When a beloved pet dies, we have to consider what to do next. If your pet has been ill for a while, or perhaps they have been showing signs of extreme age, then their death comes as less of a shock. Certainly no less upsetting, but at least you have had time to consider their aftercare. If you haven’t talked about it with anyone else, you still may have subconsciously considered your pet’s aftercare options for when the time comes – You have thought about cremation and about burial.
First thoughts on burial of my pet
Burial may well be your first thought. Burial gives us the opportunity to make our pet’s passing into a kind of ceremony. A ceremony doesn’t have to be religious. Nobody has to make a speech. Just the act of everyone deciding on the exact spot, making the hole, and filling it in afterwards are all part of a ceremony that can help some of us to handle our loved pets’ passing better. Often common sense makes us think about the practicalities:-
- What happens if we move house in the next few years?
- Do we have a place where we are sure they won’t be disturbed by our new extension?
- Who will dig the hole?
- Should we plant a tree or bush over the grave?
- How safe will my pet’s body be afterwards? We have foxes and stray-dogs around us and have heard foxes dig up bodies.
It is these concerns that make so many choose cremation – either shared, or individual cremation with ashes returned in a casket or urn. These allow ashes to be scattered along walks, or in areas of the garden. They allow those important memories of pets to be kept ‘material’ within the memorial of a permanent casket.
If you’ve definitely decided on burial…
If you have decided to use the burial option, then you may need some guidance:-
- Do read our website page on burial
- Do think hard about the site of the grave. It has to be within your garden and nowhere near a watercourse or ‘services’. Make sure there are no plans to disturb that area of the garden in the future.
- Consider how you would like your pet to buried. A simple blanket is fine, but there are many other coffin options now available which should be made of materials that bio-degrade and are friendly to the environment. Plastic sheeting and other similar materials should be avoided.
- How big a surface area? As big as your pet plus 25% all around. It’s hard to dig vertical sides to a deep hole, so you will probably need to start your hole wider and longer than you’d think.
- How deep? I always tell my clients at least 3 feet (one metre) plus the size of your pet or coffin. I recently had a client bury her beloved German Shepherd called Bess. She was fairly thin, but the hole still had to be dug to a depth of 3 feet plus 1 foot = 4 feet (1 metre 30cm). Heavier soils such as clay can be slightly less.
- If you want more peace of mind, then there other ways to safeguard your pet’s grave. The absolute worst thing is when a fox tries to dig into a grave:- After half refilling the hole with soil, some people will lay a sheet of chicken wire in the hole, and then continue to refill the hole with soil. Make sure the wire is not coated with plastic. Some people will lay flag stones over the top, but you may need to wait a year or so for the soil to settle before the flags are stable.
Whatever your choice, please free to contact us at Quietus Vet and we can help with any further advice on burial or cremation. Most important of all, make sure that you are happy with your choice. We want you to have as easy a journey through your pet’s passing as possible.
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