How to Choose a Pet Crematorium

It can be difficult to work out who is genuine and who isn’t. Many companies have now “glossed up” their websites and literature so you have to look even closer to see if the pet crematorium will meet your expectations. Some companies employ all kinds of systems to cut costs and increase profits.

That said, there are some genuine pet crematoria out there, but only certain pet crematoriums ensure each process is clearly defined and described so that you receive the service you want for your pet. “Behind the scenes” needs to be as good as their literature suggests.

Individual Cremation:

How do I know my pet will be cremated in a chamber on its own and will I get the correct ashes?

These are common questions and are in the mind of everybody who has their pet cremated with a view to having the ashes returned. It is a natural reaction to be suspicious especially as everyone seems to have heard some dreadful story about the process. The question is particularly relevant as the actual cremation part of the process is completely unregulated.

When the term individual cremation, or even just cremation, is used then it implies a process similar to a human cremation – one body at a time. That is what you have a right to expect. All members of the APPCC (Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria) carry out individual cremations this way.

What is considered good practice for an individual cremation?

There are divided opinions on this (depending on the pet crematorium you ask and the methods they employ!). I have found the following to be best practice for individual cremation to ensure that you receive as much of your pet’s ashes as is humanly possible with the minimum of risk:

Your pet is placed into a clean cremation chamber, normally with a solid/tiled hearth. Paperwork accompanies your pet at all times and is attached to the cremator to identify your pet. A cremation diary / log book is used to record the time of the cremation along with your pet’s details. The cremation is carried out until only sterile skeletal remains are left. Once they have cooled to an acceptable temperature they are drawn into a tray or container using a hearth rake and all traces removed from the hearth by careful brushing. All remains must be removed before the next cremation starts. There must be no more than one pet in the chamber and the hearth must always be carefully checked as remains may be scattered across the hearth due to cremation being a volatile process.

The cremated remains (bone fragments) are then processed through a cremulator which reduces them to a fine ash suitable for return or scattering. The cremulator must also be carefully cleaned each time. The ashes are then placed into a temporary container / plastic bag along with the paperwork before being packaged into the casket or urn that has been chosen. A certificate of individual cremation can be placed into the casket with the ashes to confirm their identity – this is an optional extra and does not replace the paperwork used to identify the pet at each stage of the process.

Make sure you know the whole picture

As well as getting the cremation service you want you may also have to carry out your own research if you would like your pet collected and handled with a certain degree of respect as storage, handling and transport methods also vary considerably.

You must therefore ask your vet or the pet crematorium specific questions such as:

  • How will my pet be stored?
  • How will they be identified?
  • How and when will they be collected and transported?
  • Where will my pet be taken?
  • Will my pet be the only pet in the chamber during the cremation process?
  • Will the pet crematorium certify that my pet was on its own during the cremation and that I have received only their ashes?

How long will it take before my pet is cremated and their ashes are returned?

Because most vets contract to a company that visits them only once or possibly twice a week it is likely that it will take 1 – 2 weeks to receive your pet’s ashes. Most large pet crematoriums will deliver ashes back when they next carry out a collection from your vet (normally a week later) and some companies either send them direct to you via Special Delivery or return them in person.

The time taken to cremate your pet and return their ashes is often much faster at smaller pet crematorium as they offer a responsive collection service and go for just your pet.  This means you can collect their ashes within 24 – 48 hours of their cremation.  Some small pet crematoria even offer same day and attended pet cremation services enabling you to have your pet’s ashes back later the same day.  Make sure you ask your vet or pet crematorium how pets are stored, handled, collected and cremated to give you a better idea of the service being offered and don’t be frightened to look for an alternative service if what is being offered doesn’t match your expectations.

How much will my vet stand to make from arranging the cremation for me?

Some vets see arranging the cremation for you as an opportunity to make an easy profit. If you ask and find your vet is making £100 – £150 from “arranging” your pet’s cremation then you may wish to consider whether they are contracted to that particular pet crematorium to offer you a respectful service for your pet or because they have given the vet the best opportunity to make a large profit from you?

A proportion of vets do not seek to make any profit from your pet’s death whatsoever and may ask you to pay the crematorium directly. Others are transparent and itemise a separate “arrangement” fee on your bill for the time spent organising your pet’s cremation.


Once you have found out the step by step procedures of the pet cremation service being offered to you don’t be afraid to look around and find a pet crematorium that does meet your requirements if you do not like what you hear (or don’t hear).

At the end of the day it is about getting the service you want and are paying for.

To find out more about pet cremation visit the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria

You may also be interested in:

Pet Cremation Answers
Pet Cremation Terminology