Do Dogs React to a Full Moon?

There are many anecdotal reports of how the full moon affects people, and emergency personnel tend to back up these stories. Police officers and nurses both claim that there are more incidents where people act in bizarre ways when the sky is bright with the full moon. The term "lunatic" comes from the Latin word "luna" meaning "moon". One theory as to why this happens is that the moon influences the tides, and as our bodies contain a lot of water, it can influence us too. Another is that there are more positive ions in the air which affect our behavior. Are our pet dogs similarly affected by the phases of the moon?

Some dog owners feel that their dog does indeed behave differently during a full moon. They may be more restless or bark more often. Others think that there is no difference at all in how their dog acts. When a number of dog owners were asked if they had noticed any odd behaviors from their dog during a full moon, over 40% said no, and 28% were unsure. Those figures aren't enough to prove anything at all.

Speaking of proof, there is no real scientific proof that the full moon has any effect on dog behavior. Any studies that have been done are contradictory. For example, there were two studies published in a medical journal in the United Kingdom in the year 2000. These studies looked at whether there were a higher number of people bitten by dogs and admitted to hospital when the moon was full, when compared to other moon phases. One study conducted in England found that there was a greater chance of being bitten by a dog during the full moon. The other study, which was conducted in Australia, found that there was no difference in how many people were bitten by dogs whether the moon was full or not.

Just to confuse the issue, a Colorado veterinarian then looked at the number of dogs and cats taken to the University's vet clinic over a period of about 10 years. She found that the risk of an animal needing emergency care during the full moon was around 25% higher than at any other time in the month.

Why would dog owners think their dog behaved differently during a full moon? The explanation may be fairly simple. The bright light may make it easier to notice wandering cats or wildlife which would make your dog agitated or bark more.

The reality is that it is very unlikely that the full moon has any effect on your dog's behavior. If something unusual happens and there is a full moon, you may be likely to link the two. However, if that unusual behavior happens when the moon is in a different phase, you probably won't even pay attention to what's happening in the sky at all.

There is no proven reason for behavioral changes in people or animals during a full moon. If you do notice any such changes, it is very likely to be just coincidence.