Individual Pet Cremation – What Happens At A Pet Crematorium? The main question everyone asks about an individual pet cremation is “Will my pet be handled on its own and will I get the correct ashes returned?” It is a natural reaction to be suspicious as everyone seems to have heard some dreadful story about the process. The question is particularly relevant due to the fact that pet crematoriums are only licensed as waste plants and the actual cremation part of the process is totally unregulated.
In the first instance, when the term individual cremation, or even just cremation, is used then it implies a process similar to a human cremation – one body at a time. That is what you have a right to expect. The only group in the UK setting genuine standards for pet cremation is The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries & Crematoria (APPCC) and all their members perform individual cremations in this manner. If the pet crematorium you use is not a member you should put some questions to them about their methods of operation. Be advised that you still have to trust the pet crematorium to carry out those methods of operation correctly. In the final instance, you must be receiving the service you mean to get and are paying for.
The description that follows outlines the correct method for carrying out an individual cremation. Your pet is carefully placed into a clean cremation chamber, normally with a solid hearth. A label is put on to the cremator with details of your pet and the start time of the cremation is noted in a diary or on some other device. The label stays with your pet’s remains right the way through the system. The cremation is carried out until only sterile bone fragments remain. When they are cooled to the right temperature they are drawn into a tray and all traces removed from the hearth by careful brushing. All remains need to be taken out before starting another cremation. There will be some tiny pieces of the hearth with the ashes but this is inevitable if all your pet’s ashes are to be recovered. The pet may be cremated on a tray as this gives some protection to the hearth from fluids being absorbed into the brickwork. Nevertheless, there must only be the one pet in the chamber and the hearth always must be checked on completion for any remains that may have fallen out. Cremation can be quite an explosive process and the remains may be scattered across the hearth.
The remains taken from the cremator consist of fragments of bone. These are processed through a cremulator which reduces them to fine ash suitable for packing into a container or for scattering over a memorial area or favourite walk. The cremulator must be carefully cleaned each time. The ashes are then packed into whichever casket or urn has been chosen. The original label stays with the remains all the time and is meticulously checked against the original cremation request.
Individual Pet Cremation
Individual pet cremation is a phrase that is commonly used within the pet loss industry but it is a term that is largely corrupted. Many so-called pet crematoria will try to bypass the term individual cremation by using other descriptions such as “return of ashes service”, “cremation on numbered trays” or even “special” or “private” cremation. If you see this you should suspect that the pets are being cremated together. There may be some kind of separation but due to the explosive nature of cremation, nobody could guarantee the remains would not be mixed. Unfortunately, even if a cremation is called individual it may still be performed in this way. If clients are happy with a system like this then all well and good but many people receive this type of service when they are expecting their pets to be individually cremated. That is wrong.
In general, veterinary staff have very little understanding of the correct methods to be used for the cremation of pets despite regularly selling the services to their clients. The error they make is to believe all pet crematoriums are the same. There is a website targetting veterinary professionals that is run by The APPCC. The website gives detailed information on the procedures for a pet cremation as well as information about legislation concerning pet crematoriums and the treatment of deceased pets. In particular, it highlights a Pet Cremation Charter that correctly describes the cremation service to the pet owner without any misunderstanding. Until this Charter is adopted throughout the veterinary world pet owners should be wary about the cremation services they choose.
Article by Stephen Mayles. Stephen Mayles has been operating a genuine pet crematorium in Sussex for 25 years. He has worked extensively on improving standards within the pet loss sector through his work with The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria (APPCC). More information about individual pet cremation or the APPCC is available at =>