Many people may not know much about pet cemeteries outside of the titular Stephen King horror movie. However, pet cemeteries can be a great option to provide your beloved companion with a dignified final resting place where you can go to visit them.
Pet burial costs can run anywhere from around a hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on the type of burial required and the pet’s size. Additional options for pet burial, such as memorial headstones and gravesite maintenance, can also increase costs.
Choosing a pet cemetery and pet burial options can be overwhelming in the aftermath of a pet’s death, so it’s good to think about your choices before it becomes a necessity. Read on to learn more about pet burial costs and the options available for laying your friends to rest.
Average Cost of Pet Burial in Pet Cemeteries
The cost of burying your pet depends on several factors. These include variables such as the following:
- Pet size: Many pet cemeteries allow animals from the size of a canary up to the size of a horse to be interred in them, which means the cost of burial can vary quite a bit depending on how large the animal is. The larger the necessary burial plot, the more expensive the pet burial will cost.
- Burial type: There are several pet burial options, from communal cremation in a mass grave to internment in an individual mausoleum slot. These options are priced differently at different cemeteries according to availability and local demand.
- Memorial accessories: Many pet cemeteries offer additional accessories to help memorialize a pet, such as headstones, plaques, bronzed paw print keepsakes, or even cremation jewelry made of the animal’s ashes. These additional options will usually increase the base cost of pet burial.
- Plot availability: People who pre-purchase a gravesite with multiple plots can often get a reduced price on gravesites per plot versus people who buy a grave plot on walk-in availability. Some plots may also be more expensive due to their location within the cemetery or a mausoleum plot rather than a burial site.
The cost of a pet burial also depends on where the pet is buried. Some pet cemeteries have inflated prices due to popularity or proximity to special attractions such as war dog memorials. Others may have subsidized programs in place with local animal shelters and veterinary clinics to help provide low-income burial options.
Pet Cemetery Cost Comparison
While the average pet burial cost ranges between $1,500 and $2,000 across the United States (Source: Better Place Forests), this isn’t a very good representation of how much basic pet burials cost because the numbers vary so much from region to region.
Below you’ll find a chart of fifteen of the most popular pet cemeteries across the United States and their pet burial costs. This cost comparison can give you a more detailed idea of how much it costs to bury a pet based on where you live.
Pet Cemetery Burial Cost Comparison
|Decatur Pet Cemetery||Decatur, Alabama||$850+|
|Oregon Humane Society||Portland, Oregon||$850|
|Hartsdale Pet Cemetery||Hartsdale, New York||$850-$4,000|
|Sorrento Valley Pet Cemetery||San Diego, California||$600+|
|Hinsdale Pet Cemetery||Willowbrook, Illinois||$660.44-$1135.09|
|Abbey Glen Pet Memorial Park||Lafayette, Louisiana||$800+|
|Sunland Pet Rest||Sun City, Arizona||$400+|
|Sleepy Hollow Pet Cemetery||Byron Center, Michigan||$185-$400|
|Dixie Memorial||Shelby County, Tennessee||$600+|
|Forest Run Pet Cemetery||Sherwood, Wisconsin||$550+|
|Bubbling Well Memorial Park||Napa County, California||$300+|
|Evergreen Pet Cemetery||Evergreen, Colorado||$575-$1,500|
|Corpus Christi Pet Cremations||Corpus Christi, Texas||$740-$1,500|
|Broward Pet Cemetery||Plantation, Florida||$730+|
|Savannah Pet Cemetery||Savannah, Georgia||$99-$279|
As you can see from the table, pet burial costs can change drastically from one pet cemetery to another. This is why it’s a good idea to call ahead and see your options before finding a pet cemetery for your animal becomes a time-sensitive issue.
Along with saving up for a pet’s medical expenses in life, it’s a good idea for any responsible pet owner to consider the costs of burying their pet if they intend to do it through a pet cemetery. In some areas, other than surrendering your pet’s body to animal control services, burying your pet in a pet cemetery is the only legal way to dispose of pet remains.
