Losing a pet is difficult. They become such an integral part of our lives that it’s hard to image life without them. But the reality is, for most of us, we will need to say goodbye to our loyal friend sooner than we are ready to. Because they are an important part of our lives we want to honor them in death, just like we would for a family member or close friend. But you may be wondering what you can do to honor your pet. As it turns out there are many ways to honor your dog. Here you will find 40 pet memorial ideas that can easily be used for a dog or cat. Many of these ideas can also be used for other family pets.
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Dealing with Pet Loss
Experiencing the death of a pet can leave us with a deep sense of loss. In a society where some people view their pets as family and others view them as property; it’s hard to navigate those feelings if you believe in the former. It’s also hard for people to understand our sense of loss if they believe that you can just replace your dog or cat with another one. So what can you do to cope with the death of a pet? Some people need to take actionable steps, this includes dealing with the remains, but it can also include honoring your pet just as we do when a person dies.
Pet Memorial Ideas For Dogs
Pet Memorial Service Ideas
When a person dies, we honor them with a funeral. This serves a few purposes. The first is to face the reality that the person is gone. When someone dies we often want to rebel against this reality. Seeing the body laid out and then placed in the ground confirms in our mind that the person is gone. The next is remembering the person and the third is to find support and comfort from other people who knew the deceased. Although traditional funerals are not common for pets, it’s still important to have the same support and closure for when our pets die.
1. Hold a funeral service
Just because funerals are not common for pets, that doesn’t mean you can’t have one for them. Whether you plan to bury your faithful friend in the yard or at a pet cemetery, gather family and friends to say their last goodbyes. If you plan to have your pup cremated, ask the pet cremation center what options they have for a pre-cremation service.
Need some help finding a pet cemetery? Check out our post Pet Cemeteries: A practical guide to burying your dog. It lists over 200 pet cemeteries across the U.S.
2. Share special memories
Take the time to remember your pet. Have a family dinner or get to together with people who knew your pet and share memories of them. These memories can be special moments in your pet’s life, like the time you first brought them home or the funny things they have done. You can also reminisce about their daily habits and activities. Anything you want to talk about is fine.
3. Light a candle in their honor
For many a candle symbolizes light in a time of darkness and also life itself. When we light a candle for a deceased love one, we are honoring their life. You can honor your pet’s life in the same way. If you are lighting the candle in a group setting ask each person to share a memory of the deceased before lighting the candle.
To make the candle lighting special, use a candle that is only lit when you are honoring your beloved pet. Although any candle that is reserved for this purpose will do, you can also get a personalized candle that is just for your cat or dog.
The Forever In Our Hearts – Loss of Pet Candle
The Forever In Our Hearts Candle by Hello You Candles can be personalized with your pet’s name and a short message on the back. You can also choose the scent and label color. The candle is made with American grown soy wax and fragrant oils. This candle is hand poured in California. It’s available on Amazon.com in their handmade section.
- American grown soy wax
- Comes in two sizes
- Customized with name and short message
4. Create a picture memorial
Place pictures of your pet around a room or create an altar for the pictures. Then invite people to view the pictures and share their memories.
5. Create a video
Combine short video clips from over the years to create a memorial video for your pet. Don’t forget to add music. Once it’s done share it with family and friends. If you are having an in-person service you can play it during the service.
Pet Memorial Activities
People tend to think of pet memorials as an object that you display to remember a pet. The most common pet memorials are memorial stones or plaques. But pet memorials can also be an activity that you do to honor a pet; like a funeral. Here are some more pet memorial ideas that are interactive:
6. Go on a picnic
Organize a picnic with your family and friends in your dog’s favorite spot. It could be at their favorite dog park or just in the backyard. Bring your dog’s favorite human foods and share stories of the times you spent with your pet in this spot.
7. Floating Lanterns
Probably the largest and best known floating lantern memorial is the Lantern Floating event in Hawaii. This event brings over 50,000 people to the south shore of O`ahu. Here people purchase floating lanterns and decorate them to honor their loved ones. The lanterns are then released into the water to float away. The goal of the event is to give all who attend a moment to remember, reflect and offer gratitude to those who have gone before us.
Smaller events can be found throughout the year. They are often coordinated by funeral homes.
8. Sky Lanterns
The idea behind the sky lanterns is similar to the floating lanterns. Lanterns are decorated to honor loved ones who have passed and then released into the sky. You can find a sky lantern event near you at Night Light Event
A word of warning: Sky Lanterns are illegal in many states due to the risks involved with them. Both the Floating Lanterns and Sky Lanterns pose a risk to the environment. These risks include starting a fire and littering. Discarded metal frames and other materials from lanterns have been known to cause harm to wildlife. Please act responsibly!
9. Land scattering
Another popular idea is to scatter your pet’s ashes in a place that they loved, like a favorite hiking spot or park. If you plan to scatter the ashes on public land or elsewhere, it’s important to get the proper permission first. Check with the local government in the area that you plan to scatter the ashes to see what is required.
