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Dog running zoomies

The essentials

  • Zoomies can mean different things — Your pet can be feeling happy, experiencing anxiety, or simply burning off energy. Pay attention to any patterns.
  • They may outgrow it — Many times, puppies will experience zoomies more frequently as they learn to control their energy levels.
  • Keep safety in mind — While zoomies can be entertaining, you’ll want to make sure your pet doesn’t knock anything over and hurt themselves.

Have you ever seen your pet suddenly burst into a flurry of energy, running around the house with wild abandon? If so, then you’ve witnessed what is known as “zoomies.” Zoomies occur in cats and dogs (and other animals) of all ages and sizes, and are characterized by sudden bursts of energy that can last anywhere from several seconds to several minutes. It may look like your pet has gone crazy, but there is actually an important biological explanation for this behavior.

In this article, we will explore zoomies in detail, including their scientific basis, safety concerns associated with them, how to manage them if necessary, when medical assistance should be sought out for zoomie-related issues — plus four frequently asked questions about zoomies.

What are zoomies?

Zoomies, also known as the Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAP), is a phenomenon where cats and dogs (and occasionally other animals) experience sudden and seemingly manic bursts of energy. The proper definition of zoomies describes them as “short-term episodes of sudden, frenzied activity in which animals run, jump, chase their tail or engage in wildly energetic movements.” These episodes usually last anywhere from several seconds to several minutes, and may involve running around the house, jumping on furniture or chasing their own tail.

There are several telltale signs that point to an animal experiencing zoomies. It is generally easy to tell if a pet is having a zoomie episode because they move with such speed and enthusiasm that it seems almost unnatural. We may also notice them making more noise than usual while zooming around the room.

Zoomies in different animals

While cats and dogs are the most commonly associated with zoomie behavior, it can appear in all types of animals. Just like people, each animal has its own unique way of expressing pent up energy or excitement during different events. For example, horses may run around their pastures engaging in “zoomie” behavior by galloping and bucking excitedly for a period of time before settling down again. Parrots may also exhibit zoomie-like behaviors through fast and jerky movements accompanied by loud vocalizations in stressful situations.

Zoomies in cats

Cats typically display zoomie behavior more often than other pets due to their active nature. This can apply to both indoor and outdoor cats. It is not uncommon for cats to become bored, particularly if they are not receiving enough exercise or stimulation. When this happens, zoomies may be a way for them to release their energy and engage in playful behavior.

Because cats can find themselves in situations that trigger zoomie episodes, like being left alone for long periods of time, it is important for owners to provide them with adequate environmental enrichment and activities to keep them busy.

Zoomies in dogs

Zoomie behavior can also happen when dogs experience a sudden burst of excitement or joy from something like getting a new toy or playing an energetic game. We’ve all seen that happy look in their eyes when dogs are overjoyed. Like cats, dogs require regular physical exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy — so stimulating play sessions can help prevent boredom which can lead to zoomie episodes.

It is also important for dog owners of energetic breeds like Jack Russell terriers or sighthounds to provide their pup with adequate exercise on a daily basis, as these types of breeds are more likely to engage in zoomie behavior due to their high energy levels.

The science behind zoomies

The scientific nature of zoomies is not fully understood, but it could be related to the release of certain hormones like oxytocin in the animal’s brain. Endorphins are natural mood-enhancing chemicals that produce feelings of euphoria and excitement — for both humans and pets .

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, which play an important role in regulating behavior. When dopamine levels rise in animals, both direction and speed of movement can be affected. They may become overly excited and display zoomie-like behaviors as part of their response.  This could explain why certain activities or stimuli trigger zoomies in pets — they are simply responding to the pleasure they receive from the activity or stimulus.

Both dopamine and serotonin can play a role in pets having the zoomies. When these neurotransmitters hit certain levels, they can highly motivate a pet to become more active due to increased pleasures and decreased inhibition.