Pet Burial vs. Cremation
One of the major decisions to make when determining pet burial cost is to decide between burial and cremation. Cremation is an option that many pet cemeteries offer that burns the animal’s body into a pile of soft ashes that can be kept in an urn, buried in a burial plot, or carried home.
An advantage of going with cremation at a pet cemetery over burying your pet’s body is that pet cremation tends to be roughly half as expensive as pet burial. This makes it a good option for pet owners who can’t afford full burial at a pet cemetery and don’t want to bury their pets at home.
Private vs. Communal Cremation Costs
There are three major options available for pet owners who want to cremate their pet at a pet cemetery: private cremation, partitioned cremation, and communal cremation.
- Private cremation is the most expensive of the cremation options available. However, it offers owners the opportunity to oversee the cremation of their pet. It can also help them prevent their pet’s ashes from being mixed with the ashes of other animals. For some pet owners, this is an important aesthetic or religious consideration.
- Partitioned cremations involve multiple animals being cremated at once, but the crematorium is partitioned so that each animal’s ashes remain divided as in private cremation. Partitioned cremations are usually a bit cheaper than private cremations but may not be available at all crematoriums.
- Communal cremation is a cremation where multiple animals are cremated together. This is the cremation option chosen for needy animals like euthanized strays and is the cheapest option for disposing of your animal’s body for burial.
Cremation is less expensive than buying a burial plot for your pet because it doesn’t require maintenance or purchasing accessories such as a headstone or casket. A cremation is a good option for pet owners who want to dispose of their pet’s body respectfully but would find it difficult to afford a full funeral and burial plot for their pet.
Some people may have specific religious or spiritual preferences when it comes to cremation since different religious doctrines suggest different rites for body preparation and burial after death. While these restrictions don’t always strictly apply to pets, many pet owners want the same funeral rites performed for their pets as they would for a human member of their family.
Other Pet Burial Options
Along with the actual cost of opening and closing a grave for your pet, other pet burial options can add or detract from the overall cost of pet burial. Here are some of the additional costs you may need to consider.
- Monuments: Plaques, headstones, and other memorial monuments displayed in the pet cemetery can add increased cost to the burial, especially if high-quality construction materials are used, or an elaborate statue is erected in the pet’s honor.
- Perpetual care and annual maintenance: These fees are associated with pet burial because they ensure that the pet’s gravesite is kept in good conditions from year to year. All pet cemeteries employ grave keepers to help maintain the cemetery aesthetics by cleaning headstones, mowing, and performing other groundwork.
- Funerals and visitations: Many pet cemeteries help pet owners arrange final memorials for their pets, including formal funerals with guests and visitation venues. As with human burials, this gives friends and family one last chance to say goodbye to a fallen pet.
- Body transportation: For pet owners who may have difficulty transporting the body of their pet to the pet cemetery or crematorium, pet cemeteries offer services to pick up the body of your pet and transport it for burial or cremation. This is a useful resource for pet owners such as horse owners or owners of large breed dogs.
- Pre-need planning: Pre-need planning by buying a burial plot for your pet ahead of their death allows you to finance the cost of your pet’s funeral and usually save some money in the long term. Pre-need planning is a great way to defray the costs of a pet burial over time rather than paying for the expense all at once unexpectedly.
- Keepsakes: Many pet memorial keepsakes are created from a pet’s ashes, fur, or paw prints, but these keepsakes mean additional costs tacked on to your pet’s funeral.
Preparing for these pet burial expenses ahead of time can help pet owners send their pets off in style. Having these plans made for ailing pets such as those that are dying of cancer can also make the passing of the pet less stressful when the time comes for humane euthanasia.
How to Reduce the Costs of Pet Burial
For many people, spending over a thousand dollars for the burial of their pet might seem unaffordable. However, there are many ways to reduce the overall costs of burying your pet when they die. Here are a few options for saving money on a pet burial:
- Bury your pet at home. While it is not legal in all areas for an animal to be buried on private property, in many cases it is permitted. However, burying a pet at home might require a large excavation in the landscape that could potentially risk underground cables or water pipes, so plan carefully if you choose this option.
- Go with communal cremation. Communal cremation is often the least expensive burial option for disposing of a companion animal’s body. While it might not be as fancy as some pet burials, you can still have the option to receive some of your pet’s ashes afterward as a memento mori.
