Bone Cleaning


My bone cleaning process has been refined over a decade of experience to be safe, gentle, and thorough. Cleaning is done as a joint effort of myself and many dermestid beetles, a native insect that is used in forensic pathology to clean bones. They can get into the smallest spaces for an incredibly thorough cleaning without causing damage to even delicate structures. That process is followed by a gentle degreasing and whitening of the bone, which removes stains, odors and internal oils that can cause damage and discoloration over time.

Dermestid Beetles

You can choose to preserve anything from your pet’s skull or a special bone to the entire skeleton. We can also articulate (assemble in a life-like pose) the full skeletons of most pets, as well as partial articulations – for example, a tail or paw. We take articulation projects on a case-by-case basis, and may decline for very small or very large pets, but will do our best to refer you to someone when we can’t help.

What can I expect from my pet’s bones?

The bones you receive will be clean, free of odor, and white. I use a safe chemical process that both sterilizes and brightens the natural color of the bone. If you prefer a less white, more natural bone color, that is easy to accommodate. Please just let me know.

Most of the pets I work with were elderly or in ill health, and this can have an effect on your pet’s bones. It’s not uncommon to see signs of age and wear, and tooth loss and signs of periodontal disease are incredibly common, especially in older pets. What may be obvious in the bone is not always noticeable while your pet is alive, so I say this only in hopes that no family feels badly when they pick up their pet’s bones and see indications of problems they may not have been aware of.

Pets who pass away after a traumatic event may have internal damage that is impossible to know in advance. I am usually able to reconstruct and repair bones if you don’t want to see evidence of that damage, but it depends on the circumstances. I take repairs on a case-by-case basis and will give you my best honest assessment of what I can do.

How do I prepare my pet for bone cleaning?

All you need to do after your pet passes is to arrange to bring him or her to my shop and try to keep them in a cool place until you can. If you can’t bring your pet in within a day or so, try to arrange to have your pet frozen. If you can’t do that at home, your vet may be able to help, or ask a friend with a chest freezer. Bones don’t develop damage quickly, so if your pet’s body has started to have an odor or you find them a while after they have passed, it is still possible to have the bones cleaned without any issue. My suggestions here are mainly because I wouldn’t want you to have to see your pet in a state of decay, but circumstances happen where that may be unavoidable. I have never turned anyone away from my bone cleaning services because of odor or decay.

My pet has been buried – can you still clean the bones?

If you would like to exhume your pet after burial and have the bones cleaned, this is usually possible but the results are difficult to predict. There are too many variables (container type if any, time passed, soil type, water content, pH, mineral content, etc.) to guarantee any specific result. The most common problem is mineral staining that cannot be safely removed, or brittle, flaking bone. Because buried bones are more difficult to work with and require some special attention, there are additional charges for exhumed pets.