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Is it illegal to cremate your own pet?

Updated: Feb 1

It’s not something any pet owner wants to think about. But when our four-legged family member passes, we need to think about what to do with the remains. Many pet owners share the feeling that cremation is the most respectful, sanitary and space-saving method to dispose of a deceased pet. Additionally, keeping your much-loved pet’s ashes allows you to memorialize them the way you choose; in a keepsake or even a piece of jewelry. This is probably why more and more pet owners are asking if it’s illegal to cremate their own pet. Here’s some information that will help you on your journey of laying your pet to rest.


Is it illegal to cremate your own pet?

There are no laws against it, making it completely legal to cremate your own pet. For that matter, a lot of pet owners are choosing to cremate their pets themselves. Their reasoning is that their pet never has to leave home and the they can be with their pets as their pets are returned to the stardust they were made from. Also, some feel it can be quite an intimate and moving experience.




What does it cost to have your veterinarian or a crematorium cremate your pet?

The cost to have your veterinarian or a cremation service cremate you pet will differ by geographic area – from $50 to thousands of dollars. The price is basically determined by whether your pet is a dog https://www.petashes.com/post/how-much-does-it-cost-to-cremate-a-dog , cat https://www.petashes.com/post/how-much-does-it-cost-to-cremate-a-cat-or-kitten , or a larger animal like a horse https://www.petashes.com/post/what-is-the-typical-cost-to-cremate-a-horse .


The cost associated with cremating your pet is another reason many pet owners are asking if there is a way to do it themselves.

How do I prepare the deceased pet?

The goal is to keep the remains from decomposing too quickly. Decay will start almost immediately after death, and move rapidly within the first 24 -48 hours. The best thing to do after your pet dies is to put it in a sealed plastic bag. For larger animals you can use a garbage bag. Then you will need to put the bag into the freezer to stop the decay process until you are prepared to cremate. For larger pets, a big chest freezer is the best. However, for hygiene’s sake, empty the freezer first. If you don’t have a large enough freezer, you can use dry ice or an air conditioner.


How do you cremate a pet at home?

Cremating our pet at home requires that you learn the proper steps, have the necessary equipment and suitable location. You don’t want to cause damage to yourself, or your or your neighbors’ property. And you need to know that a simple campfire will not cremate your pet.


Most people don’t realize that burning an animal’s body down to ash requires a very high temperature - around 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason for this extreme heat is that bones are actually made of different organic material and require a much higher heat to burn than the rest of the remains. To get your fire to the necessary temperature you’ll need a chemical compound that will burn very hot. One of the most readily available chemicals of this type is potassium nitrate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_nitrate . It’s commonly found in stump remover, used for removing tree stumps. It can be found at most hardware stores.


You’ll also need a considerable open space where you can safely manage a large open flame. If you don’t have this, unfortunately, you should not cremate your pet at home. It goes without saying that if you live in a densely populated area, like a condo complex, you could get a hefty fine, and the fire department called on you. If you’re not sure whether your backyard is suitable, you can call your local fire department and they should be able to come and look at your spot to determine if it will be appropriate. For general guidelines you can check out the United States Environmental Protection Agency https://www.epa.gov/burnwise/backyard-recreational-fires .


What is the process to cremate your pet at home?

Here are the materials and tools you’ll need to gather, or purchase:

  • A barrel or other metal container large enough to fit your pet

  • Charcoal, sufficient to keep the fire burning long enough (See estimated timing below)

  • Enough stump remover (potassium nitrate) to generously cover your pet

  • A generous stock of burnable wood and kindling

  • Charcoal liter fluid

  • Sledgehammer or heavy tool to crush remaining bones that do not turn to ash

  • A metal pan to collect the ashes


Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:

  1. When you have everything you need, you are ready to set up your metal container in a safe open area

  2. Place the metal pan in the mental container and then place your pet on top of the metal pan.

  3. Place the wood and charcoal around your pet

  4. Place the burnable wood on top of your pet

  5. Cover everything generously with stump remover and a bit of charcoal liter fluid

  6. Stand as far back as you can, and set the contents on fire

  7. Keep the fire going as long as you need to, to get your pet to completely reduce to ashes (See estimated timing below). You’ll most likely need to continue to add more wood and stump remover


Chances are, you will find some bone fragments remaining in the pan. These were the thicker bones. They’ll need to be crushed before they cool fully. Then once the fire has completely cooled, you can remove the bottom pan. In the pan are the cremated remains of your pet.


How long will it take to cremate your pet?

The answer to this question depends on the size of your pet and the heat you are able to generate and maintain in your metal container. Based on industry standards, here is the estimated timing. However, add a little extra time to account for possible lower temperatures, and your nonprofessional setup.


Pet Cremation Time

Small dog 30-45 minutes

Large dog 1-3 hours

Cat 30-45 minutes

Rodent 15-30 minutes

Reptile 30-45 minutes

Horse 6-10 hours


What should you do with your pet’s ashes?

Once you have your dear pet’s ashes, whatever you choose to do with them, that puts you more at peace, is fitting. Some owners bury their pet’s ashes in the back yard, or scatter them in their pet’s favorite outdoor place. Another great option is to get the ashes made into a beautiful piece of jewelry or keepsake https://www.petashes.com/post/trends-in-pet-ash-jewelry-and-keepsakes that will keep your pet always close to you.


Should you cremate your own pet?

We know that cremating your pet yourself is legal. We also know the materials and tools needed, and how it should be done safely. But the sizable question is; should you, indeed, do it yourself? Our pets are our companions, friends and often family. For that reason, you need to consider the emotional consequences of doing your pet’s cremation yourself. If you have a sensitive constitution, or don’t want your last memory of your pet to be its cremation, you might want to leave the job to a professional cremation service. So, be sure to consider the emotional, as well as financial, costs when it comes to deciding whether or not to cremate your own pet.


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