Animals in Your Dreams

The animals we dream of express the wealth of our own feelings and depth of our unconscious understanding of life.

Few of the things we do as an individual in today’s world are uniquely human. Like other animals we build dwellings, we eat, sleep and reproduce. We care for our young with the same passion and self sacrifice seen in other mammals. We follow leaders and develop hierarchy as do wolves and primates. Above all else, we share with our fellow creatures our existence in a physical body we have inherited from a long line of forebears and pre-human animals. From this long past we carry traits and urges, fears and dispositions that underpin our self aware human personality. In dreams, these largely unconscious responses to what we face in life are shown as animals. See Animals in your Brain

For instance some of these traits we know as the flight, fight or freeze response; as the new born baby’s instinct to suckle and bond with its parent; as our urge to find a partner and mate; and particularly we see it in the drive to survive and thrive. But there are many more subtle aspects of the animal inheritance we carry with us. Some of these we see in our social behaviour, as when we shrewdly asses a person’s character, or discover what we call the ‘chemistry’ that exists between us and another person. Such things arise largely from our unconscious intuitions and senses. Such senses and responses were developed over millions of years by our animal forbears. In fact we are like a small face on top of a long line of beautiful animals.

This ancient heritage that dreams portray as our animal is not simply a psychological belief. It is built into our body and is very evident in the fact that we have three interwoven brains. The most ancient brain, one we share with reptiles and birds is called the R complex – R for reptilian. This part of your brain deals with deeply instinctive behaviour such as flight or fight, swallowing, automatic reflexes, inbuilt mating behaviour, territorial defence and aggression. This R complex developed about 200 million years ago and is still an underpinning part of what influences your behaviour today. Dreams often portray these urges in you as snakes or lizards.

The second part of your brain is called the Limbic System. This is wrapped around the R complex, and is something we share with other mammals such as cats, dogs and horses. It developed about 60 million years ago and deals with your emotions, feelings responses to people and events, the subtler inner life you feel in love and sex, and it provides a deep wisdom about social and individual relationships. Dreams often use mammals or apes to portray the influence in your life of this part of your unconscious drives and intuitions.

Many people are frightened or terrified of their dream animals. That is rather like being terrified of a picture on a cinema screen, for dreams are nothing more than moving images on the screen four sleeping mind. Like a computer game you can be attacked or even killed many times but you are still whole and unhurt. Face up to the animals in your dreams and make friends of them, because they are really helpful assets to have. See Inner World

Useful questions:

Is there any concern about the animal’s health?

Is there an indication the animal has been injured?
Does love, caring or affection enter into the dream?

The third part of your brain is the Cortex. This is unique to humans and takes up five sixths of the brain mass. It deals with all the things that are distinctly human, such as logical thought, writing, analysis, self awareness and conscious movements.

An American advertising company, describing these three brains in its instructions to planning advertising campaigns says, “Our Reptilian Brain is more powerful than the Limbic (emotional) Brain, which in turn is more powerful that the Cortex (thinking) Brain. It is best to take all three brains into account when planning a marketing/branding campaign.” See Animals.

Meeting your dream animals

What has been said about your three brains and what sort of dream arises from them is of course a generalisation. When you are looking at your own animal dreams you want to know specifically how they refer to you. So we will move from the general to the specific in looking at the dream meanings of animals such as a dog, cat, snake, horse, tiger and elephant. Those are mentioned because they are, in the order given, the most frequently dreamed of animals.

As explained in an earlier chapter, these are not to be thought of as symbols. They are more like computer desktop icons that if you connect with them lead you to awareness of, and ability to work with, what are usually unconscious processes in you. To gain even the beginnings of insight into your dream animals, you first need to remember that you as a person are a tiny spark of consciousness. You are a little bit of self awareness riding an incredibly ancient animal you call your body. Remember that your body has formed from cells and genetic information that has gradually developed over millions of years. It holds that information in it unconsciously. To actually make a living connection with your dream animals see Acting in your Dream


To gain an understanding of your dream animals, it is helpful to imagine that you are the keeper of a prehistoric type of human being. As such you would need to be aware what the correct diet is for this big creature; what type of dwelling it needs; what are its sexual and emotional needs; what frightens it or causes it stress; what amount of exercise keeps it healthy, what its stages of growth are and how it can best develop through those stages; and what satisfies it in relationships with others of its kind? Your animal dreams are showing you exactly those issues. They are giving you insight into how to care for the instinctive, the spontaneous and natural in you.

