In just a few years, pet funerals have gone from a service offered by a handful of veterinarians, to something offered by hundreds of funeral homes. For example: Oakey’s Funeral Services in Virginia is a business that’s been doing human funerals for over a century. But after expanding to include pet funerals three years ago, they now perform about 900 pet burials and cremations a year!

Experts say pet funerals are for people who want to go the “extra mile” for a departed pet. Most services are small, where family and friends gather to pay tribute to your pet – with a memorial slide show, or with music and poetry readings. Some pet funerals also come with a certificate that includes an ink paw print, and a lock of your pet’s hair.

For the remains, experts say most pet owners choose cremation because that way, you get a small urn with your departed pet’s ashes. However, you can also choose to have your pet buried in a traditional casket – either in your yard, or in a pet cemetery - complete with a gravestone marker. More extreme pet funeral options include taxidermy – or freeze-drying your pet and we’ve even read about a company that offers to make a synthetic diamond out of your pet’s ashes!

Whatever you choose, experts describe pet funerals as an “appropriate sendoff” - when you consider that we now think of pets as full-fledged family members, and spend over 50 billion dollars a year on our pets while they’re alive.