Euthanasia is the process of humanely ending an animal’s life.5 The process of euthanasia is typically done in three steps: relief of pain, minimizing fear as they go to sleep, and then a painless death. Your vet, hospice, or in-home caretaker usually offer this service.
After the procedure, your care team will offer you options to preserve your pet’s remains. Take your time to plan how you want to memorialize your beloved pet if you have not done so already.
Here are the basic decisions you’ll need to make.
There are two popular options offered for a deceased pet’s body: cremation or burial. The cost for the cremation of a cat or a dog varies based on how you choose to cremate them. Pet crematoriums may offer the following options:
- Private: This can be the most expensive option where your pet is the only animal cremated. You’re usually allowed to be present and you can place an item with them, like a blanket or favorite toy.
- Individual or divided: This option ensures your pet’s ashes are kept away from other pets’ remains.
- Communal: This can be the least expensive option. Your pet is cremated with other animals and their ashes aren’t returned to you.
On the other hand, a pet parent can choose to bury their pet on your private property or at a family plot in a cemetery. Check your local laws to ensure that it’s legal to bury animal remains on your property.³ Otherwise, you can prepare a plot for your lost friend.
There are other fees associated with cremated remains and burials, so ask plenty of questions before making your decision. The costs can add up quickly but some MetLife pet insurance policies may cover some of the costs of memorializing your pet.4
If your pet passed away naturally at home, you may have to act quickly. Call your local animal control to ask if they can help. If they can’t, your vet may be able to offer guidance.
Here’s what you need to do while you’re waiting for help:³
- Call a friend or family member to emotionally support you. They may be able to help you lift or roll the animal if they are too heavy.
- Get a large tarp or plastic bag to place under your pet. This will protect the floor from any bodily fluids.
- Wrap your pet in a blanket. Try to arrange their body in a way that looks natural to make things less distressing on you or any children around.
Be prepared to transport your pet yourself if no one can come to help. Keep your support system close.
There are several ways to remember your pet. If you choose to cremate them, you could pick an urn that matches your family's taste, traditions, and your pet’s temperament. Some pet parents choose to bury their pet’s ashes and plant a tree in their yard.
Burying your pet may require a bit more work, like choosing a headstone and location. There are companies that specialize in creating headstones for pets that include images of your pet or carvings. You may opt not to do that and build something unique. Regardless, pick something that will help you remember your old friend.
You can also hold a small ceremony as a loving send off for your beloved pet. There are some cultural traditions that may be important to you and it’s okay to mourn and celebrate the life of your pet the same way you would for a human. Invite your friends and family to hold a funeral if that’s what you need to grieve properly.
It’s difficult to figure out how to cope with the loss of a pet. You’ll miss them when they don’t greet you at the door or cuddle up next to you. Other pets in your home may have a hard time, too. Often, they become depressed when their “pack” member is suddenly gone. Given time and a bit of self-care, everyone can move forward.
You may want to donate any toys, beds, and other supplies that belonged to your pet to help benefit the life of another person’s furry friend. That said, you might want to keep significant items, like their collar or their favorite toy, in a safe space.
Grief counseling may be a good option if you find the grieving process difficult or even traumatic.
The loss of a pet is a life changing event, but there are options available to make the transition smoother. Review your choices for end-of-life care, pet euthanasia, and memorial services, including how much they cost.
A pet insurance policy can help make these choices easier financially. Get started today with a free quote from MetLife Pet Insurance, winner of the “Pet Insurance of the Year” Award in the 2023 Pet Independent Innovation Awards Program.6