To assist with the scattering you can now get a scattering tube. The tube allows you to scatter the ashes in a controlled way, away from you. It also lets you scatter the ashes in different places. There are multiple scattering tubs to choose from.
Pictured here is The living Urn Eco Scattering tube. You can find it at Amazon.com
10. Sea scattering
Another option is to scatter your pet’s ashes in the sea. You can find sea scattering services throughout the United States. Just make sure you check with federal and local governments to ensure you follow all regulations. The United States Environmental Protection Agency provides a general permit for human sea burial but this does not cover pets.
11. Create a memory time capsule
Place some of your pet’s pictures and a personal item in a time capsule to be opened in the future. If you plan to bury the time capsule in the ground make sure to choose a water resistant container that will not decompose in the soil.
12. Blow bubbles
Ok, this idea is kind of unique. But if your dog is like mine they love to chase bubbles, so why not blow some bubbles in their honor. If you still have other pets make sure to blow dog safe bubbles.
13. Create a scrapbook
Create a memory book for your pet. Memory books can be as elaborate or simple as you want. You can tie a few pages together with ribbon or purchase a ready-made book like shown below. It’s all up to you.
14. Volunteer at a local shelter
Shelters are always in need of help to care for the dogs and cats while they wait for a new home. Take some time to honor your pet by helping another animal in need.
Garden Related Pet Memorial Ideas
Creating a garden in memory of a beloved pet is a beautiful way to honor your pet. Here are some ideas to get started:
15. Plant a tree
Planting a tree is a time honored way to celebrate both life and death. But if you plan on planting a tree over your dog’s ashes you need to take an extra step. As it turns out your pet’s ashes are not good to grow plants in. The remains can have too much sodium and too high of a PH level to successfully grow plants.
But there is hope. The Living Urn is biodegradable urn that comes with a mixture that helps the ashes blend with the soil to create an environment that is able to support a tree. You simply plant the seedling directly in the urn. The urn can then be buried into the ground. You can find this product at Amazon.com
16. Plant flowers that remind you of your dog
Plant flowers with names that remind you of your dog. An example of this is a dogwood or if your dog has a flower name like; Lily, Daisy, or rose.
17. Pet Memorial Stones
Memorial stones are decorative stones that can be placed in your garden as a memorial to your pet. There are many different kinds of memorial stones. You can find memorial stones that are; personalized, have photos of your pet, special saying, etc. To see an assortment of stones to choose from visit our post on Pet Memorial Stones – Buying Guide.
18. Pet memorial Plaques
Pet memorial plaques serves the same purpose as memorial stones with the exception that they are lighter weight. Pet memorial plaques come in a variety of materials and designs. To see an assortment of pet memorial plaques visit our post on Pet Memorial Stones – Buying Guide.
19. Rock Shaped Memorial Urns
Not sure what to do with your pets ashes after they are cremated? Instead of placing the ashes in the ground, you can place them in a rock shaped urn that is made to be outside. Rock urns can look like a rock or some are ornamental like the one shown here. Either way they make a great addition to your memorial garden. The best part is, if you need to move you can take your pet’s ashes with you to your new place.
More examples of rock urns to go our post: Pet Memorial Stones – Buying Guide.
20. Pet memorial wind chimes
Wind chimes are a lovely addition to any garden. But dog memorial wind chimes will have you thinking of your pup every time the wind blows.
The pet memorial wind chime shown here comes standard with a short saying and a paw print or you can personalize it with your pet’s name, and picture. You can find it at amazon.com
- 30” long
- 6 recycled-aluminum tubes
- Heavy duty nylon cording
- Beech wood striker
21. Grave Markers
If you bury your pet or their ashes in the garden don’t forget to use a grave marker to remember where they were laid to rest. Grave markers can be simple or fancy. You can also get a personalized grave marker as a memorial to your pet. The choice is yours. You can find this one on Amazon.com.
Also check out our post on Pet Memorial Stones for more ideas for grave markers.
Pet Memorial Ideas for Your Home
22. Hang a custom portrait
Have a portrait made of your dog or cat to hang in your home. Having a portrait made for your dog is easy. All you need to do is provide a picture to the artist who will then create the portrait.
A less expensive option is to have your favorite picture of your pet printed and framed.
23. Renaissance Art
Add a little whimsy to your wall while also honoring your pet with this custom renaissance dog art. You just need to provide a clear picture of your dog, cat or other animal and they will do the rest. The result is a renaissance inspired picture of your pet. You can choose between an admiral and a princess.
You can find it on Amazon.com
24. Shadow box
When our pets leave us we are left with their belongings like their ID tag and collars. The question then becomes what to do with them. A creative solution is to create a shadow box to keep them on display as a memorial to our pets. You can buy a shadow box like the one pictured here or build your own.
25. Memory Pillow or quilt
If you like to sew, or know someone who does, you can create a memory quilt or pillow to honor your pet.
Projects can be made from scrapes of materials from your pet’s bedding or clothing. You can also make quilts or pillows with pictures that has been printed onto material as seen here. If you are not up for the challenge then Shutterfly can create it for you.
