What Is The Best Dog Food for a Bichon Frise?
Bichon Frise Food – Here’s The Scoop
The Bichon Frise is a small companion dog that is easy to recognize by its fluffy white coat. They are playful, loving, and gentle. They are also known for being intelligent and outgoing.
The breed is part of a family of bichon-type dogs that include the Havanese, the Coton de Tulear, and other small companion dogs. The Bichon Frise is believed to be descended from the Barbet or water spaniel from the Mediterranean. They are also related to the Poodle.
Bichons make excellent house and apartment dogs. They get along very well with children and other pets. They shed very little and the breed is often recommended for people who are allergic to dogs. The Bichon Frise was admitted into the AKC in 1972. Today the breed is the 44th most popular breed in the U.S.
Male Bichons Frises are about 9-12 inches tall at the withers and females are 9-11 inches tall. Bichons Frises usually weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. There is a wide range for the Bichon’s weight because it depends on the dog’s height and frame. As long as the dog looks like his weight is appropriate for his size, he should be fine. Because of the dog’s fluffy/curly coat, you should feel his body to see if he is in good condition or overweight.
Although Bichons are small dogs they can be very active. Along with being playful at home they require regular exercise every day such as long walks or a chance to run and play outside. Many owners enjoy taking part in activities such as agility, rally, obedience, and other dog sports with their Bichons. The Bichon Frise also makes a wonderful therapy dog. If your Bichon will be engaging in any of these activities you should take this into consideration when you are figuring how much work he does and how many calories he needs.
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult Bichon Frise weighing 15 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 532 calories. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need slightly fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. Growing puppies, for example, consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young Bichon puppy weighing 8 pounds needs an estimated 369 calories per day.
Bichons are small dogs so many people prefer to feed a dog food that is made for small breeds. Pound for pound, small breeds like the Bichon burn more calories than larger dogs. Small breed dog foods typically have more calories per ounce of food to help meet these calorie needs. Small breeds also tend to grow quickly during their first few months – more quickly than many large and giant breeds, for example. Many small dogs such as Bichons mature earlier than big dogs. Your Bichon can be an adult while a Great Dane is still growing for two years. Small breed puppy foods are usually a good choice for a Bichon Frise puppy to provide the calories, vitamins and minerals they require.
Feeding Your Bichon Frise
According to owners, some Bichons Frises can have gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea due to a sensitive digestive system. If this is the case with your dog you may need to feed a food for sensitive digestion or find out if your dog has food allergies or sensitivities. Most Bichons won’t have these issues but they can occur.
Small dogs like the Bichon are not able to eat large meals at one time so foods made for small breeds are usually a good choice. In addition to having more calories per ounce these foods will also have more nutrients per ounce so your Bichon will be getting the nutrition he needs.
Some Bichons Frises can be inclined to overeat so it’s a good idea to measure how much you are feeding your dog and watch his weight. Most people recommend feeding the Bichon two meals per day as an adult. Bichon puppies can eat three or four meals per day until they are old enough to switch to an adult diet.
The Bichon’s small size means that you can feed a canned food diet without breaking the bank. It’s up to you whether you choose to feed canned or kibble. There are many good foods available in both diet formats.
Bichon Frise Health Problems
Bichons Frises are generally considered to be a healthy breed, especially if you check around and get a dog from a good breeder. Like most breeds there are some health problems that can crop up but, according to the Bichon Frise Club of American, most of the common issues in the breed are not life-threatening.
Health problems that sometimes appear include: allergies – especially skin allergies; bladder infections and bladder stones; patellar luxation and disc degeneration; early tooth loss and gingivitis; and eye problems such as cataracts.
Other health problems that sometimes occur in Bichons but which are less common include some cancers, mitral valve disease (a cardiac problem), liver shunt, gastrointestinal problems, and metabolic health problems such as diabetes, Cushings disease, and pancreatitis. These health issues do not occur very frequently but they are possible.
You can find good information about Bichon Frise health issues on the Bichon Frise Club of America web site. It is not unusual for a Bichon to live well into their teen years.
Ingredients to Look for and Some to Avoid
As with most dogs, when choosing a food for your Bichon you should look for a food that has good sources of protein and fat.
Ideally you will select a dog food that features two or three meat proteins in the first several ingredients listed. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to foods such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually quite acceptable as one of the first ingredients in a good quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food brands.
Many dog foods today, even some of the most expensive and highly touted, use lots of plant proteins such as lentils and peas. These foods often have high protein percentages on the label. When you read the guaranteed analysis it’s important to consider how much of the protein in the food comes from meat and how much comes from plants. Your dog is able to digest meat protein more easily than plant protein. Meat protein is a much more natural source of protein for your dog than plant protein.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy. Puppies can benefit from DHA which is Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain and eye development. Older dogs seem to benefit from medium chain triglycerides which feature medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These have been found to help older dogs feel and act younger. They are often made from a combination of coconut oil and other oils.
