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Most dog owners know what the zoomies look like. The rambunctious havoc of a dog running around, maybe even with a toy in their mouth, leaping off furniture, sprinting circles in the yard, and messing up the bed can be ridiculous and hilarious. Dogs usually get uncontrollable zoomies when they are happy, excited, need to de-stress, and often after eating.
While it might seem like your dog is on a caffeine buzz when they get the zoomies after eating, it is unlikely they got into your coffee (although I did have this accidentally happen with my heeler mix one time when he was younger, it was a mess!). Zoomies are a natural behavior that most dogs, especially puppies and high-energy breeds, will display at least a few times in their life, usually because they are happy and have excess energy.
But why does your dog get the zoomies after eating?
Food in general gives dogs energy, and certain foods may contain extra carbs and sugar that can give your dog an extra energy boost. Food plus the joy of being with their human who just fed them can lead to celebratory zoomies.
So is it okay for dogs and puppies to have pent-up energy that they express by zooming around after eating? And how can you stop it if it becomes a problem? Zoomies after eating are normally fine, but if your dog becomes too out of control and manic it could be a red flag that there is an underlying health or training issue.
What Even Are Zoomies?
Did you know that zoomies have a scientific name? Frenetic Random Activity Periods, or FRAP, is the random burst of chaotic energy that we know as zoomies. Many activities can trigger zoomies, such as exercise, an owner coming home, after a bath, getting ready for bed, or eating! A meal can give dogs and other animals an extra, unexpected burst of energy, which can lead to zoomies after eating.
Zoomies are usually an expression of build-up energy that is released in one giant frenetic burst. As long as your dog is not in danger of hurting themselves (like little dogs jumping off tall furniture), zoomies are a natural behavior and it is okay to let your dog have the zoomies.
Dogs are not the only animals who get the zoomies. Horses, cats, birds, and many other animals have all been observed having the zoomies! It is a great way for animals to de-stress and shake off that last bit of energy.
Sometimes dogs and other animals can get zoomies simultaneously, like in this video of a dog who is zooming on and off the couch and gets the family cat involved in their shenanigans.
A meal can give dogs and other animals an extra, unexpected burst of energy, which can lead to zoomies after eating.
Reason 1: Food Equals Energy (And Energy Means Zoomies!)
Dogs’ ancestors were hunters and scavengers, and the domestication of modern dogs even came from scavenging along early human settlements. Since most dogs do not have to worry about searching for meals anymore, the excess energy that would have gone into searching for food is burned off as zoomies instead. Running around, play bowing, and using the couch as a landing pad, before hopefully settling down. They are simply energized from eating!
Modern commercial dog food often contains carbohydrates and sugars that provide a big source of energy for our dogs. There is not a lot of evidence that carbohydrates in your dog’s food are bad for dogs (unless they have an allergy), but if your dog has some repressed energy, the extra sugar boost could certainly lead to zoomies after eating.
Reason 2: Happy Zoomies
Many dogs who are happy and excited will get the zoomies as a celebration of their contentment. So why get the zoomies after a meal? Not only have they gotten to eat (most dogs love food) but if they just ate, that means you, their owner, are home! What occasion could be more joyous for a dog than a full belly and being home with their best friend? (Besides maybe the excitement after a really good walk?)
If a dog has been pent up in the house all day waiting for you to come home, and you come home AND you feed them at the same time? What a joyous occasion for them! There is a very good chance they will express their joy by zooming after eating.
The food has given them energy, they are excited to be with their owner, and they might need to expel that energy. High energy dogs like this husky in this video who have been waiting for their owners to come home all day are probably even more likely to get the zoomies after eating.
Whether they are just getting up and eating breakfast or eating dinner after being cooped up all day while you have been at work, they have the need to zoom! After-meal zoomies are celebratory zoomies for a happy dog.
