What Causes the Zoomies?: Vet Weighs in on What Makes Your Pet Race Around the House

Dr. Zac Pilossoph, a consulting veterinarian at Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, says the "zoomies" in dogs is a canine's "best expression of being happy"

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Zoomies may sound like a ridiculous word to some, but it can be an everyday occurrence to pet owners.

Dr. Zac Pilossoph, a consulting veterinarian at Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, defines the zoomies as "a dog's way of explaining they're excited and happy, enough to want to show it."

"It's their best expression of being happy. The term 'zoomies' is colloquial and describes behavior many pet parents have experienced. Still, your dog can get the zoomies during a few scenarios, like when an owner comes home or uses a favorite toy. The zoomies can best be defined as a dog's most excited expression of happiness," he tells PEOPLE.

To learn a bit more about what sets pets racing around the house and how pet parents can help turn a destructive case of the "zoomies" — which have been known to send breakables and people crashing to the ground — into a fun moment for all, PEOPLE talked to Dr. Pilossoph about this behavior.

Read on to learn more about what can send a dog or cat galloping through the house and what it all means.

Are they zoomies a "bad" behavior or a sign of a physical/mental health issue?

No, zoomies are a good sign, and it means your dog is happy! If you're trying to help a dog be more obedient, you might want set limits on "zoomies time" and make sure to have a training time. Give the dog time to run around, but make sure there's time set aside for training. In general, zoomies mean your dog is happy and wants to be interactive, and there's nothing wrong with that.

What causes the zoomies in dogs?

We see zoomies in young pups or higher agility dogs, but it can also depend on a dog's personality. My grandfather's senior dog still gets the zoomies. Zoomies have to do with a dog's personality, some are more enthusiastic, and some are docile. In general, age, breed type, and personality will play a part in if your dog gets the zoomies.

Is it important to let your dog have their "zoomies"?

Yes, the zoomies are a sign of being happy. It's not a bad thing, and it's a sign that your dog is enjoying life. You want them to be able to express their happiness.

What are some ways pet owners can make the zoomies easier on their dogs?

Try to understand your dog's path. Dogs will tend to have a routine when they get the zoomies and remove clutter and any debris from the area. If the dog has joint pain or back issues, you might want to limit access to stairs and chairs that they jump on so they don't injure themselves.

What are some ways to make the zoomies less destructive?

Give your dog time during the day to have fun, but also have their obedient time too. I would rather a dog be happy and exerting energy than being lazy and sad in their bed. If you give them a space that's theirs, that's free of clutter it can help them have the zoomies safely. Zoomies let your dog get their energy out after being stuck inside all day.

Do you feel like the zoomies are a behavior in cats as well? Why or why not?

Some cats get excitation zoomies, but it's from a predatory aspect, and they often like to express their zoomies using a toy they can chase: a wand with feathers at the end or even a laser they can hunt. Cat zoomies can happen, but it's a bit lesser-known. Any exercise you can get in your cat is great. Like dogs, cats expressing the zoomies can also depend on the cat's personality.

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