We've all heard that the full moon makes people do weird things. But does the moon affect our dogs? While we don't have concrete scientific studies to back up the idea that a dog's behavior shifts with the phases of the moon, there is a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence suggesting this might be the case.
Dog Professionals Often Say the Moon Impacts Behavior
Many dog owners report changes in their pets' behavior during a full moon. Veterinarians and animal shelters often share stories of seeing more activity or unusual behaviors in dogs during this lunar phase.
More Veterinary Visits During Full Moons
A research study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association took a deep look at how a full moon can affect our dogs and cats. 11,940 dogs and cats were involved in the 11-year study. Researchers found there was a significant difference in the number of veterinary visits on nights with a full moon compared to others; cats and dogs were both over 20% higher!
One study is not enough to make scientific claims, but if more studies are done, we can gain more insight.
A Veterinary Clinic's Thoughts On Pet Injuries During Full Moons
According to Creature Comfort Clinic, an in-home veterinary service, "I firmly believe in the unwritten rule of what I like to call 'Full Moon Fever.' They went on to say, "The calls typically increase, and overall, the clinic (or house call service) is consistently busier. Furthermore, usually there is an increase of oddities — including pet behavior and medical cases."
Why Would the Moon Affect Dogs?
The moon has a big impact on Earth, mainly because of the way it, the Earth, and the sun pull on each other with their gravity. This pulling affects how ocean currents move and how tides rise and fall, which is really important for keeping things balanced in the ocean. The different phases of the moon also change the tides.
For example, when there's a full moon, the Earth, moon, and sun line up in a way that causes unusually high tides. These high tides caused by the moon can change things along the coast, affect how ships navigate, and even change the weather. But connections between the moon and human behavior or bodies is dubious at best.
So Why Would a Full Moon Increase Veterinary Visits?
A popular theory about why we might notice different behaviors in our pets during a full moon is related to how we, as pet owners, behave. When there's a full moon, it's much brighter outside at night compared to other phases of the moon. This extra light might encourage pet owners to spend more time outside with their pets.
Increased Activity During Full Moons
Even though a full moon makes it brighter outside, it's still not as clear as daylight. This reduced visibility can sometimes lead to more accidents or injuries. Even with a full moon, dogs may not see an obstacle in the dark and could run into it. Or, pet owners might not spot a potential hazard while walking their dog, like an uneven path.
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Another potential explanation is the human tendency toward confirmation bias, or our brain's natural tendency to collect information that confirms a theory we have and to disregard information that contradicts. For example, veterinarians might hear that full moons bring on "crazier" dog injuries, so therefor remember more clearly the ones that happen on full moons.
Is Your Dog Restless During a Full Moon?
I have personally, through my experience as a canine behaviorist, heard a handful of my clients state that the full moon affected their dog's behavior. Some form of restlessness was generally reported, whether it was the dog barking more, pacing more, or being more clingy than normal.
I'm not sure if I personally believe the moon shifts their behavior or not, but either way, there are some things you can do to help your dog calm down. Take a look at the calendar and watch for the full moon nights. On those days and evenings, give your dog some extra time outside (or inside) to exercise. More exercise will help tire them out for bedtime.
More Research is Needed
Honestly, this is all based on opinion right now. Since it hasn't been extensively studied, we can't really support any claims with science. Just because we don't have scientific proof, though, doesn't mean there aren't changes in our dog's behavior. We'll just have to see if more scientists do research on the topic and, until then, be patient and handle our dogs' behavior accordingly.