- Pay for your pet’s burial ahead of time. Pre-planning for your pet’s burial allows you to pay for your pet’s gravesite, cremation costs, or other fees over time rather than being forced to pay them as a lump sum after the animal’s death. This allows pet owners to cover their pet’s burial in small, manageable payments.
- Ask your veterinarian. Veterinarians have access to low-income resources for pet burial and disposal. If you are having a hard time paying for a formal burial in a pet cemetery, you might be able to find a more affordable option through a vet.
- Call animal control. Animal control has access to communal cremation for pet remains and can arrange for your animal to be picked up curbside to be disposed of. This can be one of the cheapest ways to bury a pet if you don’t want to bury them at home and can’t afford to bury them in a pet cemetery.
Pet burial costs can be expensive depending on where you live and how large your pet is. Using the above tips can help keep the cost of pet burial as affordable as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pet Burial
Arranging for a pet burial can be a confusing time for some people, especially if they’ve never had to deal with the death of a pet before. Below you’ll find some of the most common questions and answers that come up about burying a pet.
Can You Bury a Pet at Home?
In many places, it’s legal to bury your pet on your private property with some stipulations. Some states require animals to be buried down to a certain depth to prevent them from being dug up accidentally. For example, Alabama only allows a person to bury a pet on their own property if the animal is buried a minimum of two feet.
Some other considerations for buying a pet at home include how close the burial site is to a natural water source (which could be contaminated by the pet’s decomposition) or how hard the local soil is. During certain times of the year, such as winter, the ground may be frozen or too hard to dig a proper grave without heavy equipment.
There are also several risks associated with burying a pet at home, such as the following.
- The pet may be dug up by scavenging animals such as dogs, foxes, or coyotes.
- The pet may resurface due to flooding or other soil disruptions.
- The decaying pet can cause bacterial contamination in the surrounding soil.
- The backyard memorial will be lost if the property is sold.
Can You Bury a Pet on Public Land?
In almost all cases, it is illegal to bury a pet on public lands such as a state park or wildlife management area. If you are caught burying a pet on public land, you can be subjected to fines and even jail time depending on your criminal record and where the trespass was committed.
If you don’t want to bury your pet on private land and can’t afford to bury them in a pet cemetery, contact your veterinarian or animal control services rather than trying to bury the pet on public land. This can prevent you from getting in trouble with the law since a dead animal is considered a biohazard and must be disposed of properly.
Can Pets Be Buried With People?
Historically pets have been buried with humans for most of human history. However, in modern history, most human cemeteries will not inter pets alongside their owners. This is considered disrespectful to those gravesite owners who do not believe animals and people should be buried together.
For pet owners who would like to be buried with their pet, one available option in some pet cemeteries is to be buried alongside your pet in the pet cemetery. Because of space restrictions, this may require the pet owner to be cremated and placed in an urn alongside their pet rather than given a full-body burial.
Another option that is becoming more popular is the whole family cemetery. This is a cemetery where an entire family and their descendants can be buried together in the same large cemetery plot – humans, pets, and all.
Can You Watch a Pet Cremation?
While many people opt not to watch the cremation of their pet since it can be considered visually distressing to some, many pet cemeteries will offer pet owners the option to directly oversee the private cremation of their pets.
This is a good choice for pet owners who are afraid that their animal’s ashes may be mixed in with other animals, or they may be given the wrong ashes by mistake. Some pet owners are also curious about the cremation process. Since it is difficult to directly oversee a human cremation, an animal cremation is a rare look into how crematoriums work.
Can You Watch a Pet Burial?
Like human cemeteries, pet cemeteries often give owners the option for full funeral rites, including graveside burial and visitation/wakes. These services can make a pet’s burial costs more expensive, but they also provide closure and a dignified ceremony to celebrate the life of a cherished pet.
In some cases, a pet may have a graveside memorial service, but the actual burial of the pet may be delayed until after mourners have left. This is usually to allow grave diggers to bring in heavy equipment or remove the trappings of the gravesite from the grave itself before refilling the soil and sod.
