14 Types of Animal Dreams (& What They Mean for Your Life)

In dreams, animals are the embodiments of our base instincts and desires such as fear, lust, and anger that can only be understood instinctively.

As such, dreaming about a particular animal means that a deeper, more instinct based part of your personality is trying to reach out and manifest itself.

Another interpretation is that the dream animal is a part of yourself you find hard to control. 

In dreams, animals are the embodiments of our base instincts and desires such as fear, lust, and anger that can only be understood instinctively. 

As such, dreaming about a particular animal means that a deeper, more instinct based part of your personality is trying to reach out and manifest itself.
Animal dreams usually represent our base instincts, but the exact interpretation depends on the animal’s behavior

We often attach characteristics or personality traits to animals. Because of this, dream animals often symbolize gut feelings we have about other people in our lives. A good example are foxes, who we consider cunning and scheming. Dreaming of a fox could mean there’s someone in our life we perceive as untrustworthy or scheming.

Dreams about animals are particularly interesting because they show situations we are familiar with, but are somehow different and unusual. 

Dream animals have traditionally been associated with the world of humans, often as bringers of bad luck or blessings. For instance, dreaming of wolves is thought to indicate robbery or misfortune.

In Freud’s view, animals in dreams usually represent repressed or unexpressed sexual or aggressive tendencies, not predictions of the future. In contrast, Jung argued that dream animals should be considered individually, by analyzing their character and actions, as well as connecting what sort of behaviors the dreamer associates with the dream animal.

In fact, Jung went even further and claimed animals had a “divine” aspect to them, because they are much more connected to Nature and the natural order of things than humans.

Not only that, but animals, unlike humans, don’t have a layer of rationality that separates their behavior from their subconscious. Because of this, animals can directly tap into the “absolute knowledge” of millions of years of evolution buried in them.

Unlike humankind, animals follow their own internal laws that are above the simple ideas of good and evil, thus making them superior to us and a source of inspiration and guidance.

Dreams featuring animals can be complex and hard to interpret, despite being one of the most common dream symbols. To begin, think about how you feel about the particular animal in your waking life.

For example, cat owners might associate cats with love and playfullness, while people allergic to cats associate them with illness or general feelings of being unwell.

You can tell whether an emotion or urge is struggling to emerge or is already expressing itself in your daily life by reflecting on what the dream animal was doing, or how it made you feel. 

However, if you have no feelings at all for the animal in your dream, you need to consider what qualities you typically associate with it: for example, a fox is cunning and stealthy, an elephant is strong and mysterious, while a dog is loyal and loving.

As mentioned previously, animals are the dream embodiments of pure, raw emotions and urges, so it’s possible your subconscious used the fox as a dream symbol to warn you that someone in your life is cunning or plotting something against you.

Analyzing yourself and figuring out what connection a certain animal has to different aspects of your personality should help you figure out what you should do: encourage and develop that part of yourself, control it or protect yourself against it.

If you still can’t figure out the meaning of the animal, it’s possible the associations you have with it are more cultural, and draw from local mythology, legends etc. For example, some African tribes associate eagles with death since they scavenge dead corpses, while in North America they are associated with freedom since they fly high and live in untamed areas of the world.

A dream animal can also be interpreted as a pun. If you dream of a badger, are you feeling annoyed or “badgered” in some way? If a zebra visited your dream, might it be because you’re thinking in black-and-white terms too much?

No matter how problematic, dream animals provide a chance for us to explore both parts of ourselves that we have forgotten and those that we have not yet discovered. Animal dreams are generally viewed as signs of the subconscious awakening and manifesting its desires into our waking life.

Animals you dream about will depend on your particular life circumstances, but as you interpret your dreams, always remember that animals often represent our fundamental connection to life and desire to live it well.

Dreams of agricultural animals

Farm animals are neither pets nor wild creatures, but they frequently reflect aspects of your personality that you’ve mostly (but not completely) tamed and brought under control, but could escape conscious control at any time.

When dreaming about a working animal, consider the context, since it could be a reflection of how you feel about your daily responsibilities, burdens and chores.

Animal noises in dreams

Dreaming of animal sounds requires you to figure out what those sounds mean to you in waking life and then to create a symbolic connection between the sound and the waking life experience.

An animal barking, wailing, or whining for attention, for example, may be a part of yourself calling for attention and recognition.

The sound of ominous growling, roaring, or cackling might symbolize anger that has built up within you or in another person.

