Planning for your dog’s cremation is an emotional process, but the more information you have about the choices involved in dog cremation, the more prepared you can be when the time comes. In this guide, we'll explore how much to cremate a dog would cost and how to go through the whole process of pet loss and dealing with everything that comes with it.
Don't feel guilty. We all want our dogs to pass the Rainbow Bridge in good health, but pet owners on a budget only have so much money to spend. Wondering how much to cremate a dog is a good and responsible question to ask. Here's what you should know.
You will need to start with a plan.
Losing a pet is devastating. No one wants to think about it, but it's better to prepare yourself for pet loss in advance if at all possible. When the time comes, the last thing you'll want to do is sit in your veterinarian's office and try to figure out a plan and the costs of cremating a dog.
Pet cremation isn't your only option (you can also choose to legally bury your dog in other ways) but it's best to do your research and be informed. You'll need to consider how you'll go about the process, what you'll do with your pet's remains and think of your budget.
Table of Contents
- When to Arrange Your Dog’s Cremation
- Step 1: Choose a Dog Cremation Option
- Step 2: How to Choose a Dog Cremation Facility
- Step 3: Planning with Your Pet Crematorium
- Step 4: Consult With Your Vet
- Step 5: When Dog Cremation Time Comes
- A Case for Considering Cremation of Your Dog
It's a sad time, but it's good to stay proactive. Take into consideration where you live. Do you have enough room in your yard for a burial plot? Does your city have a pet cemetery? Are there certain times of the year when the ground is frozen in your region? We'll look at all of these questions and more below.
Dog Cremation Guide
How Much to Cremate a Dog Costs
When to Arrange Your Dog’s Cremation
When your dog passes away, the last thing you want to do is make emotional decisions about what to do next. Of course, it is important to make these decisions, but it is much easier to make them ahead of time and have a plan prepared. This eliminates the risk of making rushed decisions in regards to your dog’s remains due to emotional overload.
So, when should you begin to make cremation arrangements? The answer to this varies. There are a few rough guidelines that most vets provide, however, that can be helpful.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a fatal illness, but he still has a good quality of life, it is time to begin planning because there's no way around this. You may have weeks or months left with your dog, but you won't know for sure.
Another time to begin thinking of cremating your dog is if your Fido has reached his geriatric years or entered into the end of “life expectancy” for his breed. Dog's life expectancy for different breeds varies. Obviously, there are dogs who far exceed average life expectancy for their breed, but this is a good time to start getting prepared.
Did you know that dogs instinctively begin to change their behavior when death is approaching? If you notice signs that your pet's health is failing, you should start thinking about your options and how much to cremate a dog would cost.
Signs of a dying dog may include changes in appetite, changes in thirst, changes in consciousness, lethargy, slowed breathing, and decreased pleasure in things he previously enjoyed. It's usually not difficult to see when your Fido starts behaving differently.
Before you make any decisions, rule out all other causes.
In this situation, it is always prudent to visit your vet just to ensure that these things are not the result of any illness. In geriatric dogs, these are often the sign of a preparation for death. As your dog begins making these preparations, so too should you.
Now that you have an idea of when to begin making decisions in regards to your dog’s cremation, you need a place to begin planning. Figuring out how much to cremate a dog costs is not the first step, but we'll get to that. Consider first of all if cremating a dog is even an option in your book.
Write down your points of contact, prices, prepayments; this will help you to stay on top of things when your mental clarity is tested. Begin by making a written record of your plan of action for cremating a dog once you know that this is the way you wish to go in.
READ THIS: Checklist for When to Put Your Dog Down
Step 1: Choose a Dog Cremation Option
The first thing that you need to know is that you have three options when it comes to cremating a dog. Here's what available to you:
- Private dog cremation
- Individual dog cremation
- Communal dog cremation
Private cremation of a dog is a similar idea to human cremation. Your dog is cremated individually. If you choose to receive his ashes, then the ashes that you're getting will be those of only your dog.
Individual dog cremation is a process where pets are cremated in a larger cremation unit, but partitions are used to separate the pets from one another. Due to the way that this process works, however, if you choose to receive your dog’s ashes back, you may also get some ashes of other animals cremated at the same time in that unit.
Communal pet cremation is – yes, you guessed it – where multiple pets are cremated at once in one large cremation unit. This process results in all of the pets' ashes being commingled, so when choosing this option, ashes are not returned to you at all.
How Much Does It Cost to Cremate a Dog?
There are a few factors that go into figuring out how much to cremate a dog would cost. Primarily, the company that you choose, the type of cremation that you choose, and the size of your dog will be the deciding factors.
While dog cremation prices vary, you can expect to pay along the following price points:
|Private Cremation||Individual (Partitioned) Cremation||Communal Cremation|
Additional Pet Cremation Fees
Depending upon the type of pet cremation you choose as well as the facility you select, you may also be faced with additional fees when planning how much to cremate a dog. These numbers are just an average, so don't be surprised if the actual price varies a bit.