Reason 3: You Are Reinforcing The Zoomies
Do you play with your dog every time they get the zoomies after eating? Perhaps it is keep-away with a toy, a game of chase, or you are simply laughing and verbally encouraging it. Well, there is a good chance you have accidentally been reinforcing this behavior.
Dogs are smart and easily pick up on patterns. If you are having fun with your dog after they eat, they will be conditioned to get the zoomies and play with you.
Zoomies and playing with your dog after eating is not necessarily a bad thing, but if it becomes an annoying habit, your dog might need more training, exercise, or enrichment throughout the day. Even just feeding your dog with an interactive toy can encourage them to burn off some of that excess energy and calm them down instead of zooming too much after eating.
This Novia Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is enjoying their meal out of an interactive puzzle toy, which engages them mentally and physically. It might not be quite the same as scavenging for food like their ancestors, it still taps into that ancient instinct.
Why Do Puppies Get Zoomies After Eating?
Puppies are notorious for the zoomies! They are still growing, learning how to move their bodies, and seem to oscillate between napping and terrorizing the household. While puppy zoomies are adorable, they can be less cute when they start biting you with their tiny sharp baby teeth in a zoomie frenzy. Or even worse, they get crazy zoomies after eating and zoom so hard they throw up their meal!
Puppies get the zoomies for the same reasons that adult dogs get the zoomies, they have excess energy they need to burn off. However, they tend to have a lot more excess energy than adult dogs. Since puppies and their little joints are still growing, you never want to over-exercise them. Zoomies are a nice way for them to burn off energy since it is a self-regulated form of exercise. After eating a nutritious meal that encourages healthy growth, puppies are very likely to have a burst of energy and get the zoomies.
If your puppy gets too out of control, starts biting you or household objects, or gives themselves an upset tummy from getting the zoomies after eating, there are some fun calming activities you can play with your puppy. When training focus and calmness, you only reward your puppy when they are relaxed. This will help condition them to want to offer relaxing behaviors rather than out-of-control zoomies. Crate-training your puppy is another good way to help them learn to relax after eating.
Should You Be Worried About Zoomies After Eating?
A dog always needs a little bit of time before a walk to digest their food after eating. This helps aid digestion and decrease the risk of any gastrointestinal issues. So if you are supposed to wait a little bit to walk your dog after feeding them, should you not let them have post-meal zoomies?
Zoomies are self-regulated and your dog should be fine zooming around the house after eating. As long as they are not going to hurt themselves, or others, and are in a safe location, let them zoom!
However, if it becomes excessive your dog might need more exercise or mental stimulation throughout the day. Try longer walks an hour or so before they eat or use interactive toys to feed them. If you are worried the zoomies might be a sign of stress or anxiety, do not hesitate to reach out to a certified dog trainer. They could help you narrow down what could be causing stress zoomies.
A sudden burst of hyperactivity after eating can also be a symptom of food allergies. A lot of commercial dog food has things like chicken in it, and some dogs are surprisingly sensitive to it, as well as other proteins and fillers. While itchy skin or stomach issues are more common symptoms of a food allergy, if you are worried you should always talk to your veterinarian. They can help diagnose an allergy and set you up with an elimination diet to figure out what kind of food is best for your dog.
Dogs who get the zoomies are happy and content, so let them be weird and enjoy themselves! It is okay to even let them get the zoomies after eating.
Of course, if your dog or puppy makes themselves sick or you think the zoomies are a sign of a health problem, you should reach out to a professional who can help you with a training plan or give your dog medical attention. But most dogs as they mature are good at self-regulating their zoomies so they do not make themselves sick. They are just shaking off excess energy!
Zoomies are a fun way to celebrate life with your dog. As long as your dog is not hurting themselves, or others, or bringing destruction to your home, there are no issues letting them have the zoomies after eating. Your dog probably has a little extra energy from eating and they are incredibly happy that you just fed them and that they get to be with you. You can take it as a compliment that they love you that much (or maybe they just love the food)!