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We always hear stories about how full moons bring out the crazy in people. Weird things tend to happen during full moons, and have since the dawn of time. It's the time of Werewolves and vampires, lunacy and as Aristotle put it, our "moist brains" that are impacted by the lunar cycles.

But how does it effect our pets?

The truth is, full moons have varying effects on our domestic dogs and cats and we're not totally sure why they tend to be more active, occasionally more aggressive, and often likely to visit the ER.

But, here's what we do know...

More Visits to the Emergency Room

A 2007 study, “Canine and Feline Emergency Room Visits and the Lunar Cycle,” was the first of its kind and was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. In it, veterinarians studied 11,940 cases at the Colorado State University Veterinary Medical Center. They discovered that the risk of emergency room visits to be 23 percent higher for cats and 28 percent higher for dogs on days surrounding full moons.

The reasons for this anomaly were not really identified. It could be people tend to take pets out more during the full moon, raising the odds of an injury, or perhaps something else is at work — the study did not determine a cause. Dogs and cats tend to see the veterinarian more often during full moons. Colorado State University Medical Center did a study of 11,940 cases and discovered that emergency room visits tend to be 23 percent higher for cats and 28% higher for dogs on days around the full moon. Why the sudden increase? No one can say for sure. Perhaps it's because owners tend to be more active during full moons or because animals are more active.

“It is the very error of the moon. She comes more near the earth than she was wont. And makes men mad.”

William Shakespeare, Othello

Pets are More Active, Wildlife Less Active

Cats, dogs and other crepuscular creatures tend to be much more active on nights with full moons. Perhaps that is due to increased visibility. Contrary to popular belief, dogs and cats do not have perfect vision on dark nights (although they do have slightly better vision than us).

One study suggests that predators (like dogs and cats) are less active on nights with a full moon because their prey is less active. Rabbits, mice, and other small creatures tend to stay hidden during full moons (largely because they are likely to be dinner if they're out and about). This means, predators will not normally waste time hunting on full moons. 


More Attacks? Maybe.

Some studies suggest that wildlife is more active on full moons and more attacks on humans occur during the full moon (see Effects of the Moon on Animals).  But that's not necessarily true. Since humans spend full moons being more active, it could be that they take advantage of anyone out moving around (since their typical prey stays hidden during full moons) and so there are more humans attacked. Personally, we think this is the most likely explanation. (Humans tend to forget we were originally prey and not predators!)

Maybe it was due to the beatings?

The Inca believed that a jaguar attacked and ate the moon (which explains why the moon is rusty-colored) and if that happened, the jaguar would fall to the ground and eat people. To prevent this moon - "jaguar falling from the sky and eating people" attack, they would shake their spears at the moon and make lots of noise, often beating their dogs to make them howl and bark (which is pretty awful).

Maybe dogs are just remembering the times they spent with the Incans?

Just because...

By the way, if you're looking for a fun read, be sure to check out Shepherd's Moon. This is my novel and I hope you'll support the pack by checking it out! It makes for a great Halloween read if you're an animal lover (and action adventure - fantasy enthusiast!). Here's the short description:

It's taken twelve years to earn the official title of Shepherd but she's now mostly trained, fairly effective, and the first female in over two centuries to hold the position as protector of animals.
All animals... The Territorial Council isn't thrilled with her new title of Shepherd, but they don't have any more control over the appointment than they have over her. All they can really do is wait for her to screw something up - which Alex is determined not to do. Everything changes when a chance encounter with a genetically modified Shifter leaves Alex shaken and initiates a quest to locate its maker.Despite years of training, Alex finds herself woefully unprepared to tackle the new threat.
To make matters worse, she must work with a mysterious man who's been trying to kill her since the day they met...

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Author: stacymantle
About the Author

Stacy Mantle is a freelance writer who currently resides in the southwestern deserts of Arizona with a few dogs, several cats, and a very understanding husband. She is a regular contributor to Pet Age Magazine, Catster, Animal Behavior College, and of course, PetsWeekly. Many of her stories and articles have been translated into several languages, and now reach an international audience. She is also the author of a bestselling urban fantasy/thriller, Shepherd's Moon; a humor book entitled, Conquering the Food Chain: Living Amongst Animals (Without Becoming One), and a line of Educational Activity Books for children.

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