A puppy will be enjoying dinner quietly one minute and then tearing about the house like there’s a fire under its tail the next. When a dog bulldozes into a busy house, these episodes of “zoomies” will last up to five minutes, but they can seem even longer.
So, why do dogs, cats, and other pets seem to be chase around in random spurts for no sensible reason?
“They’re all having a good time,” José Arce, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s president-elect, said. This bursts of energy, which are scientifically known as frenetic spontaneous action cycles (FRAPs), are common in both domesticated and wild animals.
While FRAPs tend to be spontaneous, there are a few causes that are normal in dogs. When a dog is let out of its cage, it can run around to burn off some of the energy it has acquired over the day. Similarly, a dog could be triggered to race around in a fleeting bout of exercise following an hours-long sleep by its trainer arriving home from work. According to Arce of Live Science, another common period for FRAPs is after a wash, likely to relieve nervous energy or enthusiasm from being bathed. Since dogs’ full-body shakes are so successful, the post-bath time zoomies are unlikely to be used to dry off.
Different stimuli are present in cats. Although puppies get zoomies at any time of day, felines are most likely to get them at dusk and dawn, when they are most busy. FRAPs are often popular in cats after brushing and using the litter box. Arce serves his cats dry food much of the time, but when he takes out a can of wet food every now and again, they go nuts. “They get very happy and enthusiastic,” he explained, “and they run up and down the hall and hop on the sofa.”
When cats have the zoomies, they run over a shorter period of time than dogs do. More athletic and high-strung dog types, such as Australian shepherds, can do them more often than laid-back dogs, owing to the fact that they need to release their energy more often, according to Arce.
FRAPs are carried out by a variety of wild species, including ferrets and elephants. According to a report reported in the Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Research in 2020, the action is classified as “binkies” in rabbits and is considered to be an indication of enthusiasm. Running, twisting the head or body about, and walking or spinning in the air are all instances of bunny binkies.
Despite the fact that FRAPs are a common occurrence, certain pet owners misunderstand the frantic energy and believe their dog is anxious or sick, according to Arce. Zoomies could be misinterpreted as obsessive-compulsive activities through them. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in dogs leads them to pursue their tails, imitate shadows, snap at the air as if attempting to catch a mouse, and mop the floor with their tongues — but zooming across the house is not a symptom of OCD in dogs. If you’re not positive if your pet is doing zoomies or has OCD signs, Arce suggests filming the action and displaying it to your doctor.
Zoomies aren’t especially harmful in and of themselves. Zoomies have never triggered a severe injury to a pet, according to Arce. Delete all delicate things from the dog’s direction if you’re indoors and concerned. If it occurs when you’re out on a stroll, maintain a tight hold on the rope to discourage the dog from escaping. If you’re bringing your dog anywhere that might be risky for a FRAP, such as a cliff for sightseeing, give him or her a chance to work off some steam first.