Aftercare: You options when a pet has died

Posted on May 22, 2014 by Lynn Henderson

Aftercare Options: Caring for a deceased pet

When speaking to new clients about our services, they are often concerned about what to do with their pet after he or she passes. Whether a pet dies naturally at home or is humanely euthanized by a veterinarian, the family must make a decision about how to care for the body. We refer to this period in end-of-life care as “aftercare”. 

The first decision a family must make is whether or not they wish to care for their pet themselves. This means that after their pet has passed, they will keep the body at home for burial. Each municipality has its own laws with respect to whether or not you are allowed to bury a pet in your yard. The easiest way to think about it if you are unsure where to seek out this information, is that most urban areas preclude burial in an owner’s yard, whereas most rural/agricultural areas allow ‘disposing of livestock’  on your property in this way. As we work in several municipalities, I tend to leave the legalities of a given location to the individual family to work out. 

If a family is unable, or chooses not to care for their pet at home, we offer cremation services.  We will respectfully transport deceased pets to our office and prepare them for crematory pick-up. We utilize the same cremation services as most of the veterinary facilities in the Greater Toronto Area, and have personally toured these facilities to ensure respectful care. When a family chooses to have their pet cremated through our practice, they have three options:

1)Communal Cremation:  

In communal pet cremation, multiple pets are placed in the crematory retort simultaneously. The retort is quite large, and this option is the most economical for both the pet owner and the cremation provider. With communal cremation, owners do not have the option of having their pets ‘ashes’ returned to them. Our crematory provider will bury the communal cremains at one of their pet cemetery locations in Ontario after cremation. 

2)Private Partitioned Cremation

A Private Partitioned Cremation involves more than one animal within the crematory retort at one time, but each is ‘partitioned’ in his or her own area of the retort. Pets are separated by metal dividers such that they are in their own smaller compartment within the large crematory retort. This option allows owners to have their pet’s ‘ashes’ returned to them in a cost-effective fashion in comparison to having an individual cremation. 

3)Individual Cremation:

In and Individual cremation, a single pet is placed within the crematory unit at a time. The cremation process is performed over several hours and owner’s are able to place their pet within the unit and remove the “ashes” afterwards should they wish.  This is the most costly option for families, but allows a private experience they can be a part of should they wish. Often families will choose Individual cremation in association with a viewing/visitation to the crematorium. This allows them to be a part of the procedure from beginning to end and say a private good-bye to their companion animal. If families wish for their pet to be cared for in this way, but cannot witness the process themselves, our practice provides the option of viewing/witnessing the cremation on behalf of our clients, if requested. 

In both the private-partitioned and individual cremation options, ‘ashes’ are returned to owners in either a ceramic or cedar urn . 

Cremation urns

Cremation urns


Pet owners may visit our Crematory Provider’s website at: Gateway Pet Memorial to see their full catalogue of products. Specialty urns, cremation jewelry and garden art are all available as possible ways to memorialize the special animals in our lives. 

Our service is focused on allowing pet owners to have the personalized end-of-life experience they desire in order to respect and lovingly remember their companion animal. There is no right or wrong way to say good-bye – there is no time limit, and each choice throughout the process is extremely personal. We discuss all the options with our clients and are always available to answer any questions pet parents have about their pets hospice and end-of-life care options. 

Useful Links:

Gateway Pet Memorial 

Gateway Memorial Products


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