Dogs and cats are family and integral parts of our lives. It’s devastating when they pass away and giving them a proper goodbye honors their memory and begins the path to healing and acceptance. One way to do this is by having a memorial service or funeral for your dog or cat. Here are some steps to consider when planning a funeral.

Choose a Location

Decide if you want to lay your fur baby to rest during the funeral for your dog or cat. Depending on what you choose, your options for a location can include:

  • At home
  • Your backyard
  • A park
  • A pet cemetery
  • A crematorium
  • An event space

Make sure you have enough room for everyone you will want to invite. Be sure to check the rules provided by the venue if you’ll be inviting furry friends.

Decide on the Type of Service

You can honor your furry family member in many ways. Perhaps you want a small intimate gathering or maybe something more public? Include people who interacted with your dog or cat regularly, such as pet sitters, groomers, neighbors, or dog-park friends. Additionally, you can choose the tone of the service. Do you prefer a somber occasion or a livelier celebration of life?

Invite Guests to the Funeral for Your Dog or Cat

You can send invitations by text, email, or traditional mail. Creating an event on social media allows invitees to interact before the event and gather all the details. Don’t forget to include the date, time, location, appropriate attire, and whether four-legged guests are invited. If you would like to encourage donations to a preferred shelter or charity, then include the best method of giving along with your appreciation.

Choose a Casket or Urn

Your choices will depend on whether you plan to bury or cremate your dog or cat.

Burial: Choose a biodegradable casket that won’t attract attention from wildlife and will prevent groundwater contamination. Make sure you follow all local laws and regulations and that the grave is deep enough that you can bury the casket with lots of earth. You can also include items that hold special meaning for your pet, such as toys or blankets.

Cremation: You can keep their ashes in an urn, or you may wish to scatter them as part of the ceremony. Scatter tubes are available to make this process easier. And you don’t have to scatter all the ashes in one location. Some families find comfort in releasing ashes in multiple meaningful places or at different times to mark special anniversaries.

Prepare Eulogies and Readings

Eulogies and readings are the focus of most funerals or memorial services. However, they don’t need to be ornate. Simply sharing your heartfelt words will honor the departed. You may also want to invite family members or close friends to prepare a few words, share poems, or read quotations. Additionally, you can make time for guests who may wish to share their own memories.

Prepare the Space

You can decorate the space with flowers, candles, photos, or other items. A memorial board with pictures is a great place where guests can write a message or memory. Music can help set the tone for the service and evoke the desired mood. Food can provide comfort to grieving people. Don’t forget pet treats if animals will be attending.

Lay the Pet to Rest

For a more traditional funeral for your dog or cat, begin the service by welcoming guests and thanking them for attending before moving on to eulogies, readings, and recitations. Next, you can scatter the ashes or inter the body. Afterward, you may wish to have a moment of silence, prayer, blessing, or other ritual before concluding the ceremony.

Moving Forward

Having a funeral for your dog or cat is a powerful way to honor their memory and say goodbye. Be ready to feel a range of emotions after the ceremony: you may experience closure, relief, and waves of loss simultaneously. Remember that it’s okay to grieve and that everyone mourns in their own way. Take the time you need to heal and remember the love and joy your canine or feline friend brought into your life.

AUTHOR PROFILE

Dr. Bethany Hsia is a veterinarian and co-founder of CodaPet.