Effects of Full Moons on Our Pets
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 that report, 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.
“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
Cats, dogs and other domestic creatures tend to be much more active on nights with full moons.
Some believe this is due to our pets increased visibility on full moons. Contrary to popular belief, dogs and cats do not have perfect vision on dark nights (although they do have slightly better vision than us). The moon’s extra light may encourage them to do more escapes from the yard or house and roam around more often than normal.
Wildlife is Less Active
One study suggests that predators (like rattlesnakes) are less active on full moons because their prey is less active.
Rabbits, mice, and other small creatures tend to stay hidden during full moons (they know that the extra light means that are more visible and more likely to be someone’s dinner if they’re out and about).
This means, predators will not normally waste time hunting on full moons. Unless…
More Attacks on Humans? Maybe…
Some studies suggest that lions and other wildlife are 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…
The number of humans attacked on full moons may just be due to the fact that humans also take advantage of the extra light and move around more. Since a lion (or other predator’s) usual prey is smart enough to be hidden during full moons, there are more humans attacked. Humans tend to forget that we were originally prey!
Legend of the Inca
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 who attack have some ancient memory of their time with the Incan? Maybe…
Fun Halloween Reading
By the way, if you’re looking for a fun read, be sure to check out Shepherd’s Moon. 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.
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…