Is the secret to happiness hidden within our pets?

happy-boy-and-dog

Some consider happiness to be the ultimate goal in life. The feeling of happiness has been studied and evaluated to find out why some people seem happy while others do not. Researchers set out to evaluate whether happiness is determined by genes, by life circumstances, or if it’s simply a choice that one makes. While many of these tests seem to fall short of actually answering why a person becomes happy, the conclusion that many of these tests did reach is that happy people do live longer–up to a decade longer than unhappy people. The immune system functions better, the central nervous system is healthier, there are lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and the heart beats at a lower rate in people who describe themselves as being happy.

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Is happiness dependent upon having money? Being in good health? Having a good job? Following a particular religion? Being virtuous? Accumulating things? Giving things away? Or is it as Aristotle claimed, that the function of our existence is to reason, and performing this function well brings happiness? Al-Ghazali, a philosopher and thinker who lived around nine hundred years ago, wrote down specific instructions to achieving happiness. These spiritual steps that he was inspired to write are still practiced by many people around the world today.

Animals, on the other hand, lack the ability to reason like humans and are unable to do studies and read the results of these studies; yet, many of them seem happy most of the time. My dog Duke wags his tail in delight from the moment he wakes up until he goes to sleep. A few years back, Duke got very ill and could barely walk or eat. We took him to the veterinarian who told us that the compassionate thing to do was to put him down. We said our goodbyes and on the way into the vet’s office he miraculously began improving. Now, a year later, he is still alive and doing extremely well. The most amazing part of this whole event is that Duke seemed happy throughout the whole thing. His tail was wagging and he had that look on his face that said “I’m doing okay and I’m pretty happy – so stop worrying!”

Since all the human research on happiness seems to focus on things that happy people do or have, I would like to use Duke as an example of things NOT to do, if you are trying to achieve happiness (at least the kind of tail-wagging happiness that Duke is always experiencing). Duke does not smoke, drink coffee, or do any drugs. He does not worry about money, he does not get resentful, he doesn’t worry about time and getting older, and he doesn’t worry about his weight, his appearance, or what others think about him.

Even though dogs and cats seem to be psychologically and physically built to withstand stress while remaining happy, there a few things we can do as pet owners to help ensure that our furry friends remain healthy for as long as possible. First off, ensuring that your pet gets the highest quality food (such as Wysong Epigen, Royal Canin, or Taste of the Wild) will keep your pet’s body functioning at its best and keep the digestive tract healthy and functioning well. A well-functioning digestive tract is crucial for immune system health, and adigestive enzyme with probiotics will help support your pet’s overall health. Giving anOmega 3 supplement daily can help maintain the health of the skin, coat, joints, eyes, brain, and heart. A daily multivitamin can also benefit the pet by preventing any one particular vitamin from becoming deficient, as well as keeping metabolism and body functions such as the immune system working at its best.

Dogs and cats don’t complain, and when they appear happy we may assume that all is well. In fact, dogs and especially cats are expert at hiding signs of illness. This constant bias towards happiness and appearing well could become problematic if something is actually wrong with your pet’s health. In order to diagnose a problem before it gets out of hand and more difficult to correct, it is very important to make regular checkup appointments with the veterinarian. As always, if you have any medication related question please call one of your1800PetMeds pharmacists who will be happy to help answer those for you.

The bottom line is that if we make every effort to keep our pets “smiling” and wagging their tails for as long as possible, there is the real possibility that some of that happiness becomes infectious and makes us happy. Getting “infected” with happiness sure beats having to do all the work and putting in all the efforts that science has still not been able to prove or disprove anyway.

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