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Does your pet get the zoomies? There is a science behind it.


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Here’s what’s behind those sudden bursts of energy.

ST. LOUIS — If you have a pet, this is a likely scenario in your household.  Your dog, out of the blue, takes off running as fast as they can…turning your home into an obstacle course.

What is behind their sudden bursts of energy? There’s actually a science behind it. 

It is quite a spectacle. Your pet can be chill one minute, then it’s off to the races the next.  A race…against themself!  

“They seem like they’re possessed, right?” said Dr. Elsa Stuart of Millis Animal Hospital.

Wild-eyed, running, spinning, zooming in circles. Stuart explained, “They might tuck their tail under, might kind of tuck their butt under a bit. almost like another imaginary dog is chasing them.” 

Your dog is likely experiencing a case of the zoomies!  There’s a medical term for this goofy sprint that is so entertaining.  “It’s called a Frenetic Random Activity Period. FRAP for short,” Stuart explained.

Stuart sees it all the time in her own dog, Winnie. 

“Typically, we see FRAPS happen at times of transition through the day, so it might be like when their owner gets home from work, or a guest is coming over,” said Stuart, adding zoomies can happen before or after a meal, after being groomed or before bedtime. “They seem random to us, but I think when you think about what’s going on in your dog’s head, what they’ve encountered during that day, it might make a little more sense that they need to blow off some steam.”

It happens most often in younger dogs, but older pets can get all the feels too. Stuart explains there are good zoomies: “Usually if they’re really loose and wiggly and carefree. That is a happy zoomie.”

Then there are those moves that resemble a zoomie, but it could indicate your pup is anxious or in pain.

“If their ears are pinned back. If their eyes are really wide and worried looking, or if their body seems tense,” Stuart said.

The Zoom Room in Crestwood is a training and agility center where controlled zoomies are the norm.  

“There are three things that I always say that it takes for a dog to live a successful life. Clear boundaries, mental stimulation and physical exercise,” explained Elizabeth Ruzzo, a trainer at the Zoom Room. 

Queenie, one of the dogs taking agility classes, is the queen of zoomies and is getting all three.

“It’s just a great outlet for an athletic dog to do this. And it keeps them sharp mentally just like it does us,” said Queenie’s mom, Judy DeMarco.

So, your pet’s zoomies may be their way of telling you they are ready and willing to be active and mentally stimulated and will run around in circles until we humans get the message.  

While Frenetic Random Activity Period is typically a dog thing, cats, horses, donkeys, cows and many other species are known to do similar activity. 

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Does your pet get the zoomies? There is a science behind it.

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