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Decoding Zoomies: How to Handle Your Pet's Sudden Energy Bursts

Updated: Dec 3, 2023


two dogs running around with the zoomies

Your furry friend has been staying idle all day. Then, out of the blue, she bursts with energy and starts running around crazily. She is having the time of her life running at full speed in any direction that calls her. If you are a first time pet owner, this might make you worry. However, this type of behavior is entirely harmless and normal.


In the pet world, we call these episodes zoomies. It's an apt term for the immediate/sudden burst of energy in cats and dogs. This silly term is included with other similar silly terms for our pets:

a floofy cat doing a sploot on the floor showing its toe beans
A floofy cat doing a sploot on the floor showing its toe beans
  • Peets - its a combination word for paws + feet = peets

  • Toe beans - the little jelly bean shaped finger pads on cats.

  • Floofs - a generalized term for fluffiness in animals. Usually a cat or dog that is very hairy or has a long coat.

  • Sploot - this is where the animal lays their back legs out flat behind them (its very adorable if you ask me!).

  • Boops - this is an action word where you touch your animal gently and quickly. Kind of like a pat on the head or like a tap on the snoot.

  • Snoot - this is another word for nose.

  • Chonk - this is an oversized pet, but usually used as a term for a cute fat pet.

While most of the previous terms are descriptions for body parts, zoomies are quick active movements. There are some risks to this activity: breaking household items, slipping on surfaces, injuring the ACL, breaking a toenail off, etc. So, it can be a little challenging to handle your pet when zoomies occur. However, fear not, as there are several safe ways to manage zoomies.


Read on to learn more about these uncertain episodes and how you can tackle them as they occur.


Zoomies Phenomenon: A Joyful Release of Pet Energy

Zoomies, also known as frenetic random activity periods (FRAPs) or frenetic activity periods (FAPs), are a delightful and common behavior exhibited by pets, particularly dogs and cats. This spontaneous burst of energy is a natural expression of your pet's exuberance and playfulness. Understanding this phenomenon provides insights into your furry friend's need for physical activity and emotional expression.


Typically occurring after a period of confinement or restriction from play, zoomies are an exuberant display of joy when your pet finally gets the opportunity to release pent-up energy. This behavior is most commonly observed in dogs, who may sprint around the house or yard at full speed, showcasing their excitement and happiness.

a cat running has the zoomies

In the case of cats, you may also notice their zoomies occur after a visit to the litter box. This is a very natural reaction. While dogs have been domesticated for around 30,000 years, cats were only domesticated close to 12,000 years ago. Their instincts are still in tact and can be seen when they find the urge to run away from their "stink". In the wild, this would help them avoid predators that may pick up their smell. However, our babies don't need to worry about predators, but hey, they're cute when they do it right?


The joyous display of zoomies not only serves as a means for pets to expend excess energy but also allows them to express their happiness and contentment. It's a sight that many pet owners find endearing, capturing these moments to share on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.


While zoomies are a source of entertainment and a testament to the bond between pets and their owners, it's crucial to prioritize safety. Understanding how to manage and create a safe environment during these energetic episodes ensures that both pets and their owners can enjoy these moments without any risk. So, whether it's a dog joyfully racing around the backyard or a cat darting across the living room, embracing and appreciating the zoomies enriches the pet-owner relationship with shared moments of happiness and playfulness.


Are having the zoomies harmful to my pet?

"Zoomies" refer to the sudden bursts of energy and spontaneous running or racing around that many pets, particularly dogs, exhibit from time to time. This behavior is generally not harmful and is a natural expression of your pet's exuberance and playfulness. In fact, zoomies can be a healthy and normal way for animals to release built-up energy and alleviate boredom.


a dog running around with the zoomies

While zoomies themselves are not harmful, it's important for pet owners to ensure that the environment in which their pets engage in this behavior is safe. Indoor zoomies, for example, could lead to knocking over objects or furniture, so it's advisable to clear the area to prevent accidents. Similarly, outdoor zoomies should occur in a secure and enclosed space to prevent your pet from running into traffic or getting lost.