When you hear braying, it might mean that basic animal instincts need to be overcome. 

A bleating sound might symbolize the new duties or role you’ve been given, such as that of a parent or boss. These bleating sounds can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you view these new duties.

Dreams of animals in pain

Having a dream in which you rescue, care for or save an animal suggests you are connected and in tune with certain emotions and personality traits of yourself that are represented by the dream animal. 

A dream about a wounded animal might mean there’s trauma in your life you need to overcome, a trauma that is giving you an uncontrollable reaction such as rage, fear or anxiety.

Dreaming yourself in the waiting room of an animal hospital implies you want to escape responsibilities or commitments you have in day life. 

Dreams of lab animals means a part of yourself is being repressed or denied. A different interpretation of lab animal dreams is that you should be daring, and try to tackle your fears, beliefs and choices.

Dreams of animals in water

Water, like emotion, has its own ebb and flow and this has caused the two to be symbolically linked together. 

An animal in water has a double symbolic meaning. First you have the animal, which is connected to a particular part of our personality. Then, you have the water which represents the state of our emotions.

Interpreting a dream of animals in water requires you to first understand what associations you have with a particular animal, and then observe how it is moving through the water.

Calm and beautiful water signifies that are our emotions are tranquil and clear. Stormy water suggests you are feeling upset, while muddy waters represent feelings we can’t quite understand.

Combine the nature of the animal and it’s actions with the behavior of the water and you can now interpret the dream.

Dreams of animals with cubs or baby animals

These dreams signify an instinctual attachment to your mother or father, or your own experience of being parented as a child. 

Symbolically, a baby animal represents yourself while young and vulnerable; the desire to have a baby; vulnerability; base survival instincts such as crying out for comfort and protection, as well as the need for dependence and bonding. 

A young animal’s injury or death could suggest problems with growing up or adjusting to adulthood.

Dreams of trapped or caged animals

A caged wild animal implies you have dominated and established full control over your instincts. 

However, if you and the animal are both in a cage, it might indicate you might need to break the limits imposed on your personality. 

Dreaming of an animal tangled in barbed wire or stuck in a trap implies that you or someone else may be unhappy. In this type of dream, a calm animal indicates inner strength and resilience when confronted with hardship, while a panicked animal symbolizes unhealthy or unhappy memories that limit your potential.

Dreams of transforming into an animal

Transforming into an animal is called zoomorphism, and to dream of yourself becoming an animal indicates you’re losing your social constraints, and becoming more free and spontaneous. It may be a way of expressing your newly found independence and freedom. 

Another interpretation is that transforming into an animal points to parts of your personality that are repressed or denied, but instead should be understood and managed.

To decipher the dream you have to understand the meaning of the animal you’ve become, but also what happens in the dream. To Jung, the ending of the dream was the key to unlocking it’s meaning. 

Positive or happy endings mean the dream wants to guide us towards constructive solutions, while unfavorable dream endings indicate negative changes ahead. 

To dream of animal’s skin likely means you have acquired the dream animal’s abilities, or on the contrary, that you desire the abilities and power of the dream animal.

Dreams of cold blooded animals or reptiles

For mammals and warm blooded animals like ourselves, reptiles and cold blooded beings are alien and unknown, and often represent some of our more savage and irrational instincts and urges.

Dreams of hybrid or mixed animals

Dreaming of animals blended together, as in half-animal, half-man, could indicate confusion in dealing with a situation in real life. Could it be that the qualities of the animals in the dream need to be combined and assimilated? 

There is also the possibility that the dreamer sees a way to achieve personal growth and complete themselves in some way.

Dreams of domestic animals

Dreaming of a domestic animal symbolizes your subconscious instincts and desires that you’ve managed to control but also channel in the directions you want.

Nevertheless, you still must take care of these animals, otherwise they may rebel if their needs are unmet. 

Dreams about buying or selling animals may indicate tensions between the dreamer and their closest relationships. The dreamer selling an animal could symbolize delays and frustrations, and highlights a need for inner calm to help the dreamer through until the problem is resolved.

Dreams of killing or eating an animal

Attempting to kill the animal within your subconscious can cause tension, depression, and illness, but giving in entirely to it’s desires is not the asnwer, since our conscious mind needs to express itself too.

In order to grow and mature, we need to confront and relate to our ‘animal instincts’, and if possible, find how to channel them in a healthy way during awake life.

