What is Cremation?
During cremation, the pet's body is placed in a cremation chamber which reaches between 1400-1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The intense heat reduces organic matter to dust and dried bones, which is then processed to a sand-like powder. It generally takes an hour or two for most sizes of pets.
Types of Cremation
There are businesses that specialize in pet cremation, or your veterinarian can take care of the arrangements, however, the type of cremation that is provided can vary.
Many states have little or no regulations surrounding pet cremation, so some terminology may be different, or the same term may mean different things from facility to facility. Organizations like the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance are working toward creating common standards, but in the meantime, understanding what will actually happen to your pet with the services you purchase will require some diligence on your part.
Ask your provider to clarify what their services entail, to ensure you know what you're getting, and how your pet will be treated.
Private cremation means your pet is the only animal in the cremation unit. It may also be referred to as "alone" or "one-in-one-out."
When it's important to you that you receive all your pet's ashes, and no one else's, this is the cremation option to choose. Businesses that offer private cremation may pick up your pet for you, allow you to be present during the process, and answer any questions you may have. You might also request a special viewing or ceremony before the cremation, as another way to honor your pet.
Other terms for individual cremation are "separated," or "partitioned" cremation.
While it is more "individualized" than group cremation, in this method, multiple pets are placed in the cremation unit, separated by space or bricks, and your pet's ashes mixing with another pet's ashes is unavoidable. This means that while you will receive your pet's ashes back, there may be ashes from another pet with them, and some of their ashes may be sent home with another pet owner.
Group, or "communal," cremation means several pets are placed in the chamber and cremated at the same time. With group cremation, no ashes are returned to the owner.
When considering the method that's right for you, ask yourself:
How do I want my pet to be handled and cremated?
Do I want my pet's ashes returned to me?
What do you plan to do with the ashes?
If you've chosen to keep your pet's ashes, there are a number of options for holding or displaying them. You may wish to contain them in an urn as a keepsake, bury or scatter them, or use them to create special memorials.