The fluffy white Bichon Frise is a small, playful dog who needs a high-quality diet that can pack into diminutive meals all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals required for excellent health. Careful management of your dog's weight, and attention to the ingredients in the diet, can help to prevent some potential bichon frise health issues, including allergies and back problems.
Bichon frises weigh between 10 and 18 pounds. Based on this weight, inactive or elderly bichons need between 296 and 495 calories per day, while active bichons or those participating in dog shows will require between 404 and 663 calories per day, according to the National Research Council of the National Academies. Bichons in the first year of life should be fed the higher amount of calories required for an active bichon frise. Look for foods labeled as appropriate for your bichon's life stage -- puppy, adult or senior. These foods contain a correct balance of ingredients and calories for these stages.
Divide your adult bichon's recommended daily ration in two, and feed your pet in the morning and evening. Pups should be fed three meals per day. This allows your bichon, who has a small stomach, to eat appropriately small meals, and lets you monitor your dog's appetite.
Types of Food
Canned dog food and dry kibble each offer different advantages for your bichon frise's health. The crunchy texture of dry dog food helps to scrape plaque from your dog's teeth. This is an important consideration for bichon frises, as the breed is prone to dental problems, according to Dog Channel. Canned food does not offer the plaque-removal benefit, but it contains significantly more water. Canned dog foods are about 75 percent water, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. High water content is important for bichon frises at risk for developing bladder stones, according to the Bichon Frise Club of America.
Canned and dry dog food can be mixed to get the advantages of both. If you combine foods, compute how much of each type your dog needs to meet caloric recommendations without overeating. Whether you feed your bichon canned or dry food, keep plenty of fresh water available at all times.
Look for foods labeled as meeting Association of American Feed Control Officials standards. Foods that meet AAFCO standards will provide complete and balanced nutrition for an adult dog or puppy, as specified on the label, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These foods contain at least 18 percent protein if they are for adult dogs and 22 percent protein for growing pups or nursing mothers, according to the AAFCO nutrient profiles of dog food. During the first year of your bichon frise's life, provide food specifically labeled for puppies.
Select a food for your bichon frise that lists a whole protein such as poultry, fish or beef as the first ingredient on the label. Because ingredients are listed in decreasing order by weight, the first named ingredients should include proteins, carbohydrates, grains, vegetables and fats. Whole grains such as barley, quinoa, barley, or brown rice provide your bichon frise with fiber and carbohydrates. They also are easier to digest than other types of grains, according to Dogster. Look for foods that contain vegetable and fish oils as healthy sources of fats and Omega-3 fatty acids. These help to keep your bichon's thick, white coat shiny and soft. Fats and carbohydrates also fuel the bichon frise's active life.
Avoid feeding your pet ingredients such as beet pulp, tomato pomace or artificial colorings, which can contribute to tear staining and can stain your bichon's white muzzle, according to the Bichon Frise Club of America.
Allergies are the biggest medical issues affecting bichon frises, the Bichon Frise Club of America says. These include contact, inhalant and food allergies. If you notice that your bichon frise has itchy skin or hair loss, take your pet to a veterinarian to determine the cause. Your veterinarian may recommend an elimination diet for your dog to determine the source of the allergy. This procedure involves changing to a hypoallergenic diet for a number of weeks. When symptoms are gone, ingredients may be added one-by-one until symptoms reappear in order to identify the allergen. While any food ingredient can trigger an allergy, proteins, corn, soy, wheat and cornmeal are common allergy sources. Soybeans and corn can also contribute to the formation of calcium-oxalate stones in the urinary tract.
Without sufficient exercise, a bichon frise can easily become overweight. Bichons have long backs and short legs, making them prone to intervertebral disc disease, a painful condition that can cause eventual paralysis. Making certain your little dog maintains a youthful figure can go a long way toward preventing the problem. Obesity can cause other conditions known to affect bichons, including urinary stones and diabetes.
Avoid overfeeding your bichon frise. Feel the ribs to determine if your dog is too fat. Your fingers should be able to readily feel the outlines of the bones. If you can't feel them without probing, the dog is overweight. Cut the ration and consult with your veterinarian about whether a special weight-control diet is needed. These diets provide fewer calories and a higher fiber content to keep a dieting dog feeling full longer.
If you determine that the ribs are too prominent and your dog is underweight, increase the ration and consult your veterinarian to determine whether your pet has a medical issue.