Grieving Pet Owners Inking 'Memorial Tattoos' with Beloved Ashes

How do you feel about tattoos that connect you to beloved animals that are deceased? Pet owners have a variety of options to commemorate their time with their animals. Urns, caskets, pictures and even lifelike stuffed animals are all options. explains, 

"A lot of people actually choose to have a pet portrait tattooed in remembrance of their loved one."

Animal memorial tattoos are nothing new but in the past few years small amounts of the pet's ashes are mixed into the tattoo ink and embedded into the skin with the design. Ashes for body art is now (for both human and pets) something tattoo artists expect grieving clients to ask.

I have tattoos of all three of my dogs that are still living and the idea of adding their ashes after they pass is intriguing. I've also created jewelry with ashes of my hound dog, Sandola, that passed away many years ago and I wear it all the time. tells us

"As of last year, the majority of people in the U.S. — 50.2 percent — cremate, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. With more people bringing loved ones' remains into their homes rather than burying in a cemetery, it stands to reason some might take after-death memorials a step further, like using ashes for body art."

The typical tattoo designs for dog memorial tattoos are dog paw prints or a dog's name. Animal lovers will also request cat tattoos or in some cases quote tattoos. The trend of tribute tattoos after an animal crosses the rainbow bridge is embraced by many pet lovers as it helps keep the memory of their beloved animal alive even after they're gone.

The interviewed the owner of PawPrints Crematorium and told them, 

"People often ask me to say a prayer for their pet or for a lock of hair to keep.  In recent times, I've been asked by dozens of owners for some of the ashes to use in what they call memorial tattoos."

Animals are absolutely man's best friend and if you're interested in a portrait tattoo or paw print tattoo, the tattoo artist will help you brainstorm tattoo ideas and they'll draw or sketch the image that you can view in advance. The end result can be a tiny tattoo or literally a dog portrait. In addition to skin art, there are many ways to memorialize your pet. Some will request an actual paw print after the animal passes away or a commissioned watercolor painting.

Our advice?

Research a local tattoo gallery that has artists on staff that embraces the style of the animal tattoo you're interested in inking on your arm and then ask them if they will consider including ashes. Explain to them in an email that this is a pet memorial tattoo that is very special and you're interested in this new concept. Having a short dialogue with the tattoo artist in advance will be an important step. You can even include some pet tattoo ideas (any example) or links to the work they have on their Instagram page of tattoo pictures you love. Whether it's a dogs paw, the quote "rip" or a Chihuahua tattoo the drawing should represent exactly what you're picturing. You want this to be the best tattoo not just a cute tattoo.

If you're struggling with the death of a pet, there are many support hotlines but we highly recommend Cornell University's pet loss support hotline. Trained professionals will help guide you through how to cope with your grief. Contact the Veterinary College at Cornell University's Pet loss support hotline for more information.

The best resource for ink with ashes is 

Do you have a tattoo of your pet? Would you consider inking a tattoo with their ashes after they pass? Please let us know and leave a comment below. 

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