The moon has long been associated with mystery and wonder. It controls our ocean tides, currents and more. Full moons have a long history of impacting human behavior with increased hospital visits and unusual behavior that ranges from increased sleepwalking to violent fits. But how does it impact our pets? 

In a 2007 study, veterinarians studied 11,940 cases at the Colorado State University Veterinary Medical Center. They discovered that the risk of emergency room visits are 23% higher for cats and 28% higher for dogs on days surrounding full moons.

How Does The Full Moon Impact Your Dog?

We also know that pets are much more active on the days surrounding the full moon, as are humans. But, does this mean that animals are more active because there is more light? Or are they more active due to some “moon” influence? 

To answer those questions, it helps to look at the behavior of wildlife. A 2011 study in PLOS ONE journal found that African lions are more likely to attack and kill humans in the days immediately after a full moon. 

“African lions are as sensitive to moonlight when hunting humans as when hunting herbivores and that lions are most dangerous to humans when the moon is faint or below the horizon. At night, people are most active between dusk and 10:00 pm, thus most lion attacks occur in the first weeks following the full moon (when the moon rises at least an hour after sunset). Consequently, the full moon is a reliable indicator of impending danger, perhaps helping to explain why the full moon has been the subject of so many myths and misconceptions.”

Other studies suggest that prey animals are much less active on nights surrounding full moons, likely due to their increased visibility. Traditionally, animals stay in their burrows on full moons so as not to be easily spotted. Even rattlesnakes, which prefer to be out hunting will stay in their burrows on full moons so birds cannot easily spot them. 

What is out walking around? Humans – which may account for the increase in lion attacks… 

We may never be able to identify the impact of the moon on us, wildlife or our dogs. But, we would love to hear your thoughts on the topic! How do your dogs respond to full moons?  Do you find yourself at the veterinarian more often? Do they peacefully sleep through the night? Do they want to be outside more often? Let us know! 

  1. Veterinary Medical Center, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
  2.  Packer C, Swanson A, Ikanda D, Kushnir H (2011) Fear of Darkness, the Full Moon and the Nocturnal Ecology of African Lions. PLoS ONE 6(7): e22285. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0022285