Dr. Dwight Alleyne

Zoomies as a form of animal communication

In addition to being a response to pleasurable activities and stimuli, zoomies can also be seen as a form of animal communication. Cats and dogs often use their zoomie behavior as a way to express happiness and excitement towards another pet or person. This can be especially useful for cats, who often communicate through body language rather than vocalizations. By engaging in these “zoomie” behaviors, cats may be displaying their enthusiasm towards something or someone new.

Are zoomies dangerous?

The good news is that zoomies are generally considered to be harmless and should not cause any concern for pet owners. They can, however, become dangerous if an animal engages in these behaviors in an unsafe environment. For example, a cat or dog that is zooming around the house could trip or hurt itself by running into a coffee table or other objects. It is therefore important for owners to monitor their pets during zoomie episodes and make sure they are in a safe space.

How to manage a zooming cat or dog, in 4 easy steps

While it is fun to watch your pet run around the house in a sudden burst of energy, managing a zooming cat or dog can be chaotic, especially if you have a small living space. Here are some easy steps to help manage a zooming pet:

If your pet’s random bursts of energy become too frequent or disruptive at inopportune times, there are several steps you can take to manage it:

  1. Establish set play times — Setting specific times throughout the day where your pet can engage in play or exercise on a regular basis will help prevent boredom and regulate their energy levels.
  2. Provide environmental enrichment — Providing toys, puzzles, and activities that stimulate your pet’s mind will keep them entertained for longer periods of time.
  3. Keep them active — Making sure your pet gets regular physical exercise, such as daily walks, will help keep their zoomie behavior to a minimum.
  4. Stay calm — Reacting with excitement or shouting at your pet during an episode of zoomies may actually encourage the behavior when the goal is to discourage it. Instead, try using a firm but gentle voice in order to redirect your pet away from the environment where they are zooming around.

When to seek medical assistance

Although zoomies are generally considered harmless, it is important for pet owners to be aware of any changes in fido’s natural dog behavior that may indicate an underlying medical condition. If your pet begins displaying ADHD-like behaviors frequently, or if they seem overly anxious or agitated during these episodes, it is best to seek the advice of a veterinarian immediately.

The final word on zoomies

Zoomies are a natural and normal part of life for many cats and dogs, however understanding what triggers them and how to manage them can help prevent potential dangers. It is also essential for pet parents to be mindful of any changes in their pet’s zoomie behavior, as this could indicate an underlying health issue. By providing your pet with sufficient physical exercise and environmental enrichment, you’ll be sure to keep their zoomie behavior under control. If you can, let your dog off the leash and run around the yard or dog parks to calm down their zoomies!

Frequently asked questions

Are zoomies a sign of happiness in dogs?

Yes, dog zoomies are often a sign of happiness in dogs. When a dog is engaging in zoomie behavior, it is often an indication of excitement and joy. They may also be expressing their curiosity or desire to explore the environment.

Why do dogs get zoomies after a bath or walk?

After bathing or walking, your dog might be feeling particularly happy and excited which can cause them to engage in zoomie behavior. For others, the sensation of water on their fur may add to their excitement and trigger an episode of zoomies. It is also possible that they are simply expending some of their excess energy from all the activity!

Can zoomies be a sign of anxiety in pets?

Yes, zoomies can be a sign of anxiety in pets. It is important to distinguish between zoomie behavior due to excitement and pleasure, and zoomie behavior due to anxiety. If your pet’s zoomies persist or become more frequent, it could be an indication of underlying stress or fear. Stress and anxiety can cause animals to engage in compulsive behaviors, such as a scared dog running around in circles or jumping up and down in an attempt to release some of the built-up energy or tension. It’s a good idea to talk to your vet in cases where there are frequent episodes.

When do puppies grow out of zoomies?

Puppies typically grow out of their zoomie behavior as they become older dogs. As puppies get more comfortable in their environment and learn to better control their energy levels, they usually engage in puppy zoomies less often. However, it is still important for owners to provide plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation for dogs of all ages to help keep energy levels in check.