Why Do Dogs Go Crazy After Eating?

Many puppies and dogs go crazy after eating and dog owners often wonder what's going on with their canine friends. It's not like they are eating sugar-loaded candy as it happens with toddlers getting a sugar high, so what gives? Interestingly, there are several possible explanations for this behavior.

So you have finally come home from work, fixed yourself a good dinner and then fed your dog his daily ration. You are now looking forward to sitting back and relaxing on the couch while watching your favorite TV show. 

Next thing you know, it's as if a tornado just went through your house. Your knick-knacks are knocked down the table and your furniture is suddenly rearranged. What was that? It's a bird! It's a plane! It's super puppy with a serious case of zoomies!

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Introducing the "Doggy Zoomies"

Technically known as "Frenetic Random Activity Periods" (FRAP), or more informally, "puppy crazies," dog zoomies are simply periods of high activity. These moments of hyper behaviors are simply evoked by the presence of excess of energy occurring in certain contexts.

Cases of zoomies are particularly popular among puppies and young dogs; however, you can briefly see them happen even in the oldsters every now and then. 

Typically, dogs with a serious case of zoomies will develop a crazy, play-face look  as they perform a play bow with the tail wagging wildly side-by-side. Next, they take off zipping up and down hallways with a hunched-up posture, dashing around tables and bouncing off couches. New puppy owners sometimes describe them as episodes where their puppies appear to be "possessed by the devil."

Zoomies are particularly popular in particular contexts. We have seen in previous articles cases of dogs acting crazy after a bath or dogs running after pooping. Zoomies though can also be seen after meals, in particular after dinner. 

So now that we officially know exactly what the doggy zoomies are, the next question is: why do dogs get the zoomies after eating?

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A Dog's Way To Celebrate Life 

For many dogs, the zoomies are just a way to celebrate life, basically, it's a manifestation of their joie de vivre, (joy of life). And what's more worthy of celebrating than the sensation of satiety?

In a dog's past history, they had to work to find food and sometimes that meant leading a feast -or- famine lifestyle. Food was often scarce, but at other times it was quite plentiful. 

Domesticated dogs no longer have to hunt or scavenge for food. They are now fed in shiny bowls and have the luxury of having the security of daily meals. Since they no longer have to work hard to find food, this often leads to a surplus of energy that can be drained by running around and playing. These perks of life are surely worthy of celebrating!

These postprandial celebrations also appear to often be contagious. If you own several dogs, you may notice how, after eating, one dog starts acting hyper and then the others are ready to follow. After all, what's better than sharing with other dogs the after-meal crazies?

The Effect of Food 

The simple fact of eating has a nourishing and energizing effect on dogs which may prompt the zoomies. This effect though can be exacerbated when dogs are fed diets that are loaded with high-glycemic index carbs.

"Have you ever experienced a child who becomes wildly hyperactive shortly after consuming a sugary food or drink and then crashes into a state of sluggishness a couple of hours later? High-GI foods such as corn and wheat create similar mood swings in dogs as they do in people" explains veterinarian Dr. Jean Dodds in the book: Canine Nutrigenomics, the New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health.

This sugar high may therefore trigger hyperactive behaviors and lack of focus, but these are likely expected to occur as well at other times of the day rather than showing up as post-prandial zoomies.

Skipping foods with high-glycemic carbs is therefore an important step in curbing dietary induced behavior problems. Switching to a better diet made of wholesome ingredients is recommended. Food allergies should also be ruled out.

"Unfortunately, when a dog "misbehaves," nutrition  is rarely considered as a possible contributing factor," points out Dr. Dodd.  Evidence shows that dietary components can modulate the behavior of  both animals and humans, she further adds, citing Bosch et al, 2007. 

Now That You Know...

Many dog owners wonder what they can do when their dogs get the zoomies. Well, first of all, zoomies are perfectly normal. There's nothing wrong with dogs acting crazy after eating as long as they do so safely and without wreaking major havoc. Fortunately, the zoomies are rather short-lived and soon dogs are back to snoozing.

 Sure, when you have two dogs, watching them play together can be quite entertaining (even better than certain boring T.V. shows!), but when you have only one dog and that dog is coming to you and play bows repeatedly, possibly barking in your face, the behavior can be annoying, especially when the zoomies strategically seem to coincide with your much desired quiet time.

Some dog owners on the other hand may worry about their dogs injuring themselves or knocking down expensive collectibles from coffee tables or shelves. Who can blame them?

It's a good idea to redirect the activity to another place or an alternate activity if things seem to get too wild. If you decide to enjoy the show though, make sure there is a clear path and that grandma is out of the way! 

And of course, always keep health in mind: some deep-chested dog breeds are predisposed to bloat and life-threatening gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV). These dogs should be prevented from engaging in strenuous exercise after eating. 

7 Tips on How to Stop Dog Zoomies 

  • Rush towards the door and into the yard, enticing your dog to chase you so that he can burn off some steam in the yard. With a spacious yard, your dog has more room to stretch his legs and less risk of getting injured or knocking down items. Once outside, encourage your dog to sniff or engage in other calm activities.
  • Try redirecting your dog's energy to a less rowdy activity such as a game of tug.
  • Play with your dog a fun game that works on impulse control such Ian Dunbar's "Jazz up and Settle Down" game.
  • Schedule a training session or keep your dog's mind stimulated with brain games or fill some interactive food-dispensing toys with treats.
  • Walk your dog in the evening right after meals.
  • Prevent the zoomies by skipping the food bowl and instead feeding your dog's meal portion through feed dispensing toys like Kong Wobblers or organizing fun "treasure hunts" where the kibble is scattered around the house.
  • Consider crankiness. Sometimes puppies get cranky and start acting out when they are very tired. If your puppy receives enough exercise and mental stimulation, it could be your pup just needs to learn how to settle down and nap. After a few minutes of zoomies or play time, you can try providing a quiet spot (draw the curtains so it's darker) and a quiet activity (such as gnawing on a safe chew toy) until your pup falls soundly asleep.
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