Practical decision making at a traumatic time

Losing a friend is a devastating experience to go through, even without the additional burden of having to make practical decisions at a time when you are not functioning normally. Choosing whether to bury or cremate your faithful friend is one of the biggest decisions you will be asked to make at this difficult time, and it is always best to think about the options in advance if at all possible. In this way you can avoid the risk of future regrets, resulting from decisions necessarily taken in haste whilst in a fragile emotional state.

There are two main options, burial and cremation – let’s take a look at some practical considerations concerning both.


  • UK Law allows pets to be buried either at your own property or at a licensed pet cemetery
  •  It’s wise to ensure that there is at least a metre of soil above the grave, in order to prevent wild animals disturbing your pet’s final resting place
  •  Burying your pet at home brings some comfort in that your pet is close by, in a garden that he or she loved. However, if you subsequently move house it can be distressing to leave your pet behind. If you have young children they might find this particularly upsetting.
  •  Planting a tree gives a permanent memory of your pet, but again this can be difficult to leave behind if you ever move. Perhaps you might like to consider dedicating a potted shrub to your pet’s memory – this can be taken with you when you move
  • If you choose a pet cemetery as your pet’s final resting place, we recommend that you think about:
    o Arrangements for marking the grave – are you able to choose and place your own marker?
    o Opening times – will you be able to visit your pet easily (especially important if you have to travel far)
    o Annual maintenance fees – what is the ongoing charge for upkeep of the plot, and what would happen to your pet’s grave if the business ceased to operate?
  •  Details of pet burial grounds near you can be found quickly and easily by searching online, and we have also compiled a list of pet cemeteries and crematoria on the main website.


  • Consider whether you would like an individual cremation for your pet, or perhaps a shared cremation could be an option. Not everyone wants to have their pet’s ashes returned, and in this case a shared cremation can be a practical consideration.
  • If it is important to you that your pet receives an individual cremation (so that you can be certain that the ashes returned to you are those of your beloved animal) then we recommend you ensure that the crematorium you choose is a member of the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria , where this is standard practice.
  • Talk to the crematorium staff about your wishes – it may be possible to view the process, if you would like to do so
  • A wide choice of dedicated urns and caskets are available, or you may wish to provide your own container for your pet’s ashes – your chosen crematorium can advise you on the specific requirements.

Of course, this is an upsetting subject and so you might also find it useful to speak with family and friends about their experiences and choices – they will undoubtedly have a wealth of advice they would be only too happy to share. And likewise do of course speak to your veterinary practice about this.

Until next time, very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Please note: The Ralph Site is not affiliated with the third-party organisations in any of the links shared here, and the views, ideas and suggestions expressed in this and other blogs are simply shared with the intention of helping you, our friends, take care of the special animals in your lives.

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