How To Cremate A Pet At Home And Do It Right


I know you don’t want to think about it, but the loveable little fur-balls and/or those without fur, will eventually need to be laid to rest.

When it gets to this stage, after everyone that loved them has been able to say goodbye, it’s time to think about what to do with the remains.

Cremation is possibly the most sanitary and space-saving method to dispose of the deceased pet.

Not to mention the added benefit of being able to store them in your house if you want.

As with any veterinary service, cremation will cost a certain amount of money, so is there a way for you to do it yourself?

Using a large barrel and starting a fire containing your pet and adding flammable stump remover to generate the appropriate heat (1500 degrees F) will enable you to cremate most pets.Unless you have a large open space capable of containing a large open flame, you should not cremate your pet at home.

 If you want to know if cremation at home is the right thing to do, and want to learn how, keep reading.

Is it possible for me to cremate my pet at home?

Something many people may not realize about cremation is that burning any animal’s body down to only ash requires a very high temperature (around 1500 degrees Fahrenheit!).

This is because the bones will need this extra heat to burn versus the rest of the remains of the animal. Bones are made out of somewhat different organic material and need some extra treatment.

Even though you aren’t able to just have a campfire and cremate your pet, it is still possible to cremate your pet at home.

The way to do this is to find a chemical compound that, when it is ignited, will burn very hot and will get you the temperature you need.

Likely the easiest chemical of this nature to get a hold of would be potassium nitrate.

Potassium nitrate can be found in stump remover, for removing tree stumps, which you can buy at most hardware stores.

What animals can be cremated?

This might not be such an obvious answer as I’m sure that most of us have not had a lot of experience with cremating animals at this point.

However, since animals, like humans, are all made from generally the same materials, just about any animal you could have as a pet will be eligible for a cremation.

The only restriction that may come up with this issue would be the size of the animal.

If you are looking to cremate a horse or even a very large dog and you don’t have the space for a rather large fire, it may not be a good idea to attempt a cremation at home.

How long will it take to cremate your pet?

Of course this largely depends on the size of your pet and also the heat you are able to generate in your home-made crematorium.

Based on industry standards you can find the rough timing below. However, I would suggest you add some extra time to account for your less efficient setup.

PetCremation time
Small dog30-45 minutes
Large dog1 -3 hours
Cats30-45 minutes
Fish15- 30 minutes
Rodents15- 30 minutes
Reptiles30-45 minutes
Horse6 – 10 hours

If you have a reptile, please read my article on cremating turtles and other reptiles.

Perhaps you have a hamster or other small rodent? If so, you will find my full article on cremating these types of pets useful.

Is my home right for preforming a cremation?

In case it wasn’t obvious, no you should not try to cremate your pet inside your home!

You will need to have an outdoor space large enough to maintain a rather large open flame.

Certainly, you should not be doing this within a condo complex as you may get a hefty fine, and the fire department called on you.

So, I think this is really a pursuit for rural folk or ones with a sizeable backyard.

Ideally, you should have an open backyard with plenty of space to perform the procedure. Trees and bushes at least 20ft from the flames.

If you are in doubt of whether your backyard is suitable, you should consult your local fire department and they should be able to come and have a look at your spot to see if it will be safe to use.

Is it legal?

While it may be frowned upon among animal lovers, as it might not be the most gentle way to lay your pet to rest, it is completely legal to cremate your pet on your own.

And the thing is, it doesn’t have to be disrespectful at all. If you want to be with your pet as they are returned to the stardust they were made from, then this can be quite a moving experience.

The fact that there are no laws against it may indicate that it’s not a distasteful process at all.

Having said that, you will need to do it in a safe manner in order not to cause damage to you or your neighbors’ property.

How do I prepare the deceased pet?

Since pets often die unexpectedly and as you will need to prepare the necessary materials, it is a good idea to keep the remains from decomposing too quickly.

Decay, just like all living things, will start to set in almost immediately after death and certainly take hold rapidly within the first 24 -48 hours.

The best thing to do when keeping your animal after it dies, is to put it in a sealed plastic bag if you can get one big enough for your pet. If your animal is a bit too big you could use a garbage bag.

Then put it into a freezer to keep it from decaying until you are ready to proceed with cremation.

A big basement deep freeze is your best friend here. But just for hygiene’s sake, try to empty it out before placing a rather large animal in there.

There are other methods you can use form dry ice to using air conditioning, which I’ve discussed in another article here aimed at preserving humans. But the process is much the same.

What is the process of cremation?

After your pet has died, it is important to get the body frozen as soon as possible to avoid a tricky situation, with the onset of decomposition, as mentioned above. 

After that, it is important to make sure your area that you will be using meets the fire code for your city and neighborhood.

To make sure it is always best to check with your local fire department, but for some general guidelines, you can look at a site like the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Next, it is time to gather the materials you need. This will include:

  • A metal container or a barrel large enough to burn your animal in. (The inside of an old dryer is commonly used)
  • Charcoal, to keep your fire burning long enough.
  • A lot of potassium nitrate, depending on the size of your animal. Most commonly found in gunpowder but for these purposes, it is best to use stump remover. This will create the heat that you need.
  • A lot of burnable wood and kindling.
  • A metal pan for collecting the ashes
  • a sledgehammer or heavy tool to crush remaining bones

When you have all of your tools needed, you can then set up your metal container in an open SAFE area.

Place your deceased pet on top of the metal pan and place some wood and charcoal around it. Then proceed to put the burnable wood on top and around the animal.

Cover the entire fire generously with stump remover and a bit of charcoal liter fluid.

Once this is finished, you can then stand as far back as you can and set the contents on fire. Keep the fire going as long as you need to get your pet to completely reduce to ashes.

This may take a while and some additional of more wood and stump remover.

Be prepared to see some bone fragments remaining in the pan, often from the thicker bones. These will need to be crushed and should be done before they cool fully.

Then after the fire has cooled and you can remove the bottom pan, you should have the cremated remains of your pet.

Then you can store your pet’s ashes in whatever you wish to preserve the memory of the animal.

What should I do with ashes?

After you have collected your pet in an appropriate container, such as this urn which you can pick up on Amazon, you can always get creative.

It is common for people to keep their beloved pet’s ashes inside in a plant pot or perhaps in their backyard in a nice garden memorial, which are pretty affordable on Amazon too.

Perhaps even scattering the ashes somewhere the pet really enjoyed would be a nice gesture. Anything that will help you be more at peace with the death of the pet is suitable.

So should you really cremate your own pet?

So, as we’ve seen, cremating almost any size pet is both possible are legal throughout the United States. However, that still doesn’t mean you should do it, even if you have all the right tools and the right set up.

Remember this is your best friend, your companion for perhaps many years. If you have a sensitive constitution, you may not wish the last images of your pet being those of a cremation pyre.

So, seriously consider the emotional as well as the financial costs of doing this before you proceed.

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