According to the latest research, it's not werewolves running amok during full moons—it’s cats and dogs. The new study suggests that pets get into more mischief and are injured more often during certain phases of the lunar cycle, particularly when the moon is fullest.
The study, authored by Raegan Wells, DVM, and her colleagues at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, revealed a link between an increase in emergency room visits for dogs and cats during days when the moon is at or near its fullest.
Wells said this is the first time the lunar cycle's relationship to emergency veterinary medicine has been studied. The study, titled "Canine and feline emergency room visits and the lunar cycle,” appears in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The data, compiled from case histories of 11,940 dogs and cats treated at the university's Veterinary Medical Center, indicates that the risk of emergencies on fuller moon days was 23 percent greater in cats and 28 percent greater in dogs when compared with other days. 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. "There is the belief that things are busier on full-moon nights."
Of course, superstition alone does not make for good science, but this research indicates that long held belief may be based in fact. But despite the baffling results, Wells doesn't know what sort of connection is at play here.
Modern studies have associated the full Moon with insanity, traffic accidents, increased aggression, unintentional poisonings and absenteeism, and the female menstrual cycle, but many of the connections are thin and vary widely from study to study.
"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.
Historically there has been a widespread belief that a full moon can effect people and animals causing them to act strangely. In fact, the word ‘Lunatic’ came about due to the belief that the Moon can make one mad.
But just what is behind the pet emergency and full moon correlation, however, is not at all clear. One theory is that since there’s more light out, people and their pets may be more likely to be out getting into mischief. So, what does all this mean for pet owners?
"It serves as a good reminder to remain cognizant of your pet's environment and overall health status, and to avoid situations that would put them in harm's way," Wells said.
This advice includes keeping a closer eye on them near the full moon, when their likelihood of injury explicable peaks.
Posted by Rebecca Sato