Therefore ask yourself the following questions about your animal dreams, and write down any responses. If the answer is no to a question, move on the next one:

Is your dream animal struggling to survive?

Survival is the most powerful and fundamental drive in your body and personality. Survival skills today are often linked with managing to remain alive in difficult terrain or harsh countryside, but we all live in the midst of challenges even in civilised surroundings. Your everyday social, work and political environments confront you with enormous difficulties. Also, every cell in your being is trying to survive. Your body and its systems are constantly involved in maintaining balance amidst powerful counter influences, or even against your own bad habits. Understanding what difficulties you face in surviving, and what resources you have to handle them is a huge step toward a better life. If you had the reptilian brain and the mammalian brains removed you would not function.

Therefore define if you can what your dream animal is struggling with or against in its efforts to survive. Look for connections with your everyday life. In doing so remember that the dream is putting into graphic form, perhaps like a mime, something that needs to be lifted into everyday words and perceptions.

We all have so many aspects to what we need in life to survive as a whole person. We might be doing very well in work or social recognition, but our need for warmth and love might be struggling. So it is helpful to list the facets of your own life, such as physical health, mental health and vitality, emotional needs, finance, acclaim, and so on, and asses their survival rating.

Is the animal domesticated or wild?

This illustrates the difference between urges within yourself that you have completely socialised or learned to cooperate with, and those that are in conflict with your conscious actions or what other people expect of you. An example of this can be seen in youthful rebellion, and in the difference between what is instinctive and spontaneous in a young person, such as aggression or fear, and what is expected of them by others. The rebellious youth might allow their unsocialised urges to express as criminal acts, or disruptive social behaviour. On the other hand they might express it in the form of music or art that, while it is still anti establishment, is rewarded, as with the Rolling Stones.

So the need here is to recognise what of your feelings or urges are involved, and ask yourself if the wild is healthy as it is, or does it need a better relationship with your social or work activities? On the other hand, sometimes social restraints or needs deaden the spontaneous and natural in oneself, and so need to be reduced for greater personal harmony.

  • Is there any concern about the animal’s health?
  • Is there an indication the animal has been injured?
  • Does love, caring or affection enter into the dream?

We have inherited and enlarged the great tenderness and care seen in other mammals.

  • Are sexual feelings involved?
  • Does the animal show unusual intelligence or ability to speak?
  • Is the animal giving advice or showing you something?
  • Are baby animals involved?
  • Is the animal attacking or being attacked?
  • Is there a herd or group of these animals?
  • Has the animal been neglected or mutilated?
  • Are you trapped by or running away from an animal?


-Abi 2016-03-22 20:10:26

Can’t find anything on a dream I had. I dreamt me and my mum helped an Orangutan give birth. My mum kept telling me to comfort the orangutan who had her arms around my neck and look scared while my mum delivered her babies. There were tons of baby orangutans my guess would be about 15.

Was wondering what this dream meant?

-aidan demoret 2016-03-02 1:22:57

I don’t have large dreams, but I would like to know maybe a guess as to what my dream means. The angel of my dream is looking at the moving ground to my right. There is a vibrantly white fox walking just barely behind me, about an inch. We just walk on the grass for a little while together and then done.

    -aidan demoret 2016-03-02 11:22:31


    -aidan demoret 2016-03-02 11:23:07


-Merissa Steele 2016-01-19 21:13:22

Hi there,
I had a dream last night about a horse I used to own. I’m only curious about this dream because this horse was my other half. But in the dream all people of all sorts and families were going trail riding in the snow. Out of nowhere my horse appeared hurt and stuck on top of the mountain and when I looked up my old best friend was helping her and I immediately ran up to help freaking out. When I got up there SnowFire the horse got up and ran around bucking and rearing to calm down and walk toward the center of the rock to me with her head lowered. I went to start petting her and fix her saddle and she started speaking to me about how the saddle hurt and people weren’t treating her right. So I immediately took all her equipment off and fitted her correct equipment off and loaded her into the trailer with my best friends horse. Next thing I know I’m waking up (still in the dream) in the snow but I’m having a vision of a guy driving really fast and drunk and he crashed the truck and flips the trailer and down into a ditch. I physically woke up then and couldn’t go back to sleep… Is there any meaning to this?!?

