on average.
Does it cost more to cremate a larger dog?
The answer is usually yes. It’s very common for prices to vary between dog breeds. For that matter, many crematories will ask you to share the breed type and weight of your pet before they’ll give you a quote. The reason is, the bigger the dog, the longer it takes to cremate and the more room it requires. This increase in price is most evident for private cremation. For example, a dog under 30 pounds, like a Jack Russell or Pug, might cost $175, while a mid-size dog, like a Beagle or Collie, might cost $215. Larger breeds, like a Bullmastiff or Great Dane, can cost upwards of $250.
Does the cost to cremate a dog vary by location?
Again, the answer is usually yes. It’s true for most pet services, even veterinary care and boarding. For example, in New York City, a private cremation for a small pet could start at $300, while in a smaller city or town it might run closer to $40. It’s also a good idea for you to call more than one local cremation facility. You want to not only be sure they can accommodate your needs, but be sure you’re getting a fair price.
What additional fees might I expect?
The crematory and your veterinarian’s office are separate facilities. For that reason, the crematory may charge an additional “transfer” fee to pick up the remains from your veterinarian’s office, or to deliver the ashes to you. This fee typically ranges from $50-$75. So, to assure that there are no surprises, discuss these fees up front with your crematory.
Another additional cost that many dog owners are willing to take on, is the purchase of a unique urn or memorabilia. It’s a way to memorialize your pet in a special way, while keeping them near to you. Decorative boxes and urns allow you to display their ashes. Specialized plaques and keepsakes, as well as jewelry, keep a small portion of their remains close to your heart.
Saying goodbye to your four-legged companion is hard. If you find it weighing too heavily on you, don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the many support groups for those mourning the loss of a beloved pet. A few excellent resources are Rainbowsbridge and The Grief Recovery Method. Getting the support you need is important, and being prepared when the time comes lightens the burden.