CSU Study Shows Lunar Cycle May Be Linked To More Veterinary Visits
A new study suggests that dogs and cats may get into more medical mischief during certain phases of the lunar cycle. The study, authored by Dr. Raegan Wells, a veterinarian, and her colleagues at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, shows a possible link between an increase in emergency room visits for dogs and cats during days when the moon is at or near its fullest.
The data, compiled from 10 years of nearly 12,000 case histories of dogs and cats treated at the university's James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, 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.
Dr. 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: 11,940 cases (1992-2002)," appears in the July 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
"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 Dr. Wells, who is an emergency and critical care medicine resident in the Department of Clinical Sciences. "There is the belief that things are busier on full-moon nights."
Just what is behind the correlation, however, isn't clear.
"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," Dr. Wells wrote in the article. "Many studies have investigated the effect of the moon on human nature, behavior and various medical problems, with evidence both supporting and refuting the effect."
Dr. Wells cautions that, while the percentage of increase in emergencies during fuller moon days may be large, the correlation to an actual number of animals is actually quite low. The hospital’s critical care unit may see a few cats and a few dogs on a night without a full moon, and data showed an increase by about one cat or one dog during fuller moon days.