-Karen 2016-01-16 14:49:50

hello I was wondering if you can help me understand this dream I was in a country it seems I must’ve been a messenger. There was this wild bore chasing me and I ran into this house and told everybody in the village to gather everything and be safe this bore was attacking me. I proceeded to get the whole village to cooperate and everybody was in their place hiding. There was a sudden vibration and noise, a herd of wild animals came through the town, then another herd of animals wild came through town and then a third set of wild animals came through the town and we were all safe thereafter.

What should I understand about all this?

Thank you

-Stephanie 2016-01-09 9:40:20

I had a dream that me and my husband were together. I don’t know where but it was outdoors some place. A gorilla ran towards us and toke a dump. I don’t know what to make of that.

-Deepika 2015-12-06 6:12:21

I had a dream today that there are dogs and cats coming from outside, are sleeping in my house all over. German shephard, labrador were the two dogs. The cat was black. There was a very tiny monkey which was playing around in my house.
And I was totally freaked out! I was eacaping those places out of fear. I was moving from one room to the other as I was discovering animals in the rooms.

Also, in one instance, I felt that something has hurt my leg from behind. When I turned around to see what has hurt me, there was a black and white cat sleeping.

    -Anna - Tony's Assistant 2015-12-14 11:47:05

    Dear Deepika – I will have a look at your dream, but because it is your creation I advise you to explore it for yourself as well;
    The house is a many sided representation of yourself and – among other things – it can show your beliefs and what is going on in your inner world.
    In your dream you become aware that you cannot run from yourself and what is part of your inner world, which is symbolised by this part of your dream; “I was moving from one room to the other as I was discovering animals in the rooms.”
    I believe that the end of your dream expresses what causes your fear for “the animals in your inner world”.
    There is an expression that “ignorance is bliss”- which might be true in certain circumstances – and your dream shows that in this case ignorance, in the sense of not being aware, can hurt you; make you lose confidence and feel afraid.
    Your sleeping black and white cat suggests that you are not aware yet of the dualistic way you perceive your (inner) world and becoming aware of that – waking up to it – will probably help you to stop hurting yourself with your way of thinking and perceiving;
    Black and white is a symbol of the opposites appearing together. In our mind the good and bad coexist, and one balances the other;
    Perhaps you feel like exploring your fear for the sleeping animals in your dream?
    Could it be the unknown, as in not knowing what could happen when they “wake up”; if they will be “good or bad”?
    What do you feel when you explore the symbol of the monkey in your dream?
    Let me know if you have any questions Deepika.
    Anna 🙂

-Jessica 2015-10-04 5:44:43

Hi there, would you please give me some insight into my dream?

I dreamt that I was in my house, there was a very big snake, a baby elephant and another animal but I can’t remember what animal it was. The snake ate up the baby elephant and the other animal, and it grew to a huge size after devouring the two animals. After that it proceeded to bare it’s fangs at me, but my mum stepped in and slit the snake’s throat / slit it’s head off.

Could you please help me to interprete what is the dream about? The dream was so vivid, however I didn’t really feel scared in the dream.

Thank you!!

-Kim 2015-09-20 22:27:14

Most of the time I can figure out what my dreams are telling me but this time I’m stumped. My dream has me in a home but I do not recognize it. The house is surrounded by lions and I am frantically trying to get my dogs in for safety. My youngest son is there. He is 16. I also find an injured kitten in the house. His leg is bleeding. As I am bandaging the wound I wake up. Any thoughts about the meaning of this dream?

