Do You Have a “Highly Sensitive Pet”?

Do You Have a “Highly Sensitive Pet”?

If your canine or cat appears overreactive, anxious, or simply overwhelmed, she could also be a “extremely delicate pet”. Here’s find out how to inform, and what you are able to do to assist her navigate the world with much less stress.

Back in 1996, when Dr. Elaine Aron’s e-book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, was launched, you would virtually hear the collective sigh of reduction. Her analysis resonated with folks world wide who believed there was one thing incorrect with them as a result of they felt issues too deeply or cried too simply. On the opposite, the pioneering psychologist discovered that the trait of excessive sensitivity is innate and regular, occurring in 15% to twenty% of the inhabitants. Now, this trait can be being recognized in a variety of animal species, together with our canines and cats. Here’s what meaning, and find out how to inform in case you might need a “extremely delicate pet.”


According to Dr. Aron, the extremely delicate particular person (HSP) “has a delicate nervous system, is conscious of subtleties in his/her environment, and is extra simply overwhelmed when in a extremely stimulating setting.” In scientific phrases, this trait is called sensory-processing sensitivity.

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For higher or worse, extremely delicate persons are extraordinarily tuned in to the world round them. Here are the 4 hallmarks of excessive sensitivity:

  1. Depth of processing
  2. Susceptibility to overstimulation
  3. Emotional and empathetic
  4. Sensitive to subtleties

Not lengthy after Dr. Aron’s e-book was revealed, biologists started figuring out the trait of excessive sensitivity in additional than 100 different animal species (to this point), from canines, cats, and horses to wild creatures akin to fish, monkeys, and birds.


Often misunderstood, like their human counterparts, “extremely delicate pets” could also be labeled as shy, anxious, fearful or neurotic as a result of they like to proceed with warning by life.

The manner we deal with these animals can enhance or lower their reactivity. For instance, in her e-book The Highly Sensitive Dog: Making Life Easier for These Wonderful Dogs, veterinarian Dr. Christine King recollects how she would turn into extremely reactive when she first realized her adopted canine, Miss Tiger Lilly, was dog-aggressive in sure conditions.

“My anticipation of bother didn’t assist issues, and my reactiveness solely served to amplify the issue within the second and make such issues extra probably sooner or later,” she writes. “Highly delicate pets, like extremely delicate folks, are all too steadily misunderstood and thus mishandled, which tends to solely enhance the sensitivity and make the problem even worse.”

Not surprisingly, harsh, indignant phrases or power may have a destructive impression on a canine or cat with excessive sensitivity. On the opposite hand, reward, encouragement, belief and different constructive actions will assist empower her by making her really feel higher and calmer.


The world can really feel like a harsh place to these born with excessive sensitivity. If you assume you might need a “extremely delicate pet,” it’s a good suggestion to first take her to the vet to verify she doesn’t have any bodily issues that could possibly be contributing to her conduct. If she doesn’t, then listed here are some ideas to assist her cope and really feel much less pressured:

  1. Build secure and loving social bonds to create a way of safety and belonging.
  2. Cultivate a peaceful, quiet residence setting.
  3. Allow your canine or cat time to unwind and withdraw as wanted.
  4. Calm your self earlier than coping with your animal, and keep within the second. (Remember how tuned in she is to you, and don’t anticipate bother).
  5. Talk calmly and positively to your animal. Dr. King discovered it useful to visualise what she was attempting to speak to her canine.
  6. Be constant and enthusiastic in your reward; and calm and delicate when discouraging undesirable conduct, akin to pointless barking or growling.

When coping with your “extremely delicate pet,” comply with this recommendation from Dr. King: “Respect and relish the social bonds between…you, prioritize a way of security and belonging (in each instructions), and be constant and dependable in order that your [animal] learns to belief the bonds you two have created, even whenever you’re not there.”

“Highly delicate pets” make great companions. Emotional and empathetic, they bond deeply with their human households and different trusted folks and animals. Yet even at the moment, the trait of excessive sensitivity remains to be simply missed or misunderstood. So earlier than you label Rover an “over-reactor” or dismiss Fluffy as a “fraidy cat,” think about the chance that your animal companion was born extremely delicate. Cultivate a peaceful, quiet residence setting.


Whether two-legged or four-legged — furry, feathered or finned — extremely delicate beings are merely wired in another way. Research reveals their brains course of sensory enter extra deeply than their less-sensitive counterparts.

The defining trait of the extremely delicate is a eager consciousness of subtleties within the setting — issues more likely to go unnoticed by others. Some scientists theorize this skill might assist a species survive. Much like an early warning system, the extremely delicate particular person’s fine-tuned skill to understand and react to hazard might alert the remainder of the group, pack or herd to imminent hazard.

But there’s a draw back to being on “excessive alert” on a regular basis. The “extremely delicate pet”, for instance, tends to startle simply and should shortly turn into overwhelmed by loud noises and new sights, adjustments in routine, and the extreme feelings from folks or different animals round them. They might also have a larger reactivity to starvation and ache and take longer to relax than different canines and cats would.

Celeste Huttes is a contract author specializing in enterprise communications — however she finds it way more enjoyable to write down about animals! When she’s not writing, Celeste enjoys yoga, touring, and high quality time with household, associates and animals. Two of her favourite four-leggeds — Emmy the Siamese cat and Zoey, a poodle-beagle combine — reside together with her in Illinois.

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