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Posted on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 5:54 a.m.

Is there a connection between lunar phases and seizures in pets?

By Lorrie Shaw


flickr photo by MSVG

There has been a long-standing theory held by some that may sound unusual, but it had become enough of an issue to have some respected researchers in the field of veterinary neurology to take it under advisement.

The issue at hand: Do pets with epilepsy have more seizures during a full moon — or at any specific lunar phase at all?

The concept that the moon and lunar phases are somehow connected to increased rates of peculiar behavior, crime and the like has been around for what seems like forever.

Even Hollywood has had a hand in portraying the correlation between things like the full moon and strange behavior, also referred to as lunar lunacy.

Seizures in pets can be caused by things like a fungal infection, poisoning, a malformation or injury of the skull, parasites or even blood sugar spikes (diabetes) can be a culprit.

Seizure activity that happens for no known reason can be distressing, but one common thread seems to be at the center — breed. Beagles, Irish Setters, Siberian Huskies, Springer Spaniels, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds have been found to have a predominance to have them.

Click here to read more about seizures in pets.

Regardless of the onset or cause, the episodes should be monitored and managed by a veterinarian.

With all of the buzz around whether or not the moon has any bearing on when pets have seizures, three researchers decided to put an eight-year study into place to gain some insight into the theory.

Laura Browand-Stainback
, DVM, Donald Levesque, DVM, DACVIM of Veterinary Neurological Center in Las Vegas and Matthew McBee, PhD of Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill studied 211 cats and dogs with idiopathic epilepsy beginning in 2000.

The findings, which were published in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association were to many, were not all that surprising: lunar phases seem to have no bearing on influencing a pet's seizures.

It does appear to be an urban legend, after all.

Click here to read an abstract of the study.

Does your pet have seizures that have been deemed idiopathic (an unknown cause)?

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for Catch her daily dog walking and pet sitting adventures or email her directly and subscribe to's email newsletters.


Sarah Rigg

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

This article from the Skeptic's Dictionary does a pretty good job of explaining what kind of lunar effects have been debunked (a LOT!) and why the moon's very weak pull is not likely to affect animal or human behavior. Quote: "Many people seem to think that since the moon affects the ocean's tides, it must be so powerful that it affects the human body as well. The lunar force is actually a very weak tidal force. A mother holding her child "will exert 12 million times as much tidal force on her child as the moon" (Kelly et al., 1996: 25)."