If you want to avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your dog food, your Bichon Frise may still be able to eat an alternative grain. Or you can feed a grain free dog food that uses an alternate source of carbs such as sweet potatoes. You don’t have to feed a dog food with an excessively high percentage of protein but it’s a good idea to keep the carb percentage low to moderate.
If your Bichon Frise has a food allergy or food sensitivity, you may need to work with your veterinarian to identify the food triggers unless they are very obvious. There are lots of good foods with alternative meat proteins today as well as limited ingredient diets which we will discuss below.
Recommended Dog Food For An Adult Bichon Frise
Every dog is an individual and that’s true with Bichons, too. Not only do dogs have different needs depending on their age and activity level, but they can need different foods if they have allergies, if they are overweight, and for other reasons.
We are recommending a variety of foods for the Bichon Frise. Some have grains and some don’t. We have selected foods without corn, wheat, and soy unless otherwise noted. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your dog. You should also keep in mind that your dog’s diet needs can change as he grows and ages so you may have to change foods to accommodate him.
Best Dog Foods for Bichon Frise Adults
Farmina is an Italian brand of dog food that has been available in the U.S. for a couple of years. This formula is grain, gluten, and GMO-free. It uses no peas, lentils, chickpeas, or pea protein. 95 percent of the protein comes from animal sources. The first five ingredients in this food are deboned chicken, dehydrated chicken (source of glucosamine & chondroitin sulfate), potato, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dehydrated egg product. The other meat source in the food is herring. We know people who have tried this food and they rave about it. If you have a dog who needs to avoid grains we think this food would be very good. Crude protein 37 percent, crude fat 18 percent, crude fiber 2.6 percent, moisture 10 percent.
Avoderm has several foods in their “revolving menu” line and this is one of them. The foods can be rotated so your dog gets different meat proteins. The foods are grain free and gluten-free so they should be good for any Bichon who needs to avoid grains. They use garbanzo beans and peas as carb sources. You don’t need to worry about avocados for your dog. The green flesh of the avocado will not hurt your dog. It’s only the pit and the green skin that pose any risk. Avocados are a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fatty acids and other nutrients. The first five ingredients in this food are Duck, Duck Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, and Pea Flour. Crude protein 25 percent, crude fat 16 percent, crude fiber 6 percent, moisture 10 percent. AvoDerm also has some good foods made specifically for small breeds.
Because of their small size, we recommend a good small breed dog food for the Bichon like Fromm Small Breed Adult Gold. Fromm is a family business that has been making dog food for generations in Wisconsin. The first three ingredients in this food are duck, chicken meal, and chicken. It has some grains such as oatmeal, pearled barley, and rice, but we think these are good fibers and good for digestion. The food is also enhanced with probiotics to aid digestion and salmon oil for the skin and coat. This is a food for growth and maintenance with 416 calories per cup. We hear great things about Fromm from everyone who feeds it. We really like the ingredients in this food.
Merrick has some great foods for dogs. The first three ingredients in this food are deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal. The recipe is 50 percent meat and desirable fats, 25 percent vegetables, vitamins, and minerals, and 25 percent whole grains like brown rice, barley, and oats. This is all-natural pet food made from high quality ingredients. No by-products, no artificial preservatives. They also use local growers from Texas, where the food is made. Merrick also has some canned foods that are very popular.
Dog foods that are completely organic are rare but Castor & Pollux Organix Small Breed Grain Free Adult Dog Food has a lot of organic ingredients. It is made in the U.S. The first ingredient is organic, free-range chicken. Nearly all of the ingredients are organic. It is also grain free with organic peas, organic flaxseed, and other organic ingredients grown without chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, artificial preservatives, added growth hormones, or antibiotics. They use no corn or wheat. This is one of the most natural dog foods you can find. If you are looking for a dog food without added chemicals for your Bichon, this food may be perfect for you.
Best Dog Foods for Bichon Frise Puppies
Small breed puppies like the Bichon Frise grow quickly. They typically reach adult size early. This means that they usually do best on a small breed puppy food that contains more calories than ordinary puppy foods. However, it’s still important that the calcium to phosphorus ratio be correct for small breeds. The recommended ratio should be about 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, though there is some slight room for variation such as 1.5:1. Most puppy foods should have a calcium to phosphorus ratio in this neighborhood. It’s also important that dog and puppy foods do not have an excess (or deficiency) of calcium since this can affect bone growth.
Here are some of the puppy foods we like for Bichon Frise puppies. Note that an All Life Stage food can also be fed, as long as the nutrients are appropriate for your puppy.
