How Pet Cremation Works

One of the decisions pet owners often face is handling their pet’s remains. While cremation is a common choice, it can sometimes be confusing which type to choose because of their differences in process and cost.

I’ve been leading a team of pet cremation specialists since 2007. Sharing my first-hand experience, I’m going to explain how pet cremation works to help you decide if you should pursue this and which type better suits your situation and budget.

How Pet Cremation Works

Pet cremation works by putting the pet’s body in a small enclosed space and using fire or water to reduce the remains to bone which are then turned to ash. Cremation options such as individually separated, communal cremation, and Aquamation use various methods to break down the bodies. 

One of the aftercare options you may consider for your pet is cremation. In this brief explanation, I will provide an overview of how cremation works to guide you during this difficult time.

Pet Cremation Process: A Simplified Guide for Pet Owners

Aftercare is a personal choice and we have a variety of options, each customizable, to meet your individual needs. I empathize with pet owners and strive to provide comforting and professional services. I hope this information on the process of pet cremation and aftercare services will help you make the best choice. 

Type of Cremation Preparation Heating Process Duration               Processing

         Remains

Individual, Separated Fire Cremation A divider separates the bodies in the chamber 1400 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit One to two hours Urn options, memorial items
Communal Fire Cremation Bodies of pets are placed together in the chamber 1400 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit At least two hours Scattering in
the sea
Individual Water Cremation Pet is placed in its own chamber within a water-tight vessel Alkaline hydrolysis 200 degrees Fahrenheit At least 20 hours Urn options, memorial items
Communal Water Cremation A pet’s body is place with others inside the water cremation machine Alkaline hydrolysis 200 degrees Fahrenheit At least 20 hours Scattering in the sea

A woman sitting on the floor with her white dog beside her

Water Cremation or Aquamation Process
Paws Into Grace provides Aquamation at our facility in Escondido.

Water cremation or aquamation is environmentally friendly, and the most gentle method for caring for pet’s remains.

Individual Aquamation process: 

  • Preparation: Before the process begins, we carefully prepare the deceased pet’s body through proper cleaning, as well as preparing the aquamation machine. At this time we collect any memorial items like the Clay Paw Print & Fur Clipping that comes standard with our Individual Cremation option.Confirming the metal ID tag, and updating in our tracking system
  • Cremation chamber: We will place your beloved pet’s body in their own stainless steel chamber. This chamber has solid steel on all 4 sides and perforated on top and bottom to let water through. As your pet is placed into the machine, we log their placement within the machine immediately, verify the assigned tag number, and update our tracking system.
  • Cremation process: Water cremation uses a combination of temperature, water flow, and alkalinity to break down the organic remains gently. This process mimics and accelerates the natural decomposition that would occur with burial. 
  • Processing the remains: We will collect and dry the cremated remains, and place them in our dry room. After the remains reach the desired consistency, they will be processed into ash. We verify the tag number, and update our tracking system when your pet is taken to the dry room, as well as after processing.
  • Urning & Quality Check: After the cremains have been processed, your beloved pet will then be placed into the urn of choice. Our office personnel then goes through a quality check to make sure wishes were done.

Communal Aquamation Process:

  • Preparation: Before the cremation, we ensure each pet is cleaned and placed in the chamber with other pets. 
  • Cremation chamber: In this method, multiple pets are cremated together in 1 open chamber that is solid steel on all 4 sides, and perforated on top and bottom to let the water through.
  • Cremation process: Water cremation uses a combination of temperature, water flow, and alkalinity to break down the organic remains gently. This process mimics and accelerates the natural decomposition that would occur with burial. 
  • Processing the remains: After the cremation process, our partner, Oceans of Love,  will scatter the communal ashes in the ocean. The remains of multiple pets are mixed. Thus, note that you cannot receive your pet’s individual ashes in this option.
    Oceans of Love sends us coordinates, and pictures to update on our website. 

 

Our “Going Home” Urn. Available in multiple sizes.

Fire Cremation:

(Paws Into Grace does not perform in-house Fire cremation services)

Paws into Grace partners with a San Diego-based, trusted facility that we have worked with for a number of years. All memorial items are completed in our Escondido office before your pet is transferred for fire cremation. Upon completion of fire cremation, our team will package and complete quality control procedures to ensure you are only receiving your pet back. 

Individual cremation is a respectful way to honor your pet’s memory. This process ensures their ashes remain distinct and undisturbed during the process. At Paws into Grace, we use a quality control & tracking system where each pet is assigned a unique metal tag that stays with them throughout the entire cremation process. The tag is verified by our staff at least five times, at every stage of the cremation process. In addition to the metal ID tags, we also track pets using cremation tracking software.

  • Preparation: We need to prepare the deceased pet, and retrieve any memorial items wanted. After the pet has been gently cleaned, the tag is verified, and logged in our tracking software.
  • Cremation chamber: Next,we transfer your pet to our partner after we verify all memorial items have been honored. They will then place the tray with your pet’s body into a cremation chamber, often called a retort for pre-heating.
  • Cremation process: At 1400 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, this temperature will reduce the pet’s body into bone fragments. The entire cremation process takes about one to two hours for small animals, although it may take longer for larger pets.
  • Processing the remains: Once the cremation process is complete, Our partners will wait until the chamber cools off, and then process the bones into a fine, sand-like consistency called cremains. Your pet is then returned to our facility, and the metal tag is verified & logged in our cremation tracking software.
  • Urning & Quality Check: After the cremains have been processed and returned, your beloved pet will then be placed into the urn of choice. Our office personnel then goes through a quality check to make sure wishes were completed. 

