Coping with HSP Dog Owner Grief: A Guide for Highly Sensitive Pet Parents

Hope to cope with dog owner grief as a highly sensitive person (HSP)


Katie Abendroth


a bench in the middle of a snowy forest
a bench in the middle of a snowy forest

Coping with Dog Owner Grief as a highly sensitive person (HSP)

Losing your soulmate pet hurts no matter who you are, but especially for a highly sensitive person (HSP).

As empathetic individuals, HSP dog owner grief feels even more profound due to the strong bonds we form with our pets.

In this article, I’ll explore the unique challenges that HSP dog owners face when dealing with pet grief, and provide valuable tips and insights to help you navigate this journey.

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Are you a highly sensitive person (HSP)? Me too!

Highly sensitive people (HSPs) and more empaths experience emotions intensely, and their connection with their pets is no exception.

According to, HSPs connect deeply with pets because they are not draining, and offer us constant loyalty and comfort. HSPS tend to experience emotions deeply, process thoughts and feelings about events saliently, and are ardent animal lovers.

Dogs, with their unconditional love and loyalty, often become a part of our life and identity.

They provide comfort, companionship, and emotional support. When a beloved dog passes away, HSPs dog owner grief may be overwhelming as we struggle to cope with the loss.

Common Challenges with HSP Dog Owner Grief

As an HSP, you may feel profound sadness, guilt, and despair following the loss of your pet. I previously wrote about grief after rehoming a pet, and remember thinking that nobody seemed to understand the depth of my pain.

Even when our pet fish died, I felt deep sadness about their life ending, but nothing compares to dog loss. As a grieving pet parent, I have felt the following:

Difficulty Processing the Loss

During HSP dog owner grief, you may find it impossible to accept the reality of your pet’s death. You may dwell on memories, making it harder to move forward. If your kids are struggling with grief, these resources may be helpful.

Heightened Sensitivity to Environment

Everyday reminders of your pet, such as dog toys, beds, or familiar walking routes, can trigger intense emotional reactions, prolonging your grief.

Relationship Challenges

Pet loss can strain relationships with family members or friends who may not understand the depth of your pain. After we rehomed a beloved dog, I remember feeling isolated and angry at times.

Even though it was hard for others to understand my pain, it was equally hard for me to understand why they weren’t grieving more.

Fearing Future Loss

HSPs may be afraid to form bonds with new pets, fearing the pain of potential future losses. This was definitely true for me, when we got a puppy soon after rehoming my soulmate pet.

I recommend waiting at least 6 months before getting another pet after a profound loss, to give yourself time to grieve.

Tips for Coping with HSP Dog Owner Grief

Expect to grieve more than others

As explained here, HSP dog owner grief may include feelings of PTSD if the loss was traumatic. Euthanasia is not always peaceful, and you may struggle with this experience.

I signed up for Audible, unlimited audiobooks and podcasts, and found excellent grief resources I could listen to in the privacy of my car. You can get a free trial to start Audible here.

Create a legacy keepsake

Create a meaningful tribute to your pet, such as a photo collage, memorial garden, or personalized keepsake.

This serves as a tangible reminder of your pet. My favorite keepsake is this pet paw collage on canvas. It is the MOST beautiful pet reminder I have found, and great quality.

Find online support

I created the page @hope_after_pet_loss on Instagram and the website to support pet owners who are grieving.

Find a safe space to connect with others and get tips for healing. Other wonderful Instagram creators who support pet loss are @stig_petbereavement, @8ightinfinity, @honoringouranimals, and @petlossdoctor.

Resist Inertia

After a few days, resist the urge to isolate, stay in bed, or stop exercising. Reach out to fellow HSPs, online support groups, or a licensed therapist who can offer understanding.

If you feel like you have no one to talk to, sign up for a 1:1 listening session with me. or join our monthly small group support meeting.

These options let you share stories about your pet, express feelings in a non-judgemental zone, and explore self-care ideas. Sharing your feelings with others who really “get it” can make all the difference.

Practice Self-Care

Engage in activities that nurture your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, such as meditation, journaling, coloring, yoga, or nature baths. Prioritize self-compassion and self-care as you navigate the grieving process.

Consider Pet Sitting or Volunteering

If it is too soon to welcome a new pet, you can still connect with animals in the community. I started volunteering as a dog sitter for therapy dogs at Canine Companions for Independence to blend my love of speech therapy and dogs. Do not feel like you have to rush into getting another pet.

Concluding Thoughts on HSP Dog Owner Grief

Losing a beloved dog is a deeply personal experience, especially for HSP pet parents. By respecting your emotions, seeking support from others, and engaging in self-care, you can navigate the grieving process with resilience.

While the pain of loss may never fully disappear, you can find comfort in fond memories and the love shared with your dog. Remember, you are not alone in your grief, and there is hope after pet loss.

Recommended Resources:

  1. Audible Free Trial

  2. Personalized Paw Print Photo Collage

  3. 1:1 Listening Session

  4. Monthly pet loss support group