It's essential to recognize the difference between typical zoomies and behavior that may indicate distress or a health issue. If your pet suddenly starts displaying zoomies more frequently than usual, seems agitated, or exhibits other unusual behaviors, it's wise to consult with a veterinarian. Increased or abnormal zoomies could potentially be a sign of an underlying health concern, such as pain, anxiety, or discomfort.


In conclusion, while zoomies themselves are generally harmless and even entertaining, responsible pet ownership involves creating a safe environment for your furry friend to engage in this playful behavior. Regular veterinary check-ups can also help ensure that there are no underlying health issues contributing to changes in your pet's behavior.


Common Causes Of Zoomies in Cats and Dogs

Several aspects might lead to zoomies in your pup or cat. To safely control this condition, it is important to know its causes first.


Hormonal Surge

Zoomies, those delightful bursts of energy exhibited by pets, can often be attributed to hormonal surges, particularly during your furry companion's adolescence. Just like in humans, pets undergo hormonal changes as they mature, and this surge in hormones can manifest as increased energy levels and excitement. This surge, combined with the natural playfulness of pets, is a common trigger for the exuberant and often entertaining zoomies.


Additionally, it's worth noting that environmental changes can also contribute to the release of these hormones. Moving to a new house, for instance, can be a significant stressor for pets, leading to an increase in stress hormones. This heightened state of arousal may find an outlet in the form of zoomies as your pet tries to release pent-up energy and alleviate stress.


Understanding the connection between hormonal changes and zoomies can help pet owners navigate these energetic episodes more effectively. If you're concerned about your pet's adjustment to a new environment or going through adolescence, there are strategies to ease their transition. Pheromone diffusers, for example, can be employed to create a calming atmosphere for your pet. These diffusers release synthetic pheromones that mimic the natural calming signals animals produce, helping to reduce stress and anxiety during times of change.


Boredom

One prevalent trigger for the delightful phenomenon of zoomies in pets, whether dogs or cats, is the often-underestimated factor of boredom. These social animals thrive on interaction, play, and mental stimulation, making their need for engagement a fundamental aspect of their well-being.

dog at home bored can create zoomies

Pets, especially those left alone for extended periods, can experience a sense of ennui and restlessness. The absence of companionship and activities during these solitary times may result in a build-up of pent-up energy. This accumulation of unused vitality becomes palpable when the pet is finally reunited with its owner.


Upon the return of the pet owner, the burst of energy expressed through zoomies serves as a dynamic outlet for the built-up boredom and restlessness. The sheer joy and excitement displayed during these episodes are indicative of the pet's eagerness to engage in play and social interaction.


Understanding the role of boredom in triggering zoomies emphasize the importance of providing pets with mental and physical stimulation, even when their owners are away. Interactive toys, engaging puzzles, or leaving the television or radio on for auditory stimulation can help alleviate boredom during periods of solitude.


Moreover, incorporating a routine of regular playtime and interactive sessions when the owner is present can contribute significantly to a pet's overall well-being. This not only reduces the likelihood of boredom-induced zoomies but also fosters a happier and more balanced lifestyle for the pet. In essence, recognizing and addressing boredom as a factor in zoomies enhances the quality of life for pets, promoting a healthier and more fulfilling relationship between them and their owners.

Stress-Induced Zoomies

Stress stands out as a significant contributor to the occurrence of zoomies in pets, establishing a correlation with the previously discussed hormonal surge. Stress triggers the release of cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, which can lead to a sudden surge in energy—manifesting itself in the playful and sometimes frenetic bursts characteristic of zoomies.


When a pet is feeling under the weather or facing stressful situations, the body's natural response is to release cortisol. This hormonal release serves as an adaptive mechanism, preparing the pet to respond to potential threats or challenges. In the case of zoomies, this surge in cortisol translates into an immediate burst of energy, often observed in the form of rapid and erratic movements.

Identifying the sources of stress in pets is crucial for effective management. Common stressors include loud noises, sudden environmental changes, and separation anxiety when left alone. Loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks, can trigger anxiety in pets, prompting a stress response that may be expressed through zoomies.