Communal pet cremation is a more affordable option compared to private cremation. With this method, owners won’t get the ashes back.

  • Preparation: We need to prepare the deceased pet, and retrieve any memorial items wanted. After the pet has been gently cleaned, the tag is verified, and logged in our tracking software.
  • Cremation chamber: Next,we transfer your pet to our partner after we verify all memorial items have been honored. They will then place the tray with your pet’s body into a cremation chamber, often called a retort for pre-heating.
  •  In this method, multiple pets are cremated together.
  • Cremation process: The actual cremation takes place in a specialized chamber designed for the high-heat incineration of multiple pets. The chamber’s temperature usually reaches between 1,400 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. 

    A custom globe, swirled with ashes from your beloved pet.

  • Processing the remains: After the cremation process, our partner, Oceans of Love,  will scatter the communal ashes in the ocean. The remains of multiple pets are mixed. Thus, note that you cannot receive your pet’s individual ashes in this option.
    Oceans of Love sends us coordinates, and pictures to update on our website..

 

Related Questions

What Happens to the Ashes of Cremated Pets?

After the cremation process, you can choose from various cremation urns and memorials to preserve and honor your pet’s memory. If you are not getting the ashes returned, they will be respectfully spread at sea. 

How Much Does Pet Cremation Cost?

Our communal cremation prices start at $175 and individual cremation costs around $275. However, the final prices may still depend on your pet’s weight. 

Is It Possible to Witness the Cremation of My Pet?

Yes, many cremation services for pets allow owners to be present during the cremation procedure. Although the main process at our facility takes place in an enclosed stainless steel chamber,  we offer a unique Private Viewing. Your pet will be decorated with flowers, and you are given extra time with your pet to say goodbyes, as well as retrieve the memorial items the same day. After the viewing portion of the private viewing is over, we then allow you to place your pet into the machine if you are comfortable. Otherwise we will place your pet into the machine and allow you to see your pet’s placement. When you are ready, we will put the lid on the cradle, shut the machine, and start the cremation process. The process takes about 18 hours in the machine inside the steel chamber. We then can discuss each step and answer any other questions you might have. We are here for you throughout the entire process. 

 

Conclusion

Aftercare is a personal choice, and we individualize each client’s experience with how they want to honor their pet. We assign each pet their own Metal ID Tag, use state to the art cremation tracking software, and follow strict protocols to ensure you are only receiving your pet back. Each pet is handled with the utmost respect and dignity.  Paws into Grace provides a careful and respectful cremation process that you can trust. 

Testimonials

I can't recommend them enough. I had to say goodbye to my 21 year old cat companion. I read the reviews here on Yelp and chose Paws Into Grace and they made an unbearable situation not worse - from the people on the phone to the amazing doctor who... read more

Renee C.

My absolute love Dante had heart failure three months ago. After having him on many medications to help him, his enthusiasm and appetite declined last couple of days. He was in pain and we decided to help him go to heaven rather than torturing him... read more

Diane C.

I wanted to thank you for sending Dr. Brown to euthanize our beloved Myleigh on March 4, 2021. She was compassionate and accommodating, she explained every step of the procedure, and gave us some alone time with Myleigh after she sedated her, but... read more

Terry A.

Renee C.

I can't recommend them enough. I had to say goodbye to my 21 year old cat companion. I read the reviews here on Yelp and chose Paws Into Grace and they made an unbearable situation not worse - from the people on the phone to the amazing doctor who came out to the house. She was so understanding and supportive. They were all so helpful, understanding and nice. My girl got to stay at home and say goodbye in the backyard (a hummingbird flew over and it seemed like a good sign too). So glad I didn't have to take her to a cold vet office.

Diane C.

My absolute love Dante had heart failure three months ago. After having him on many medications to help him, his enthusiasm and appetite declined last couple of days. He was in pain and we decided to help him go to heaven rather than torturing him with more medications which would make him even more miserable. I called and spoke to a very kind lady who was patient as I cried through making an appointment. We made an appointment for 1:30pm. Dr. Toni arrived. She was very kind, explained everything to us and gave us the time to be with our boy after the first shot. He wasn't relaxing enough so she gave him a second shot. We stayed with him throughout the entire process and I carried him to her car in the end. It was a very difficult decision but knowing that our boy is not in pain, gives us some peace. We are thankful to Dr. Toni for her kindness and compassion. They will arrange the cremation for us. Since we are in a pandemic, we had our masks on and said goodbye to our boy in our garden.

Terry A.

I wanted to thank you for sending Dr. Brown to euthanize our beloved Myleigh on March 4, 2021. She was compassionate and accommodating, she explained every step of the procedure, and gave us some alone time with Myleigh after she sedated her, but before she attached the IV. We were relieved that we made the decision to let her go to doggy heaven at home. It was a tranquil and serene passing for her, and it very much aids us in the grieving and healing process knowing that she passed away so peacefully. Based on the grace and compassion Dr. Brown demonstrated on one of the most awful days of our lives we would not hesitate to recommend Paws Into Grace for others facing this very painful time.
San Diego Orange County Cremation Office