    -Anna - Tony's Assistant 2015-09-30 11:07:32

    Dear Kim – The way I see your dream is that you find yourself in a situation you have not experienced before, which is symbolised by not recognizing the home you are in.
    I wonder if your son is part of your dream because you have perceived/experienced his energy/emotions as aggressive lately and your vulnerable part – the kitten – got hurt because of that perception and/or experience.
    See also
    The dog depicts your natural drives that are well socialised, but still have the tendency to revert back to the spontaneous or ‘wild’ state quite easily. For instance your anger might usually be well under control, but if you perceive aggression in someone else – your son? – you have to do your best to not respond with anger as well; “I am frantically trying to get my dogs in for safety.”
    Clearly this is only my somewhat educated guess about what your dream could mean. 😉
    Anna 🙂

-Donna 2015-09-12 9:45:27

I dreamt that me and my husband bought 2 parrots, a peacock, an area of exotic beautiful colourful birds but I didn’t realise how many my husband had chosen, so had far to many and I was thinking who can we give some to. We waited at my mothers adj she could pick a pair but she never showed. Sorry of my life! Before this I dreamt I got a feet to Sweden alone and on arrival in the sets there were starving homeless people. Summer were trying to catch pigeons to eat. Others laid on top of each other in piles, naked and dirty.

What does this all mean? I don’t think about my mother so know it had nothing to do with her.

-Irena 2015-08-15 7:22:10

Hi there! I enjoyed reading your article and I was wondering if you could help me interpret my last night’s dream because I cannot shake off the weird feeling. I was driven in a car by one of my students (I work abroad) and the strert was so narrow like one of those near the coast. We were goibg fast and I was trying to rescue some animals on the way. However, I realised in my dream that I couldn’t same them all and I even had one kitten left to fall off from the window. At one point I almost didn’t see my pet(not real) sitting by the road so I insisted that we reverse the car and pick it up. I felt sad and helpless in my dream but at least I had something familiar, my pet, to comfort me. Thank you so much!

-Gracie 2015-07-25 13:28:28

I had a dream that an orange and white striped cat was crying out lots of distressed meows and attempting to climb a small hill but for some reason his intestines were hanging out, and I ran around looking for help but I didn’t know what to do and then I woke up… What could that possibly mean?

-Jodie 2015-05-22 22:39:41

Hi Tony,

Are you able to help me with my dream . Last night I had a dream about domesticated cats, some where relaxed purring and settled sleepy . Three of the cats had injuries on their necks were injured with a collar ring of blood, but they were alive still however sleeping . The injured cats left dream but a ginger small cat who was purring was looking at me opening its eyes and closing them proceeding to purr louder, the cat was relaxed . Can you tell me what this means please .

    -Anna - Tony's Assistant 2015-05-23 7:27:00

    Dear Jodie – Many cats also purr when they get hurt or are in pain which might be a way to soothe itself.
    The neck may indicate the way your “cat part” connect your thinking (your head) with your
    feelings and sexuality (your body).
    The injuries from the collar suggests that you have restrained or controlled (your sexual) urges/needs with your beliefs/thoughts to such a degree that they have hurt you and I believe that you are not aware yet – “still however sleeping” – that the collars have been removed already.
    The injured cats leaving the dream could be a message to leave your past behind all the way and to start anew with “a small ginger cat”; red represents ones basic emotions, earthy nature, and sexuality. In this sense it depicts your strength or vitality and your down to earth health and power.
    The ginger cat opening its eyes and looking at you is a start to become more aware, to consciously connect with this part in yourself and this cat might be purring for a different reason.
    And so your dream represents your beautiful healing and growth process and to continue it I feel at this point it mainly needs your becoming aware of it.
    and please read
    Since communication – purring – is a recurring symbol in your dream I also feel it will be helpful to try “talking as the cat” as it will function as a means towards more understanding/awareness as well.
    Good Luck!
    Anna 🙂

      -Jodie 2015-05-26 12:41:05

      Thank you Anna .. Would you class my current situation as the past? Or the 20 years ago past that has spoken some home truths on feelings.. What you have written about hurt is the current situation …

