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All About the Zoomies

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A short-haired red Dachshund runs in the backyard

You walk through the door and your dog goes on a wild sprint around the coffee table, or your cat starts zooming around the living room seemingly out of nowhere. Most commonly known as the “zoomies,” this sudden burst of hyperactivity mystifies many pet parents.

What Are the Zoomies?

The term commonly used to describe those bursts of energy in cats and dogs is known as "Zoomies." However, the more formal name for these energetic episodes is "Frenetic Random Activity Periods" or FRAPs. These sudden bursts of energy seem to come out of nowhere and are quite unmistakable. The zoomies often include frenzied running, spinning in circles, pouncing, bopping, and even excessive meowing or barking—seemingly out of nowhere.

Generally, zoomies are associated with happy behavior. However, when they become excessive, it could indicate an underlying behavioral problem such as anxiety or overstimulation. In these instances, it may be important to offer your pet extra physical and mental stimulation to reduce their frequent bouts of zoomies.

Why Do Pets Get the Zoomies?

Zoomies are generally caused by a build-up of excess energy which is then released in one short burst. Zoomies are a completely natural behavior commonly observed in younger pets. As pets age, this behavior tends to occur less frequently. However, senior dogs and cats may still experience their fair share of zoomies from time to time.

Certain times of day may trigger zoomies more than others, such as the first thing in the morning, super late at night, or in the evening after spending much of the day cooped up inside. Some dogs get zoomies after a bath, while cats are known to get zoomies in the middle of the night when everyone else is fast asleep.

Stressful triggers, like bath time or lifestyle changes, can also warrant a race around the living room. It’s your pet’s way of calming their nerves or showing relief when an uncomfortable situation is finally over. Cats, for instance, may zoom after visiting the litter box if it’s not clean or if they’re in some way uncomfortable. While many cats are simply celebrating a job well done, if you notice other abnormal behavior or a sudden change in their habits, it’s best to speak with your veterinarian.

Dog Zoomies

While your dog’s zoomies are typically triggered by an excess of energy, there are a few other situations that are likely to bring it on, such as:

  • Before bedtime: Your dog might be releasing excess energy before a more extended period of rest.
  • Following a bath: Dogs could undergo an adrenaline surge after bathing, feeling either relief from being out of the bath or attempting to dry off, or both.
  • Post-meal: This behavior is especially prevalent in dogs with a strong food orientation.
  • During a training session: If your dog is struggling to grasp a concept during training, it can result in a buildup of nervous energy.

If your dog occasionally has episodes of zoomies, or even if they happen once or twice a day, there's generally no cause for concern. However, constant zoomies may be a sign of a larger behavioral problem, so it’s a good idea to keep tabs on how often your dog is zooming and for what reasons.

Cat Zoomies

Most of the time, the cat zoomies are really just a way for a cat to have fun and blow off some steam, and they often occur at night. That’s because this behavior is tied to a cat’s internal rhythms. Although people tend to think of cats as nocturnal creatures, cats are actually crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dusk and dawn because that’s typically when their prey would be active. But because today’s house cats tend to sleep more during the day when their owners are at work, their schedules can be a little off, leading to zoomies later in the evening when you get home after a day out, or late at night.

Are Zoomies Harmful?

Zoomies are actually pretty harmless for your four-legged friend. However, it's important to ensure their safety and prevent any potential accidents. Keep an eye on them during their zoomie sessions to make sure they don't hurt themselves. Sometimes, those zoomies can get a bit wild, and if your pet zooms into furniture, walls, or slips while running, they could end up injured.

If your pet is having the zoomies at inopportune times such as when you are trying to sleep, providing more play, activity, and stimulation during the day may help. Otherwise, just enjoy the zoom while it lasts—your pet is happy, and you can usually get a good laugh out of it. Whether it's a cat sprinting up and down the hallway or a dog doing laps around the backyard, these bursts of energy help our pets release pent-up energy and stress, keeping them happy and healthy. After all, life is always better with a little bit of furry frenzy!

An ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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