26. Personalized Urn
If you decided to cremate your pet you will need to decide what to do with the ashes. What better way to honor your pet then to give them a final resting place on the mantle or other prominent spot in your home. Urns come in many shapes and forms. Urns can be personalized with your dog’s photo and name. You can also choose a less conspicuous urn that resembles a piece of art, like the one shown here.
Remember to make sure to choose the correct sized urn
Honoring Your Pet Through Donations
Knowing you are making the world a better place can help with the healing process when losing a loved one. Here are a few ideas to give back to in honor of your pet.
27. Donate a tree
There are a few ways you can donate a tree in honor of your pet. TreesforaChange.com is one way. At Trees for a Change you can purchase a memorial tree or grove of trees in memory of your beloved pet. In return they will plant the tree(s) in a burnt out area of a U.S. National Forest. You receive a personalized certificate, plus online access to photos and information about the tree(s).
If you prefer to have the tree planted closer to home, you can contact your local parks department to see if they have a tree donation program. When you donate a tree to a local park you can often include a small plaque honoring your pet along with the planting.
28. Donate a park bench
If you and your dog had a favorite park, you might want to donate a park bench in their honor. Local parks will often accept monetary contributions to buy a park bench. In exchange of the donation, a memorial plaque is added to the bench to honor the person or pet. Contact your local parks department for more information.
29. Donate to your local shelter
What better what to honor your pet then to help another pet in need? Local shelters are always looking for donations to care for animals while they wait for their new homes. Donations can be in the form of money or much needed items. Check your local shelter’s website to see if they have a list.
30. Sponsor a dog that needs medical help
Sometimes rescue dogs need a little extra help in the way of medical care. These bills can be a financial strain on non-profit rescue groups who rely on donations and adoption fees to cover the cost. You don’t have to cover the entire expense of medical treatment but your donation can go towards getting them the care they need to live a happy life.
31. Foster a dog
You may not be ready to commit to another pet, but fostering a pet while they wait for their new home may be a way to pay it forward. You can find pet in need of fostering on petfinder.com or contact your local rescue groups.
32. Donation Bracelet – I heart dogs
If you are looking for a way to give to dogs in need, plus have something to remember your pup, iheartdogs.com offers a limited edition memorial bracelet. With every bracelet purchased. I Heart Dogs donates 22 meals to shelter dogs. The meals are donated to dog rescues and shelters through Rescue Bank® project.
Personalized Pet Memorial Ideas
There are many personalized pet memorials you can choose from. Here are just a few of the options available.
33. Personalized dog ornament
Give your pup, or cat a place of honor on the tree with a pet memorial ornament like the one shown here. The double sided ornament features the saying “Forever in our Hearts” with paw prints and a place for a photo. On the other side is a silver bone with your pet’s name and date of death. You can find it on Amazon.com. You can find more personalized dog ornaments here.
34. Personalized Urn
Another personalized pet memorial idea is this wooden urn. You can have your pet’s picture laser engraved on the top of the wooden urn along with their name and years. On the side is the saying “If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, I’d walk right up to Heaven and bring you home again.” You can also choose to have a different saying engraved. You can find this item in the handmade section of amazon.com
Unique Pet Memorial Ideas
You can now honor your pet in some unique ways too. One of them is to have your pets ashes incorporated in a variety of items. Here are a few options that we found along with a couple of other unique ideas:
So this one might not be that unique since tattoos have become a common way to memorialize a loved one who has passed. You can get a simple tattoo of just paw prints or a more elaborate one with the image of your pet.
36. Tattoo with your dog’s ashes
Now you can take the idea of getting a tattoo to honor your pet one step further with a tattoo that includes your pet’s ashes in the ink. To find out more, go to Cremation Ink for the information.
37. Cremation Stone
This beautiful cremation stone incorporates your pet’s ashes into the glass. The stone glows from the center thanks to a small battery powered tea light. The light shines the brightest where the ashes are present. Each luminary measures approximately 4-5” wide x 3” tall. No two pieces are alike. Each piece of art is handcrafted. You can choose from a few colors. You can find it in the handmade section of amazon.com
38. Cremation Diamond
You can turn a portion of your dog’s ashes into a diamond. According to Eterneva the process takes about 7 to 10 months to purify the ashes, than grow and cut the diamond. To learn more go to Eterneva.com.
39. Cremation Jewelry
If a cremation diamond is a little too expensive, cremation glass jewelry might be a good alternative. They create the cremation glass jewelry by fusing your pet’s ashes into colored handmade glass. The blue pendent shown is available at Spirit Pieces.
Petsies are a unique way to keep your pup around long after they have gone. What is a Petsies? They are custom-made stuffed animals that look like your dog or cat. A designer uses your uploaded photo to create a stuffed version of your pet. The artist uses airbrushing to match your pet’s unique markings. You can find them at petsies.com.
Check out our other related posts:
- Pet Memorial Stones – Buying Guide
- Pet Cremation Guide: A resource for when it’s time
- Pet Cemeteries: A practical guide to burying your dog
- United States Environmental Protection Agency Rules on Sea Burials
- The Living Urn Resources: How Do I Scatter Ashes at Sea?