        -Anna - Tony's Assistant 2015-05-27 11:40:59

        Dear Jodie – The unconscious – your dream creator – can be helpfully likened to a person; it is your best and loving friend. It knows you intimately as no one else does.
        It is intelligent, responsive, is moved by meaningful communication and relatedness. To gain the help of this potent power in yourself, you need its co-operation.
        It is your unconscious which also created this part of the dream “Three of the cats had injuries on their necks were injured with a collar ring of blood, but they were alive still however sleeping. The injured cats left dream”.
        So why not ask your dream creator/your unconscious what the meaning is of that part of your dream and how to exchange the injured cats for a ginger small cat in your inner world?
        Anna 🙂

-Aubrey 2015-02-13 18:50:11

Hi Tony. I was hoping you could help me undertand a dream I had earlier today. I can’t stop thinking about it and it has really puzzled me. In the beginning of the dream I was sitting in my backyard, in a chair. I looked towards the woods and noticed a large shadowy figure some ways off heading in my general direction. I didn’t feel scared just very curious. The shadowy shape was that of a large elephant, at least 3 stories high and a man standing on his back. They emerged from the woods and stopped right in front of me. There was nothing draped on the elephant and no harness. The man standing there was very calm. He seemed to be of mature and spiritual, intellect.. but that’s all I remember feeling about him. My dream then went a little hazy and I was then in my room. The next thing I remember, a baby elephant (the size of a full grown house cat) dropped into my room by my dresser and I rushed over to the elephant very concerned to see if it had been injured. It was barely able to open its eyes, but not because of injury, but because it was in a state of just being born. It was not injured. I coddled the the baby in a very loving and motherly way. I rubbed its head and I remember it’s eyes staring into mine and us forming some kind of connection. After this, my dream seemed to have lasted for years in which only “flashbacks” of the elephant maturing and going on adventures seemed to run through my head. The very end of my dream I was laying with the elephant, which had grown and was now slightly smaller than myself. I remember feeling very lovingly towards the elephant and us combining our genitals in a very fond way. The elephant had no sexual orientation, no distinctive form of genitalia. I just remember after what seemed to me a normal length of time, we came to pleasure with each other. I felt extremely at peace and then I awoke. –I felt happy but confused while remembering my dream. I feel it might mean something good but at the same time, the whole taboo connection I had with the elephant really confused me. I’ve never had a dream anything like this and would really like to know if you have any kind of insight on what this might be about. Thank you. <3

-Tara 2015-01-17 18:08:54

Hi, I just read your articles and it’s very informative and was a wonderful and insightful read. I am always seeking the meaning of my dreams and I have very vivid ones that usually have such a strong message. I’ve dreamt of frogs and elephants, however last night I dreamt of apes, who were wild in the jungle. For some reason I rescued or took a young male chimpanzee and it’s mother as well a male gorilla looking ape. I took them to my house and were very concerned about their health. I made fruit salads and told them they can go to the garden for fresh air or if they wanted to eat some bugs. I kept them beside the dinner table during food. But my parents were not fond of it and couldn’t entirely understand why I am doing this. The first night they slept downstairs in a big cage. The next day They were picking fleas off each and grooming each other which made me worry as to how I can treat the fleas but then mother of the chimpanzee came up to me and started checking my hair. Then soon I had them sleeping in my room… The male gorilla found it hardest to warm up to me and I was always suspecting that it could harm me. But I treated him the same and tried not to let fear of that over take the care that I had for the three. I’ve always liked apes but never really think anything or much about them. I can’t seem to understand what this is….

-Ann-Marie Latimer 2014-11-28 21:28:46

hi j was wondering if you could help me witb my dream to try givr me some enlightment. last night i dreamt of finding an injured rainbow lorikeet or some other type of small colourful parrot, anyway i found him hurt down in some bushes amd went to walk off realising he was injured then i caught him in a towel and managed to take him inside. i then placed him in the cage still wrapped in the towel and last thing i vaguely remember was getting the bird to eat from my hands.

    -Tony Crisp 2015-01-14 13:14:30

    Ann-Marie – I wonder how your colourful sense of freedom has been hurt. Because if I am right you have become aware of it and are caring for it. But you are keeping it caged, maybe because of the hurt. But as soon as possible let yourself, your imagination and creativity be free again. But find out for yourself by using


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