Can My Veterinarian Have My Pet Buried?
Many veterinarians will happily help one of their patients set up cremation services or pet burial as a part of the humane euthanasia process. Veterinarians are well aware of the emotional strain that a pet’s death can place on the pet owner and will do everything in their power to make the transition as painless for the pet owner as possible.
Pet owners should remember that if a veterinarian arranges for cremation, there is usually a fee associated with the service. This fee is usually around three to four hundred dollars depending on the vet and the size of the animal.
Memorializing a Pet Before Burial
Other than burying your pet in a pet cemetery in a formal ceremony, there are several other ways that you can memorialize your pet at the time of their death. Here are a few ways to create a cherished keepsake of your pet’s memory:
- Turn their ashes into jewelry. Cremated animal ashes can be turned into diamonds and other keepsake jewelry as a way for pet owners to keep their pets close to their heart even after they pass.
- Get a memorial portrait. Placing a good photograph of your pet in a memorial frame and placing it in a cherished spot in the household can be a great way to keep a deceased pet’s memory alive in an affordable way. Printing the pet’s photograph onto a canvas or even commissioning a painting of the pet are also great memorials.
- Save your pet’s paw print. Many pet cemeteries and pet memorial services are able to take a paw print of your pet on high-quality card stock as a memorial. Some pet cemeteries are even able to bronze your pet’s paw print for an urn or headstone.
- Make a scrapbook. Making a scrapbook of your pet using their photographs and a few notes about them can be a cathartic way of working through the grief of losing them while also making a point to remember the good times you had together.
Other than expensive monuments and mausoleums, there are plenty of other ways that you can memorialize your pet and honor them when they die that will act as cherished keepsakes for your family for generations to come.
How to Find a Pet Cemetery
The easiest way to find a pet cemetery near your home is arguably to look them up online, but this isn’t the only option you have if you’re trying to decide which pet cemetery to use. Here are a few other ways to find a pet cemetery:
- Ask your veterinarian. Veterinarians sadly have to euthanize many animals throughout the course of their daily jobs. They can usually point their patients to burial services for their pets either at the time of euthanasia or when an animal is in a health decline. This can allow pet owners to make arrangements ahead of time for reduced costs and stress.
- Ask friends and family. Many people have had a pet die sometime during the course of their life, and sometimes people can make recommendations on a good pet cemetery based on pet burial services they’ve used in the past.
Pet cemeteries are more populous in some areas than they are in others, so this may restrict your choices for a cemetery. It also may mean you might have to travel a bit to find a pet cemetery you like.
Choosing the Right Pet Cemetery
There are many variables that go into choosing a pet cemetery, and they are a little different for everyone. These are just a few of the things you need to consider when you’re choosing a pet cemetery:
- Pet size: If you have a larger pet such as a horse or llama that needs burial, this may restrict which pet cemeteries can handle a full burial of your animal. In some cases, larger animals may be restricted to cremation services or there may not be burial services for large animals or livestock available.
- Location: Pet cemeteries can be few and far between compared to human cemeteries, so you might have to plan on traveling some distance to visit the grave of your pet if you have them buried in a pet cemetery rather than on your private property. Keep in mind how far you’re willing to go to see your pet after they’re buried.
- Available services: Many cemeteries offer unique memorial services that vary greatly from location to location, so it’s up to the pet owner to contact each cemetery individually to see what perks are associated with each property. Some cemeteries act only as burial property, while others have staff to help pet owners plan funerals.
When you’re looking for a pet cemetery or a pet crematorium, keep in mind that any reputable cemetery or crematorium should have an open-door policy for inspecting the grounds and the crematorium area. Transparency and clear communication are key when you’re choosing a facility to carry out your pet burial service, so be sure to ask plenty of questions.
Pet Burials Can Be Expensive
Pet burials aren’t as expensive as burying a human. However, pet owners can still end up spending thousands of dollars in both short-term and long term costs associated with burying their pet in a pet cemetery.
Being aware of these burial costs and getting financially prepared for them while your pet is still young and healthy can be a good way to ensure that you have the funds to give them a proper send-off when the time comes to say goodbye.