Environmental changes, like moving to a new house or introducing new pets, can also induce stress. Additionally, separation anxiety, when pets are left alone for extended periods, is a common cause of stress-related zoomies upon the owner's return.


Managing stress in pets involves creating a calm and secure environment. Acupressure techniques and the use of CBD oil are among the methods employed by pet owners to alleviate stress. Acupressure involves applying gentle pressure to specific points on the pet's body, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. CBD oil, derived from hemp, is known for its calming properties and is used as a natural supplement to help manage stress and anxiety in pets.


Understanding the connection between stress and zoomies enables pet owners to address the root causes, creating a supportive environment that minimizes stressors and enhances the overall well-being of their furry companions.environmental changes, and separation anxiety.


Lack of Exercise

lazy dog needs to run with zoomies

The absence of sufficient physical activity emerges as a significant factor contributing to the exuberant and often amusing phenomenon of zoomies in pets. Both cats and dogs, being naturally active animals, require regular exercise to maintain their physical health and mental well-being. When deprived of this essential component, pets can experience a buildup of energy that finds expression in the form of energetic episodes like zoomies.


Pets that do not receive an adequate amount of exercise are more prone to engaging in zoomies, as the accumulated energy seeks an outlet. This burst of activity, marked by rapid running and jumping, becomes a way for them to release the pent-up energy that has been building over time. It's a natural response to a surplus of vitality with nowhere to go.


Furthermore, the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle go beyond the occasional zoomies. Lack of exercise can lead to weight gain, contributing to the development of overweight or obese pets. Chonky pets not only face potential health issues but are also more likely to experience reduced overall quality of life.


To counteract these effects, it is crucial for pet owners to monitor their pets' weight and prioritize regular exercise as part of their daily routine. Establishing a consistent exercise regimen not only helps prevent zoomies induced by a lack of physical activity but also promotes a healthier, happier, and more well-adjusted pet.


Incorporating interactive play, outdoor walks, or engaging toys into a pet's routine are effective ways to ensure they receive the exercise they need. By recognizing the vital role of exercise in a pet's life, owners can contribute to their furry friend's overall health and happiness while minimizing the likelihood of energy-induced zoomies.


How do I handle zoomies safely?

It is important to handle zoomies safely to ensure the security of your pet and others around it. Here are some ways to do so:


Take Safety Precautions

When your pet is seized by a sudden burst of energy, commonly known as zoomies, ensuring their safety becomes a paramount concern. Managing these exuberant episodes requires a combination of understanding, preparation, and proactive measures. Here are essential precautions to consider to prevent your pet from getting hurt during a bout of zoomies:

  • Provide Ample Space: Ensure your pet has plenty of space to run around freely. In the case of dogs, a leash might not be sufficient during the initial stages of zoomies. Seek out a fenced-in park or yard to allow your dog to release energy safely.

dog running in the year with the zoomies
  • Choose Safe Locations: If possible, guide your pet away from busy areas or places with potential hazards. Select open spaces where the risk of collision with objects or other pets is minimized.

  • Anticipate Sudden Stops and Starts: Be prepared for your pet to stop and start suddenly during their energetic escapade. Quick changes in direction are common during zoomies, so stay vigilant to avoid any unexpected obstacles.

  • Stay On Your Feet: Keep yourself mobile and ready to intervene if your pet is at risk of running into something or harming itself. Being physically present allows you to quickly react to any potential dangers.

  • Calm Observation: While it may be tempting to intervene, try to stay calm and let your pet burn off its energy naturally. Avoid unnecessary interference unless there is a clear safety concern.

  • Pet-Proofing Your Space: In a pet-loving household, especially for cat owners, consider removing breakable items from areas your pet can access. Cats, in particular, may knock over items for fun. Ensure the environment is pet-safe by removing any obstacles or fragile objects that could be in their path.

By taking these precautions, pet owners can create a safer environment for their furry friends to enjoy their energetic moments. Balancing the thrill of zoomies with responsible oversight ensures that both pets and their owners can relish these bursts of energy without compromising safety.


Increase Their Exercise and Playtime

The best way to deal with zoomies in a healthy pet is to increase their exercise and playtime. It will help burn off some excess energy and hopefully make your furry friend less hyper.


