Does your dog get a little antsy when there is a full moon out? How about your cat’s inexplicable howling? The full moon may affect our four-legged friends and scientists are trying to figure out why.
A study reported in the July 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association finds emergency room visits for cats and dogs increase during or near the full moon. Dr. Raegan Wells, a veterinarian, and researchers studied 11,940 cases at the Colorado State University Veterinary Medical Center. They found the risk of emergency room visits to be 23% higher for cats and 28% higher for dogs on days near full moons.
The types of emergencies ranged from cardiac arrest to epileptic seizures and trauma, and the increase was most pronounced during the moon’s three fullest stages - waxing gibbous, full and waning gibbous.
“If you talk to any person, from kennel help, nurse, front-desk person to doctor, you frequently hear the comment on a busy night, ‘Gee, is it a full moon?’ ” said Wells, who is an emergency and critical care medicine resident in the Department of Clinical Sciences at the university. “There is the belief that things are busier on full-moon nights.”
“While the results of our retrospective study indicate that there is an increased likelihood of emergency room visits on the days surrounding a full moon, it is difficult to interpret the clinical significance of these findings,” Wells writes. “Many studies have investigated the effect of the moon on human nature, behavior and various medical problems, with evidence both supporting and refuting the effect.”
While the increase in percentages seem high, the correlation to an actual number of animals is actually quite low. The university’s Veterinary Medical Center’s critical care unit may see a few cats and a few dogs on a night without a full moon, and data showed an increase by about one cat or one dog during fuller moon days.
From press release:
In addition, data did not indicate that there was an increase in aggressive behavior in pets during a full moon. For example, there was not a measurable increase in injuries from dogs acting aggressively.
The study notes the potential explanations for an increased number of visits during a full moon, but the data does not provide conclusive results. For example, one theory was that full moons provide increased luminosity, which may correlate to an expected increase in nocturnal hunting rates among cats. If so, felines may be injured more often during these evenings. However, more feline cases related to trauma were not evident in the data.