horse and dog running

Just about every pet owner or animal lover has experienced zoomies as a bystander. It’s that tell-tale moment your furry fluff-ball becomes really still, gets a silly look on their face, launches in to the play stance, wiggles their butt, and takes off at high speed running circles around everyone and everything. These random bursts of energy are referred to as “FRAPs” – frenetic random activity periods, and they don’t just occur in dogs and cats. Turns out, other household pets and our wild friends are just as involved with zoomies as dogs and cats are, according to Live Science.

What prompts these sudden outbursts of high energy has been under scrutiny, and veterinarians and scientists have concluded it’s mostly all about fun, according to the president-elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Jose Arce, as reported in Live Science. Why shouldn’t it be fun? Animals are releasing joy in wild abandon. They look like they’re having fun. Other animals, such as ferrets, elephants, horses, and rabbits, exhibit frenetic energetic periods as well, which researchers believe is an expression of excitement.

Zoomies are normal in most cases, according to Cathy Madson, certified dog trainer and behavior consultant for Preventive Vet. Regarding the burst of energy in dogs, she stated, “Some breeds zoom around more than others, and some dogs start to zoom when encouraged to do so by their owners. Zoomies are usually short-lived and last for a minute or two.”

retriever dog running

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Zoomies can be random, but sometimes they’re predictable since the frenetic behavior is often displayed after certain events. Veterinarians and scientists think the sudden burst of energy could be a quick release of pent-up anxiety or excitement. Running around at top speed is a fun way for an animal to release lots of energy following a stressful situation or happy occurrence.

It’s not unusual to see zoomies after a pet has been sedentary for stretches of time. Even a reported couch-potato needs regular exercise and can be overcome with a wave of active energy at some point. A bored dog may suddenly leap off the couch and use the furniture as her own agility course as she bounces from room to room.

Slightly more anxiety-provoking events like grooming, boarding, or a visit to the vet may elicit a round of zoomies once the animal is free to run and move. Many times, zoomies are witnessed after the animal is bathed and feeling refreshed, or after they have relieved themselves outdoors. And of course, the sight of a loved one can bring on a case of the zoomies, as well.

dog running in snow

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The majority of zoomies are safe, experts agree, but there are preventatives and other factors to consider to help keep your pet safe when zoomies hit. As many pet owners have experienced, zoomies can rearrange furniture, upend tables, and scatter rugs. It’s possible for a pet to become injured during the frenzied race through the house or yard. Move objects out of the way, clear the “track,” and just let your pet have the time of their life.

There are a few instances when zoomies may not be the playful, harmless burst of energy described above. According to Arce, as reported in Live Science, what may appear to be zoomies could be symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Additionally, running around frequently or haphazardly could indicate high anxiety or even a neurological issue.

“If your dog isn’t sure about what they’re supposed to do or feels anxious, they might start running around as a way to get rid of that build up of nervous energy. Pay attention to when your dog tends to get the zoomies, as this could tell you that the situation might be stressful for them,” said Madson, according to Preventive Vet.

dog running in field

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Though zoomies are considered safe and normal dog behavior, Madson told Preventive Vet that should zoomies, or something that appears to be zoomies, happen too often, “it might be a sign your dog is stressed or unsure about what’s going on. Zoomies can become what’s called a displacement behavior. Displacement behaviors are normal dog behaviors that happen out of their usual context. Ever been at an awkward dinner party and felt the urge to laugh, even though nothing was particularly funny? That’s a human example of a displacement behavior.”

If your pooch or feline is feeling otherwise fine, and physically and mentally healthy, just clear the way and stand aside when zoomies hit. Let your pet get their energy out while having a good time, and enjoy the quick-sprinted show.

Featured Photo Courtesy: Pixabay