A couple of years ago, researchers at Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) thought it might be interesting to see if the more than half a million policies’ worth of claims data could predict the most dangerous days of the year for our pets. What they found, although admittedly anecdotal in nature, makes a good deal of sense: pet health risks are higher in warmer months, when pets and people are more active and more exposed to risk factors, and around holidays, when changes of routine can lead to accidents.
Holidays Can Be Hazardous
The worst day of the week? Monday, both in 2010 and 2013. That’s understandable: General-practice veterinarians aren’t typically open on Sundays, which means many pets won’t get treated until Monday, especially if emergency care isn’t available or possible.
The most dangerous days of the year are often after a holiday, for the same reason Mondays are busy: If at all possible, people wait until after a holiday to take their injured pets to the vet’s office. The days after Labor Day, Memorial Day and Easter were all in the top 10, and the days after Memorial Day and Easter were again near the top in 2013.
Surprisingly, the Fourth of July wasn’t in the top 10 for either year. Veterinarians know that the noise of the day is frightening to many pets, and shelters report more lost cats and dogs after the holiday. These pets may be running scared, but they’re not ending up at the veterinarian’s office with injuries.
Warmer months are more dangerous, with April, May, June, July and August taking five of the top six slots. The safest month? December, with about one-quarter the number of accidents reported compared to the warmer months.
Full Moon Menace a Myth?
We’ve all heard that crazy things happen when the moon is full, but apparently not to pet: Out of a dozen full moons in 2013, only those in the warmer months showed a bump in hospital the day after, and only the one in July 2013 broke the top 10. Since warmer months are more dangerous overall, that’s not a surprise. And what about Friday the 13th? Neither of the two Fridays in 2013 that also happened to fall on the 13th resulted in any remarkable rise in accidents.
What’s the takeaway? While keeping your pet at home on days with potentially higher risk isn’t really necessary, being aware that warmer months and holidays can be more hazardous isn’t a bad thing. It’s also advisable to know who to call when your regular vet isn’t available. When your pet is injured, he needs help now — not tomorrow. Knowing your emergency care options is an essential part of being a responsible, caring pet parent.