$75 Witness Fee – This is for pet owners who wish to be present at their dog's private cremation process. Not all facilities will allow this, however, so check in advance.
$60 Transfer Fee – This is a fee for transferring your dog's remains to the crematorium. It may involve the crematorium picking up your dog’s remains from your home or from your veterinarian’s office. This fee usually only covers a select travel radius, so be sure inquire the place beforehand. The average travel radius is around 20 miles.
Pick a Pet Cremains Urn Container
If you choose a private dog cremation or find a facility that offers partitioned individual cremation of pets and you want to bring your dog’s ashes home, you will need to select a cremains (cremated remains) container for storing pet's ashes.
Cremains containers are most often urns or decorative boxes or statues.
Pricing on these containers varies drastically since there is so much variety available. You can find containers costing $25, or you can find them costing well over $1000! Remember to include this additional expense if your goal is to figure out a full breakdown of how much does it cost to cremate a dog with everything included in the package.
Amazon and other retailers have some of the best prices for great looking pet cremation urns for dogs – see them here.
There are also more expensive services that do engravings on pet cremains urns and containers. I personally have never ordered from them, but you can take a look at sites like ForeverPets.com and MemorialGalleryPets.com – both of these look legitimate.
Unlike with human cremains urns, there's really no rules for pets. Most of these cremation remains containers you'll purchase will be good for any dog, so the only consideration is the two or three sizes of the urn and particularly the style and design. Use your best judgement and honor your loyal companion with something special.
Step 2: How to Choose a Dog Cremation Facility
Every city has a selection of dog and cat cremation facilities that work with local veterinarians. If you are unsure of where to begin in selecting a pet cremation facility for your dog’s cremation, you'll get the best recommendation from your veterinarian.
Alternatively, you can also just Google “pet cremation facility near me” and start there.
A consultation with a veterinarian is highly recommended, however, for many reasons. After discussing the process with your vet, you may have some questions about the facility that they recommend. You may also want to compare them to other places. Begin this process by jumping online and searching for local pet crematoriums.
Most locations have a website that offer basic information about their services. Don't be afraid to call the location to speak with someone directly about their dog cremation services as well as how much to cremate a dog costs at their place. This is a big decision, so don't feel guilty about taking the time to get all of your questions answered.
For example, I temporarily live in Los Angeles. I simply went online and search for “best pet crematorium near me” and got a bunch of applicable results. There's some known Paws Pet Cremation company, and there's a whole Yelp page dedicated to that. Try this.
You may want to visit a pet crematorium beforehand, and this isn't a bad idea. However, you should be aware that most places require you to call ahead of time and get the permission from someone at the facility instead of just showing up.
So, how do you know whether a crematorium is a right place for your pet to be cremated?
The first thing that comes to mind is that a good crematorium will obviously be the one that has not been noted in the news or in public records for unethical practices or questionable conduct. Once again, use the power of the internet and research them.
Another thing to consider is that your dog's crematorium should be forthcoming with information about their pet cremation process. You should be looking for a facility that has a good reputation in the veterinary community and one that makes you feel comfortable. This is why consulting with a vet (or even a few of them) is the best course of action.
Finally, since you're trying to figure out how much does it cost to have a dog cremated and calculate your expenses, remember to ask about the pricing and any additional or hidden fees. Put those numbers into your budget; it may just come down to this.
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When you have chosen a pet crematorium that you feel comfortable with, you want to ask them specific questions to find out more about their dog cremation process, specifically.
Feel free to bring in a list of the questions that you want to ask, including how much to cremate a dog costs in total. That way you won't forget anything if you begin to feel overwhelmed, which – from personal experience – definitely may happen.
Some questions you may want to ask of dog crematorium employees:
- How much does it cost to cremate a dog at their place in total?
- Are there any additional or hidden fees you should be aware of?
- Do they work directly with veterinarians, and if so, is your vet on the list?
- If they don't, are they willing to pick up your dog from your vet?
- Will the crematorium pick up your dog's remains if he passes away at home?
- If they will, do they have any specific pick up days and hours?
- How long will they hold your dog’s remains before cremating him?
- How long will the whole dog cremation procedure take?
- How long before you can pick up your pet's ashes to take home?
- Do they offer a selection of cremains urns or containers?
- Can you use a pet cremains container that you bought yourself?
- If you are not asking for your pet’s ashes back after your dog has been cremated, where will the ashes be spread? Is this a location that you can visit?
These are just some sample questions that you should inquire about, but make sure to write down anything else that comes to your mind and don't be shy about asking. Be as thorough as you can with these questions, and particularly when it comes to discussing how much is dog cremation at their place and any additional fees or charges.
Asking plenty of right questions will help you to get a better picture of whether the dog cremation facility you have chosen is right for you. This process will also help you to make a more detailed written plan should someone help you with the end of life process.
