If you’ve got a pet who is part of the family, this discussion can’t be avoided. As painful as it is, planning for the pet’s death is essential if you want to be prepared and cope the best way possible.
DO: Consider the Options While They’re Alive
No one wants to think about it, but planning ahead can save you from making rash decisions that you regret later in life. Even if your pet is in great health, it’s a good idea to have final wishes in mind.
DO: Consider the Wishes of Other Family Members
Dogs and cats can develop unique bonds with every family member. Though it’s best to leave little ones out of the discussion, be sure to broach the topic with the rest of the household before making a decision on cremation or burial.
DO: Research Local Burial Laws
In most areas, it is legal to bury a pet so long as you own the property. Likewise, cremation services are generally available nationwide, but there still may be different rules and regulations to consider. Clear up any doubts while making a plan.
DO: Acknowledge that Other Pets May Grieve
People aren’t the only ones who make up a family! Other animals in the household can feel depressed after a fellow pet passes. Be sure to give the surviving pets all the attention and support they need to adjust to life without their buddy.
DO: Allow Everyone to Grieve
Dealing with the passing of a pet is often an incredible learning experience for children – and the first time they think about death. Support the needs of everyone in the family, including yourself and little ones, and let them grieve how they’d like. Encourage kids to create their own shrine so they feel part of the process.
DO: Create Something Tangible for Children to Remember the Pet
Kids can also benefit from having a physical item to hold onto when grieving over the death of a pet. There are many keepsakes for ashes that are perfect for this – including jewelry and unique pet cremation urns in the shape of a dog or cat.
DON’T: Bury the Pet in a Shallow Grave
Though it’s usually legal to bury a pet in a backyard, it needs to be done right – especially if you live in a remote area where wildlife is abundant. Having at least 2-3 feet of packed soil above the pet will ensure that it doesn’t attract wildlife, and placing a potted plant or small shrub on top helps deter animals even more.
DON’T: Release Balloons or Lanterns – Unless They’re Biodegradable
Though it’s a nice thought, traditional balloons can create litter and harm local wildlife.
DON’T: Use Cardboard or Plastic Boxes as an Urn for Ashes
If choosing cremation, ceramic urns are best for memorializing the pet and protecting their ashes. Many artisan urns are specifically designed for pets, and some even have paw print designs or feature the profile of a dog or cat.
DON’T: Trivialize their Death Because the Pet Isn’t a Person
Pets are family, too. Don’t listen to people who tell you to ‘get over it’ or make you feel bad for having strong emotions over an animal’s passing.
DON’T: Compare the Pet’s Death with Others
At the same time, not every pet steals that special place within our hearts. Comparing the current loss to previous pets is not helpful. Embrace your present emotions and recognize that it’s okay to feel differently over time.
DON’T: Judge Yourself for Making the Final Call to Put a Pet Down
Deciding when to have an elderly pet put down is excruciating. Listen to your heart and recognize when the time is right – and don’t beat yourself up about it afterwards.
The takeaway? Be sensitive with yourself and others, and be sure to plan ahead so you can keep your pet’s memory alive.