Pet Cremation Answers and Pet Burial Answers

Here is a list of frequently asked questions and pet cremation answers that we encounter about the cremation or burial of pets.

If you have a question you would like answered then please send it to us via our contact page. 

What are my options for the cremation of my pet?
At Chestnut Lodge there are two forms of cremation.

Individual cremation is carried out in the way you would expect a human cremation to be performed. Your pet is placed alone in the enclosed cremation chamber. You are welcome to attend the cremation if you wish where you will be able to see the chamber has been scrupulously cleaned of any remains. At the end of the cremation your pet’s remains will be removed with the same meticulous care, prepared and homed into the option(s) you have selected. See more information on Individual Pet Cremation.

Communal cremation is just as respectful. Several pets are placed side by side for the start of the cremation period. As the cremation finishes their remains are pushed to the back of the chamber and other pets are placed side by side. This goes on during the day and the next morning all the remains are scrupulously collected and taken to a special area in the pet cemetery. This is filled in layers over a number of years and eventually becomes a memorial shrub bed. It is a permanent resting place for your pet’s remains. See more information on Communal Pet Cremation.

You have options on collection of your pet or you may bring your pet to us. You may have an attended individual cremation and take the ashes home with you. We will always try to accommodate any wishes you have for you pet’s cremation. That is what we are here for.

What are my options for the burial of my pet?

We provide two forms of burial in our pet cemetery.

The first is a formal burial in a plot marked by a headstone or full memorial with surrounds. Your pet will normally be buried in a coffin. There is an annual maintenance fee for the upkeep of the Cemetery payable each year for as long as you wish to keep the plot. We never remove any remains from the Cemetery and once plots are given up the headstones are removed and the plot reused or the new one moved to one side. Any remains are reburied at a lower depth.Your Title Goes Here

The second is a green burial in a plot marked by a shrub. The burial is carried out with the pet wrapped in a shroud or your own small blanket if you prefer. Again, there is a Cemetery maintenance fee payable each year to allow visiting.

Both burials are normally carried out in an informal manner although you may have your own service if you wish. You will have the choice whether you’d like to see your pet again before the burial.

The Cemetery is  open for visiting between 10am – 6pm (or dusk if earlier) and you may do so as often as you wish. You do not need an appointment to visit your grave.

Do I get the ashes of my pet?
This is our most asked question. There are two aspects to this. Firstly that your pet is placed alone in the cremation chamber and, secondly, that all the remains are scrupulously collected and nothing is lost after the cremation has finished. Without the second part, the first is meaningless which is why it is so misleading when pet crematoriums state that they can guarantee it is your pet’s ashes because they only do individual cremations. It all comes down to the integrity and thoroughness of the operator.

After the cremation, we rake all the remains (which consist of brittle bone fragments) into a tray and then sweep all the visible remains from the hearth. We carefully check the hearth by shining a bright light over it which will often show bits that cannot be seen under normal lighting. We then process the remains into a fine ash and that machinery is dismantled and brushed out so that no remains are left behind. The processing is one area that many places do not bother cleaning but it can leave a substantial amount of ash unless attended to.

Identification is a crucial aspect. Identification paperwork is filled out in duplicate part & of the form that has your details and that you sign, or is filled in on your behalf by your vet and stays with your pet during collection and whilst your pet is in our mortuary awaiting cremation. The details are taken from the form and entered into our cremation log which records the cremation chamber used, the time of the cremation, the name and a description of your pet.  The ID form is placed onto the side of the cremation chamber during the cremation, is then placed in the tray with the cremated remains and finally placed into the resealable bag containing the fine ash. It never leaves your pet until the ashes have been homed into your chosen option, placed into a box carefully labelled with your details and are ready for collection. 

You may wish to download & print a copy of a request form here. 

 This allows you to hand a copy of your request to your Vets to use as identification for any pet that we will be collecting for you.

This not only provides identification but clear instructions about the type of cremation, burial & any mementos you would like. 

This is all within the letter and spirit of the Trading Standards law and the code of the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria. The independent inspection we have put ourselves through with the APPCC checks all these points which is why we are so passionate about promoting the APPCC standards. There are few places in the country willing to submit themselves to this level of scrutiny.

You can see more information, including some pictures by following this link : The Main Question About Individual Pet Cremation Services

How much does it cost to have a pet cremated?
This will depend on the type of cremation you want, the size of your pet and what you would like to happen with the ashes.

A communal cremation is the least expensive and will be between £42 and £100. Your pet is carefully handled at all times, placed side by side with other pets in the chamber with the ashes going to the Pet Cemetery. Find out about Communal Pet Cremations.

Individual pet cremations can range from £120 to £290 with our simplest options for the presentation. We have 19 different options at the moment and these all vary in price. It is best to see everything on our Individual Cremation page. All the prices for the different options include the cremation cost and the presentation. VAT is included in all the prices.

You may also have a fur cutting, which is free of charge, or a paper or clay paw print at £26 each. We also have a range of keepsakes for small amounts of ash or fur.