Step 4: Consult With Your Vet
Once you have figured out how much does it cost to have a dog cremated in total, and have written down a full plan of action for your pet’s cremation process, it is important to talk to your local veterinarian about the choices you're making for your canine. This will let your vet know ahead of time what your plan is.
Discussing this with your vet will also help them to collaborate with the dog crematorium you have chosen if your pet undergoes euthanasia. These dog cremation euthanasia services are often called “end of life service” and you can pick them separately, or alongside the whole cremation procedure. Your vet will give you more details on this.
With all the above in mind, it's best to make a full copy of your plan of action – including the pet crematorium of your choice, the specific type of cremation you picked, how much is dog cremation going to cost you in total and any other details – and show this all to your veterinarian so that they can keep it in your personal client file, and have it ready.
When consulting your vet about cremating a dog, ask them if there is anything you have neglected in your plan or if there is something else that they would recommend covering.
There are two common questions that tend to come up at this time:
- “How do I know that the ashes I get back will be that of my pet?”
- “What do I do if my dog dies at home of natural causes?”
This is something that's on every pet owners mind, so vets usually have answers to these types of questions. But in case you're wondering, here's what it is.
“How do I know that the ashes I get back will be that of my pet?”
Probably the most frequently asked question of vets when it comes to the dog cremation process is about the integrity of the ashes that are returned. This is a question that people are often afraid to ask of the crematoriums, so they consult their vet instead.
The answer isn't the one you that you wish to hear, unfortunately: there really is no way to be sure that the ashes that you get back are those of your pet.
The best way to be as sure as possible, however, is to select a well reviewed, reputable and highly rated pet crematorium service that has a great reputation to maintain. If your veterinarian and other local veterinarians are using a particular service, it is usually safe to say that they are a reputable facility and the process is legit.
“What do I do if my dog dies at home naturally?”
This is a major concern for many pet owners, but it shouldn’t be. According to statistics, only around 10% of dogs pass away naturally at home. However, if this does happen, you'll still want to know what you should do and who you should call.
So if you discover that your dog has passed away during your vet’s business hours, you can choose to take him to the vet’s office where they can follow your arrangement plan to a letter. Your vet will also be able to hold your dog's remains until they can be picked up by the pet crematorium you chose.
If you discover that your canine has passed away outside of your vet’s business hours, you can take him to a local emergency vet clinic. The process is identical, and they can also hold your pet’s remains until those can be picked up by your chosen cremation services.
A third option in this circumstance is to call an in-home pet euthanization service – “End of Life Services” – to pick up your dog’s remains and take them to your chosen crematorium.
And finally, the fourth option you have in this situation is to have the dog crematorium pick up your pet’s remains directly from you, but only if this is a service that they offer.
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You've put together a solid action plan, you know how much to cremate a dog costs and all additional fees, you've consulted with your vet and you're ready. So when the time comes to carry out your dog’s cremation plan, keep a copy of that plan on hand.
Your vet should already have a same copy in your personal file, so if you are taking your pet to the vet’s office for euthanization or for dropping off their remains, remind them that they have your plan with all the details on dog cremation services and so on.
This will take the pressure off you to remember your plan or think the process through during a very emotional time. If you are having your dog euthanized, remind the vet receptionist of your plan before the procedure and pay ahead of time for their services.
If you have your pet picked up from your home, provide a copy of your requests to the individual picking up your dog. Understanding how much to cremate a dog is important, but it will be the last thing you're thinking about when the time actually comes.
The payment policy for pet crematoriums will vary by location, but it is strongly encouraged that you pay for your dog's cremation services ahead of time. This will avoid any additional stress during this or later tough times. If you do not pay ahead of time for pet cremation, make sure that you are familiar with their payment process.
A Case for Considering Cremation of Your Dog
While some people choose dog burial so that they can keep their pet’s remains in their backyard per tradition, this is not legal everywhere. Local laws can prevent pet burial in specific zoning areas.
When this is the case, you can choose to bury your dog at a pet crematory, but know that the dog burial process is far more expensive than cremation. Not only do you have to pay for a pet casket for your pooch and for the whole burial service, but you must also pay for a plot of land in which to bury your dog.
If you've been blown away by how much to cremate a dog costs, you're probably going to be shocked by some of these prices on how much it costs to bury a dog.
For example, the average cost of a burial plan for a pet in the US is between $1,500 and $2,000 (on the lower end). This compares to a cost of under $700 for an extra large dog’s cremation, a witnessing fee, a transfer fee, and a $300 urn with some change to spare!
Cremating a dog means that you can spread your dog’s ashes in a place that he loved, or you can keep him close by displaying his urn in your home. Obviously (barring taxidermy) this cannot be done with non-cremation situations!
The cost of how much to cremate a dog may be outweighed by the benefits that it will offer, but it's whatever makes you feel better and remember your loyal canine companion for many years to come.