Why Do Dogs Get the Zoomies? High-Speed Canines, Explained


Small, happy dog with zooms running across the grass

Imagine this: you're peacefully sitting on your couch, enjoying a quiet evening with your furry companion, when suddenly, your dog goes from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. The once serene living room transforms into a whirlwind of paws, tail-wagging, and joyful barks. What's going on?! 

Welcome to the delightful (and slightly perplexing) world of "zoomies," a phenomenon familiar to many dog owners. These spontaneous bursts of energy can be both hilarious and puzzling, leaving us wondering why our canine friends engage in such exuberant behavior.

What are zoomies?

What do the zoomies mean? Before we dive into the why, let's clear up what exactly zoomies are. 

Picture this: your dog darts across the room, zooming here and there, as if propelled by an invisible force. It's a bit like watching a furry tornado unleashed in your living space. Zoomies, also known as "frapping" (short for "frantic random acts of play"), are those sudden bursts of energy that seem to come out of nowhere. Your once-calm pup transforms into a whirlwind of excitement, racing around, jumping, and engaging in all sorts of playful antics. 
Excited pit bull dog with zoomies playing outside

Why do dogs get zoomies?

Seeing our pups zoom around the living room is one of the highlights of our day. But why do dogs get zoomies? There are a few reasons why your furry companion might have the zoomies:

Physical release and exercise

Have you ever experienced a surge of energy and an irresistible urge to move around? Dogs feel that too. Like humans, they need an outlet for their excess energy. Zoomies serve as a form of spontaneous exercise, particularly for indoor dogs who may not have as many opportunities to run freely. Just as a run or a workout session helps us blow off steam, zoomies provide dogs with an avenue to release pent-up energy.

Instinctual behavior

Zoomies might seem like random chaos, but there's a method to the madness. Evolution plays a role here. Think back to your dog's ancestors in the wild. Predatory and playful behaviors were essential for their survival. These instincts are imprinted in your dog's DNA. When they're zooming around like crazy, they're channeling their inner wild canine, expressing their primal urges in a safe and joyful way.

Physical release and exercise

Dogs are social animals, and their love for play is deeply ingrained. Zoomies often find their roots in social interactions and playdates. You might notice that one dog's zoomies can be contagious, spreading to other pups in the vicinity. It's like a joyful domino effect. Through zoomies, dogs communicate their desire for play and interaction, showcasing their exuberance and inviting others to join in the fun.

Emotional release

Just like us, dogs experience a wide range of emotions. Zoomies can be triggered by a burst of happiness, excitement, or even stress. It's as if your dog is experiencing an emotional overflow that can only be expressed through frenetic energy. Next time you see your pup zooming around after a particularly exciting event, remember that they're channeling their emotions in the most exuberant way possible.

Woman playing with her dog with zooms in the living room

What to do if your dog has the zoomies

Zoomies are completely normal! While dog zoomies are nothing to worry about, you can still find a way to support your pet’s well-being when their energy is high. Wondering what to do if your dog has the zoomies? Take a peek at these tips for your little fur-icane! 

Ensure safety

While zoomies are a blast, safety comes first. Before the zoomie session begins, quickly scan the area for potential obstacles. Move breakable items out of harm's way and create a clear space for your pup to zoom around. If possible, head to a secure, enclosed space like your backyard, where your furry friend can go all out without any risks.

Join the fun

Don't be a bystander—join the zoomie fiesta! Engage with your dog by playing along. Your participation not only heightens the excitement but also strengthens the bond between you and your furry companion. Get down to their level, match their energy, and let the laughter and joy flow freely.

Redirect energy

If you're worried about your furniture surviving a zoomie onslaught, consider redirecting your pup's energy. Fetch toys, puzzle games, and interactive treat-dispensing toys are fantastic ways to channel their exuberance into something productive. Mental stimulation complements physical exercise, keeping your dog engaged and happy.

Training opportunities

Zoomies might seem like pure chaos, but there's a golden opportunity for training. Incorporate simple commands during and after a zoomie session. It's an excellent chance for your dog to practice obedience in a high-energy state. Plus, the transition from zooming to focusing on commands can be a valuable exercise in self-control.

Do cats get the zoomies?

Yes! While they might look a little different than dog zoomies, they still have their own unique way of letting loose. So why do cats get the zoomies?

Exploring feline behavior

Guess what? Dogs don't hold a monopoly on zoomies. Cats, those enigmatic and independent creatures, have their own version of these playful energy explosions. While we often associate cats with serene naps, they're also known to have moments of hyperactivity that might look a lot like zoomies.

Differences in expression

Cat zoomies come with their own unique flair. Unlike the boisterous, all-out running of dogs, cat zoomies are stealthier, characterized by sudden pounces, darting movements, and gravity-defying leaps. It's as if they've tapped into their inner ninja, showcasing their agility and speed.

Potential triggers for cat zoomies

Cats, much like dogs, experience zoomies in response to certain triggers. Excess energy, excitement, and their inherent predatory instincts can set off a zoomie session. If you've ever seen your cat suddenly dart across the room for no apparent reason, you've witnessed their version of zoomies. 

If you have a zoomies dog or a zoomies cat, consider yourself lucky! Zoomies are a testament to the sheer joy and exuberance that our pets experience. These lively bursts of energy are a natural, healthy expression of their instincts and emotions. Instead of scratching your head in bewilderment, embrace the zoomies as a wonderful opportunity to bond, play, and share moments of pure delight with your four-legged friend. So, next time your pup takes off like a rocket, remember—it's not just zooming; it's an embodiment of happiness in motion.
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Dr. Joya Griffin is an Ohio native and graduated from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has a special interest in fungal and immune-mediated skin diseases as well as feline and equine dermatology. Dr. Joya always strives to care for her patients as if they are her own pets and loves building long-lasting relationships with their pet parents. Dr. Joya also stars in the Nat Geo WILD television series, “Pop Goes the Vet with Dr. Joya,” which highlights the challenging and mysterious cases she encounters in veterinary dermatology.

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