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How to memorialize a pet

The essentials

  • A memorial can help you to cope with the death of a beloved pet — Grief that goes unacknowledged can cause increased distress in humans, but memorializing your pet can help you come to terms with the loss.
  • There are many unique ways to memorialize a pet — From paw print molds and custom pieces of artwork to funeral services and memory boxes, you’re bound to find a special way to honor your pet.
  • Your vet can offer you advice on cremation and burial services — They will be able to guide you through the process and explain the options available to you.

Losing a beloved family pet creates a whirlwind of emotions, especially if the death was unexpected. Creating a memorial allows you to remember the good times you had with your pet and helps to heal from the pain of their loss.

Why memorialize your pet?

A pet is an integral part of the family. We love and care for them, and they offer us unconditional love and companionship in return. The loss of a beloved pet can be a devastating experience. In fact, a 2003 study found that the canine-human bond is similar to that of a child and a parent. Pets offer us emotional support, combat loneliness, and even reduce mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It’s important to give yourself space after the loss of a pet to deal with the trauma in your own way.

The experience of losing a pet is different for every pet parent. However, a memorial can be a great way to remember your pet and cope with the grieving process.

👉 Some pet insurers will cover certain costs of cremation and burial at a premium. It’s always worth checking with your insurance provider. 

10 ways to memorialize a pet you’ve lost

The way we grieve and remember a loved pet is unique for every pet parent. Here are 10 memorial ideas to celebrate the life of your pet and ease the pain of their passing in a healthy way:

1. Create a nose print or paw print

A simple plaster cast, ink print, or salt dough mold of your pet’s nose or paw print can be a beautiful memento to honor the life of your fur baby. These can be mounted in a picture frame or kept in a keepsake box alongside other memories. You can also turn them into more elaborate pieces of artwork or even a tattoo.

Many vet clinics offer paw print services during the end of life pet care process. So, it’s worth checking what’s available in your area. Alternatively, you can order supplies online to do it yourself, such as the ultimate paw print keepsake kit.

2. Write an obituary

Words are one of the most powerful tools you can use to express your emotions. You might consider writing an obituary for your pet. You can even turn it into a poem or song and read to your children to help them deal with the loss of their companion. Things you can add include:

  • Basic information such as their date of birth
  • How and when your pet joined your family
  • Favorite toys, people, food, napping spot, and places to go for a walk
  • Quirky personality traits and cutest tricks
  • Other personal memories
  • A touching parting message

Going through the process of recalling favorite memories of your pet will help you to focus on the joy they brought to your life. You can either keep your obituary private, share it with selected friends and family members, or post it on social media.

3. Hold a pet funeral

Invite friends and family over to celebrate the life of your pet in a way that’s meaningful to you. Find a special place to hold the memorial service and share uplifting and fond memories of the good times with your pet. Speaking of your pet out loud and finding comfort in the company of others can help you to process your grief. If you have your pet’s remains, you can bury them or scatter their ashes during this time too.

4. Create a memory box

A memory box is a beautiful keepsake that you can look through whenever you feel the need. You can add special items that remind you of your pet such as a photo, collar, paw print, favorite toy, fur clipping, or their ashes. Many companies, including a number of Etsy sellers, will also offer you the option to personalize a keepsake box with a unique engraving.

5. Customize jewelry or art

Personalize a beautiful piece of jewelry with your pet’s name, a photo, or a touching message. Many companies will do this for you. For example, Jewelry Keepsakes offer pendants that can be laser engraved with an image of your choice.

Another option is cremation jewelry. Many companies, like Spirit Pieces, will use some of your pet’s ashes to create unique necklaces, bracelets, and rings. These can be personalized with your pet’s name, picture, personalized message, or paw print. This way, you can carry a part of your pet around with you.

If jewelry isn’t your thing, you can also purchase custom artwork based on a photo of your pet. These can be created with or without the addition of your pet’s ashes. Many local artists will do this for you so it’s worth looking around. You can also find services online where you can upload a photo of your pet to be painted and shipped to you — FidoTabby is one that we have found and would recommend.

6. Buy an animal replica

There are companies out there that will create a stuffed animal look-alike of your beloved companion animal, such as Petsies. They will also create other items with an image of your pet, such as blankets, keychains, pillows, and even pajamas.

7. Plant a tree

Planting a tree, flower bed, or vegetable patch in your pet’s memory is a wonderful way to honor them. This can be in their favorite playing spot, digging site, or lounging area. You can even add a personalized plaque or a grave marker to create a lasting memorial of your pet.  If you have your pet’s ashes, you can also bury or scatter them in your backyard.

8. Get a tattoo

What better way to remember your beloved fur baby than to get a permanent tattoo of them on your body? Take a photo of your pet to a local tattoo parlor and discuss your vision with a qualified professional. You can even create a unique design based on an image of your pet that’s meaningful to you.

9. Make a donation

Help your pet’s memory live on by donating to an animal shelter or humane society in your pet’s name. Did you rescue your pet from an animal shelter? Then consider donating to your local shelter to improve the lives of other animals in need. If your pet suffered from an illness, you may want to consider donating to a research center.

10. Create a photo journal

Photos can easily be transferred from an electronic device to a photo album. Select as many photos as you can to create a lasting chronicle of your pet’s life. You can even get the kids involved by turning it into a scrapbook of memories. Young children will love decorating the book with drawings, symbols, and words to honor their lost pet. This will also help them to open up about their feelings and deal with the process of grief.

Alternatively, you can combine short videos and photos of your pet into a slideshow or video that you can watch back whenever you like. Several websites can help you with this, such as Animoto and Flexclip.

Frequently asked questions

How do you honor a deceased pet?

The loss of a loved pet can be heartbreaking for any pet parent. It’s important to honor the death of your fur baby in a meaningful way that feels right to you. Options you can consider include holding a memorial service, creating a beautiful keepsake box of memories, or customizing a memorial necklace with your pet’s ashes.

How do you make a pet memorial?

A pet memorial can be as unique as the bond you had with your beloved animal companion.  Try creating a simple memorial garden in your backyard by planting a new tree or flower bed. You can even add a grave marker or memorial stone with your pet’s name and the date of their passing. Other pet memorial ideas include creating a memory journal of your pet’s life and getting a tattoo that reminds you of them.

What do you give a grieving pet owner?

If a friend or family member has just lost a beloved pet, a thoughtful gift can show them you care. Try to find a gift that will preserve a special memory they have with their pet, such as a personalized ornament or a piece of artwork. If you are more creative, you can make a scrapbook for them with photos of their deceased pet and other touching memories.

What helps with the grief of losing a pet?

Pets are a part of the family, so we can feel intense loss when they are suddenly gone. The most important thing is to allow yourself the time and space you need to process your grief. Expressing your emotions in the form of a heartfelt obituary or by speaking to family and friends will also help. When you’re ready, find a way to memorialize your pet to ensure their memory lives on.