Dreaming of eating an animal suggests you’re searching for inner wisdom and energy, however, you may also be seeking sensual pleasure.

Dreams of neglecting an animal

A common dream symbol representing neglect of your inner nature, or some part of your personality. 

As an example of such a dream: someone might give you an animal to take care of while they leave on vacation, but you completely forget about it and later find it starving, injured, or even dead.

Dreams like these remind us that we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and our needs whatever they may be: nutrition, sexual, romantic etc.

Parts of animals in dreams

A four-legged animal missing a leg or legs hints at a personality that is not fully developed.

Dreaming of a tail could indicate you need to find balance and stability in difficult circumstances.

If claws appear prominently in the dream they highlight feelings of spitefulness, desires to hurt, hidden aggression, clinging, or clawing someone.

Dreams where you’re watched, attacked or chased by an animal

A person who is watched, attacked, or chased by an animal may be feeling controlled or threatened either by their own instincts and urges, or even by the emotions and desires of others. 

A stalking animal is your unconscious reminding you not to forget or neglect the part of your personality represented by the animal. 

Animals attacking you could indicate that you are engulfed in a rage you fear you might unleash. The message in such a dream is to express or deal with your anger in a controlled manner. 

An animal chasing you in a dream suggests you are running away from a part of your personality that wants to express itself in waking life.

If you are trying to escape from animals – either defending yourself or fleeing – signifies a struggle with instincts that threaten your safety in everyday life. 

Often times, dreams of being attacked or threatened by animals indicate that you are suppressing your instincts – perhaps because you are too buttoned up – and need to loosen up. 

If you are bitten by an animal, it may indicate that someone close to you is aggressive, or that your own aggressive instincts are out of control. 

If a sinister animal threatens you, you may be concerned about how well you manage your emotions.

Dreams of wild animals

Wild animals in our dreams symbolize deep-seated instincts, the pure “you” that is unconstrained by social conventions and norms. 

In Freud’s view, dreams of wild animals reflect our most sensual desires, or even our hiden ‘evil instincts’. The more wild and dangerous the beast, the greater the danger of that suppressed aspect of yourself breaking free from your conscious control and forcing you to deal with that aspect of yourself in waking life.

To dream of many wild animals at once indicates you need to tame, control and direct multiple aspects of your personality and integrate them into a single force.

Dreaming of taming or harnessing a wild animal implies controlling your instincts and making them useful and productive in your waking life.

Dreams of talking animals

Dreaming about wise animals suggests that you are receiving important information from your intuition or inner wisdom. Thousands of years of life experience has created this intuitive wisdom within each of us.

Around the world, animals and animal-headed beings are often portrayed as symbols of wisdom and holiness.

A dream where animals can talk symbolizes a wisdom within yourself that is innocent and simple. In addition, it could symbolize the potential you have to reach your full potential.

How to interpret other different animals

Dream animals represent instinctual reactions to situations, such as fighting or fleeing, the search for a mate and the protection of our young, the desire to achieve status within a group, and so forth.

In dreams, animals can often serve as symbols for instincts that need to be understood, expressed or controlled in some way. Our approach to life can be more instinctive and simple if we understand what animals represent in dreams.

Remember, though, that wild animals and domesticated animals have very different meanings when they appear in dreams. A domesticated animal, such as a dog or rabbit, represents those urges we can control and are therefore less likely to fight back against our conscious desire to control them.

Wild animals however, such as the gorilla, are much more threatening to our ego’s, but the same wild animals also offer greater potential for growth if we can build a relationship with them.

Resources and references:

  • A dictionary of symbols by Cirlot, Juan Eduardo
  • A dictionary of symbols  by Chevalier, Jean
  • Dictionary of symbols by Chetwynd, Tom
  • A dictionary of dream symbols : with an introduction to dream psychology by Ackroyd, Eric
  • Illustrated dictionary of symbols in eastern and western art by Hall, James
  • Dictionary of symbols and imagery by Vries, Ad de
  • Symbolism : a comprehensive dictionary by Olderr, Steven
  • Dictionary of mythology, folklore and symbols by Jobes, Gertrude
  • The complete dictionary of symbols by Tresidder, Jack
  • The dream dictionary from A to Z by Francis-Cheung, Theresa
  • 1001 dreams by Altman, Jack
  • The Watkins dictionary of dreams by Reading, Mario
  • Dictionary of dreams : interpretation and understanding by Colin, Didier
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