Can I witness the cremation of my pet?
Yes, you can. You need to book a scheduled appointment for the cremation which will need to be in the morning. This is to allow time to have the ashes ready for you to take home but also to ensure the chamber is cool enough so that you do not see any ignition. There is a £52 charge for the scheduled appointment.

On the day you may have some quiet time with your pet in our reception before we proceed to the crematorium building. Your pet will be positioned ready and you may say a final goodbye if you wish. The process is very simple. We open the door of the chamber, you will be able to see it is completely swept out and we will gently slide or place your pet onto the hearth. The door is then closed and the cremation may begin. The inside of the unit simply looks like a kiln (or, as many people describe it, a pizza oven!).

Most people are happy with this but you may return to see the remains swept out of the unit and even stay as they are prepared to a fine ash and packed into your choice of option. The choice is yours. Obviously, precautions have to be taken for protection against heat and dust if you wish to view any more than the start of the cremation.

Our attended cremations are exactly that and might be very different to others services you may have attended at other crematoriums. Some people are surprised to be able to see the inside of the chamber but that is where you get the reassurance that we do everything properly. At other places an attended may be where you wait in one room and they take your pet into another area or you see your pet going through a door via a video screen. If the people are not showing you the full clean chamber where your pet is to be cremated then you should question what is going on.

All the details are on our web page about immediate and attended pet cremations.


How long does it take before I get my pet's ashes back?
This depends on how you arrange the cremation.

If you have a scheduled or attended cremation then the ashes will be ready for you to take home the same day. It takes about 2 hours to have everything ready for a cat or miniature dog. About 3 hours for a medium-sized dog and between 4 and 6 hours for a large or giant dog. We only have scheduled appointments in the morning to allow enough time to get everything looked after carefully. There are variables in this such as if you decide on a paw print before the cremation or you choose keepsakes or an option that takes a long time to prepare. We will let you know the approximate time when you contact us with the details.

If you bring your pet to us for the cremation then we will normally have everything ready within a few days, there are a couple of options that are handmade & make take slightly longer, we will make sure you are aware of all timing before you make your appointment with us.

If we are collecting from your home and returning the ashes to you then it depends on whether you wish to pay for us to make a specific journey or whether we can deliver on one of our scheduled runs. We can normally deliver within 7 days of collection.

If you are arranging a cremation through one of our partner vets you may wish to use our free twice weekly collection and delivery service our scheduled days are;
Collection on a Monday or Thursday – Horsham, Midhurst, Guildford, London, Croydon, Bromley, Maidstone Westerham, Edenbridge & surrounding areas.
Collection on a Tuesday or Friday – Brighton, Lewes, Peacehaven, Haywards Heath, Crawley, East Grinstead & surrounding areas.

Changes have to made to accommodate Public holidays but we always try to ensure you have your pet’s ashes home as soon as possible.
You will be asked to make payment before delivery. We send an invoice to you as soon as we have the instructions, we will send by email to expedite the process if we ave been given those details, you may wish to contact us as soon as you have made arrangements to ensure everything can be carried out to schedule.

This is a general guide and we will always carry out the cremation and have the ashes ready for you as quickly as we can. If you have any special requests for timings then just let us know.

Should I arrange my pet's cremation through a veterinary surgery?
We still work with a number of veterinary surgeries whose prime aim is the service to their clients, although that is changing rapidly. The majority of veterinary practices have an ingrained belief that pet crematoriums are waste disposal companies and expect them to take all their veterinary waste as well as the pets. With the amalgamation of vet surgeries into huge corporations or the individual ones signing up with veterinary buying groups, this has multiplied the problem. The handling of your pets suffers because of this process. See our advice page on this subject and always be sure you have a full description of the service you are getting. Don’t just rely on glossy advertising about Codes of Practice and dignified handling – find out exactly how they are handling your pet because the reality is often very different.

Go to our advice page on arranging a cremation through a vet and see the rest of our website for detailed descriptions of how we care for your pets.

Can I bury my pet at home?
The simple answer is yes with one exception and that applies to whether or not your pet is considered a hazard to human health after it dies. This will only occur in a very few cases where your pet has died of a notifiable disease that is a threat to others. This is the only time your vet is permitted to retain your pet and not allow you to take him or her home.

Pets come under the Animal By-Products Regulations after they die. The legislation states that all animals must be incinerated or cremated with the exception that pet animals may be buried in accordance with regulations. This means they have to be buried in a site that is approved under the Regulations. Pet cemeteries fall into this category but can still function as proper cemeteries. The exception to this is that a pet may be buried in the property that it lived in. Therefore it is quite alright to bury in your own garden but you are not allowed to bury your pet in, say, a friend’s garden. Of course having more than one home creates a bit of a grey area and in theory it should be the property the pet was living in when it died. However, we feel it is unlikely that any fuss would be made over that distinction. Of course, you should always bury responsibly at a reasonable depth of one metre. The grave should be kept away from any water courses.