For a lot of people, the moon can be something of a source of comfort. It’s always there, softening the night, guiding the oceans, and changing its form. For others, they only notice when it’s a new moon and they can’t find their car keys in the dark. Where the heck is the moon when you need it?
Regardless of which group you fall into, it turns out that as a veterinary professional you may want to start paying closer attention to the moon and its cycles.
The case for adding “moon phase” to your SOAP.
Let’s back up. Not too long ago we learned that this month there will be a Super Blood Wolf Moon. If that sounds creepy, you’re probably like us and either thankful it didn’t fall on Halloween or concerned that this is setting an unfortunate tone for 2019. Regardless, we did some research and found that in North America, a January full moon is called a Wolf Moon. Being animal lovers, we were already intrigued. A supermoon is a phenomenon where the moon is particularly close to earth, appearing much larger than normal. And a Blood Moon is another name for a total lunar eclipse, where the moon is completely shadowed by the earth and appears reddish in color. So, on January 20th and 21st, most of North and South America and Western Europe will get the treat of viewing a Super Blood Wolf Moon.
Cool, huh? Or, rather, bloody cool.
While we contemplated what this triple lunar event could mean (alien invasion, everyone gets superpowers, and absolutely nothing were our top three hypotheses), it got us thinking about lunar events in general. If we looked at our claims data, would we see more accidents happening on or near the full moon? Our thought was that we just might. So, we decided to take a look.
What we found was rather illuminating.
Working closely with our data scientists, we started by examining all accident claims in 2017 and 2018 and the 21 moon phases that occurred during that time. This included last quarter, new moon, full moon, and first quarter. Then, realizing we had no idea what those mean, we took a quick break to brush up on our astronomy knowledge. We found some great explanations here, in case you could also use a brush-up.
Next, we crunched the numbers. In the two days approaching a full moon, we see about a 5% decrease in accidents overall when compared to other moon phases. Okay, that’s pretty enlightening. Then we noticed that the day before the start of a full moon sees the lowest number of accidents, on average. Now we know how the oceans feel: totally pulled in. As it turns out when looking at the day of and three days following a full moon, we see between a 1.8% and 4% increase in pets with accident claims, depending on the moon phase to which we compare. For instance, compared to the last quarter moon phase, there is a 4% increase in pets with accident claims. And compared to the first quarter phase, there is a 1.8% increase. That’s just downright loony.
So, our hypothesis was more or less correct! We do see a bit of an increase in accident claims in the few days following a full moon.
While these numbers aren’t drastic, it sheds some light on the possible connection between moon phases and accidents occurring to pets. Adding “moon phase” to your SOAP may be a bit of a reach yet, but the numbers show that the moon can indicate an increase or decrease in accident-related injuries, even if it’s small. At the very least, it can’t hurt to keep a closer eye on our furry friends around a full moon. And, with a Super Blood Wolf Moon around the corner, you never know what could happen.