If your pet is prone to zoomies, make sure to give them several chances to burn off energy throughout the day. It can be through regular walks, runs, or even just playful sessions in the yard. You can help your pet avoid those sudden bursts of energy with proper exercise.

dog playing with ball in backyard

Some dog breeds are more prone to zoomies than others. So if you have a high-energy breed like a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd, you'll need to up their exercise routine even more. If you can't take them for a long walk or run daily, try playing fetch or frisbee in your backyard or at the park. Other options are listed below.

  • Bring your dog to daycare

  • Have a Pet sitter come by while you are away

  • Have a pet camera to interact with them while you are not home. Some even have treat throwers!

Training and Mental Stimulation

Another key to handling zoomies is twofold: training and mental stimulation.

With proper training, your pet will learn when and where it is appropriate to zoom around. It will help prevent any accidental occurrences or damage to your personal belongings.

dog doing food puzzle to prevent zoomies

Proper training plays a crucial role in teaching your pet when and where it is acceptable to engage in zoomies. Through consistent training, pets can learn boundaries and appropriate behavior, minimizing the chances of accidental occurrences or damage to personal belongings. Establishing clear guidelines helps shape your pet's behavior and fosters a harmonious relationship between pet and owner.


Did you know 10 minutes of mental stimulation will tire them out faster than a 30 minute walk? Mental stimulation is important for keeping your pet's zoomies and other boredom behaviors (you know the ones... chewing up the furniture and getting into the trash) under control. Providing them with plenty of toys, puzzles, and other forms of enrichment will tire it mentally and physically. This will eventually lead to a lesser number of zoomies.


Recognizing the connection between mental and physical well-being is essential. Pets that receive both mental and physical stimulation are more likely to exhibit balanced behavior. Integrating a combination of training sessions, interactive play, and mental exercises into their routine establishes a holistic approach that enhances their overall quality of life.


Consistency is key when incorporating training and mental stimulation into your pet's routine. Regular training sessions and a variety of enrichment activities should be a consistent part of their daily schedule. This not only reinforces positive behaviors but also provides a structured and predictable environment for your pet.


Acupressure for Calmness

In addition to understanding the hormonal and behavioral aspects of pet zoomies, consider the calming benefits of acupressure. Acupressure, a traditional Chinese medicine technique, involves applying gentle pressure to specific points on your pet's body to promote relaxation and balance energy flow.

cat getting acupressure for calming after zoomies

There are key acupressure points associated with calmness that can be an invaluable tool in managing your pet's energy levels. For instance, applying gentle pressure to the center of your dogs forehead or massaging the base of their ears are known to have a calming effect. Similarly, the area between a cat's shoulder blades is a common acupressure point that may help alleviate stress.


Incorporating short acupressure sessions into your pet's routine, especially during or before anticipated times of stress or excitement, can be beneficial. Not only does it contribute to a sense of calmness, but it also strengthens the bond between pet and owner. If you are in the Charlotte, NC area, we teach acupressure classes! Come join us with your pup to learn beneficial points to help.


By incorporating acupressure into your toolkit of strategies, you empower yourself to address your pet's energy levels from a holistic perspective, promoting both physical and mental well-being.


Conclusion

In conclusion, zoomies are an exuberant expression of joy that adds a delightful dimension to the experience of pet ownership. While these bursts of energy are inherently normal and enjoyable, it is crucial to be mindful of appropriate handling methods to ensure both the pet's safety and the owner's peace of mind.


Understanding the various triggers, from hormonal surges to boredom and lack of exercise, equips pet owners with the knowledge needed to navigate and manage zoomies effectively. Incorporating strategies like increased exercise, mental stimulation, and acupressure sessions can contribute to a well-rounded approach for a happy and balanced pet.


By embracing the tips outlined above, we hope you feel more prepared to handle and enjoy the energetic moments with your furry companion. Remember, zoomies are a natural part of your pet's playtime, and with the right knowledge and precautions, you can unleash the fun safely. Get ready to embark on a journey of energetic bliss with your beloved pet, creating lasting memories filled with joy and playfulness.

happy dog waiting to play


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