No question about it: this is an expensive food. However, it has a lot desirable points. No corn, no wheat, no soy. It’s grain free, gluten-free, GMO-free, and it’s considered a limited ingredient diet. It contains no by-products, tapioca, or potatoes. It’s specifically designed for small and medium breed dogs so it’s nutrient-dense. It has a single protein and carbohydrate source and the meat is hormone-free, pesticide-free, and antibiotic-free. There’s more, but you get the idea. If you are trying to be very careful with your Bichon puppy, then this LID holistic puppy food from Canine Caviar is definitely a food you may want to consider. Canine Caviar also has several other formulas so you can rotate the proteins. This food has 31 percent crude protein, 20 percent crude fat, 5.7 percent crude fiber, 8 percent moisture. The first five ingredients are: Chicken Meal, Split Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Coconut, and Sun-Cured Alfalfa.
VeRUS Puppy Advantage is an excellent holistic food for small breed puppies. The first ingredient is chicken meal followed by easy-to-digest ground oats and ground brown rice. The formula contains DHA for proper brain development, omega-3 fatty acid from fish oils, non-Chinese sourced vitamins and chelated minerals. The food also includes a freeze-dried live probiotic that is unique among dog food manufacturers. The chicken used in their food is cage-free, U.S.-grown and guaranteed to be antiobiotic-free. VeRUS has none of the undesirable ingredients that are sometimes found in pet foods. We really like this puppy food for Bichon puppies. Any dog lover who may be concerned about chemicals or additives in pet foods should check into VeRUS.
Best Dog Foods for the Senior Bichon Frise
As noted, it’s not unusual for the Bichon Frise to live well into their teen years. This means that you will probably need to consider what kind of food to feed your dog as he gets older. As your dog ages it’s a good idea to plan an annual senior check-up with your vet. Many older dogs begin to put on pounds as they become less active. For this reason, most senior dog foods have fewer calories and they can skimp on protein. You should watch your older dog’s weight as he gets older to make sure he doesn’t become overweight. In some cases you can simply cut back on the portions of his regular dog food to help him stay fit or increase his exercise.
On the other hand, elderly dogs often start to have some problems metabolizing nutrients, including protein. It can become hard for them to keep good muscle tone and weight as they age. For this reason, you may wish to avoid many dog foods labeled “senior.” These foods are often formulated for older dogs that have gained weight. Instead, look for a senior dog food that we like which has lots of protein. As long as your older dog doesn’t have any problems with his kidneys, there is no reason to avoid higher protein levels.
Orijen Senior provides plenty of excellent quality protein for your older Bichon. This food features free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and nest-laid eggs. It helps keep older dogs in good muscle even as they become less active. Made of 80 percent meats and fish, the food is low-glycemic and has low carbs to help keep your older dog’s blood sugar steady. The food also contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your Bichon’s joints healthy. The food is 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat. It checks in at 445 kcal per 250ml/120g cup. We think this is a very good food for senior dogs who often need extra protein as they get older.
Best Dog Foods for Bichons Frises with Skin Problems/Allergies
Some Bichons can have allergies that manifest as itchy skin; or they can have other skin problems. In some cases changing your dog’s food can help. For example, red yeast is often the cause of the staining that occurs on a dog’s face from tears. Sometimes switching dog food to a food without some of the common allergens can make the staining stop. The tears themselves can be due to hair irritating your dog’s eyes or other common problems.
If your Bichon has skin problems or food allergies, here is a food we think might help. It is free of ingredients that commonly result in allergic reactions.
Any dog suffering from skin problems or food allergies may benefit from Wild Calling!’s Xotic Essentials recipes. Formulas like their rabbit meal recipe use exotic meats that are rare in today’s pet food market so your dog hasn’t eaten them before – less chance of having an allergic reaction. The foods are also highly digestible. Wild Calling! also uses what they call LITe (limited ingredient technology). They don’t use any of the ingredients commonly found in most dog foods such as chicken, grain, gluten, egg, yeast, corn, wheat or soy. If your Bichon has a food allergy, he may benefit from Wild Calling! The foods are formulated for rotational feeding and they offer several Xotic Essentials recipes, such as kangaroo and bison, so your dog doesn’t get over-exposed to one kind of meat protein. This is an All Life Stage food. We think that dogs with skin problems and food allergies can definitely benefit from these recipes.
Best Dog Foods for Bichons Frises with Sensitive Stomachs
Some dogs are susceptible to food sensitivities that affect their digestion and excretion. If your dog has a sensitive stomach it can be an indication of a food sensitivity, which is different from a food allergy. A dog with a food sensitivity will have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Or it could be something more serious.
A dog with a sensitive stomach can often be helped by feeding the right dog food. Sticking to a limited ingredient diet food with as few ingredients as possible can reduce the chance of your dog having a bad reaction to something in the food.
If your Bichon can eat potatoes, we recommend Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Potato & Duck Small Breed Bites Dry Dog Formula. This food is grain free with limited ingredients. It has good quality, alternative ingredients that are easily digestible for a dog with a sensitive stomach. And it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
However, we understand that some dogs have issues with potatoes so we also recommend AvoDerm Grain Free LID Revolving Menu Small Breed Beef Recipe. AvoDerm’s LID formulas are grain free, gluten-free, with one single animal protein source to minimize the chance of a reaction. The carbs in the food are garbanzo beans and peas. You can feed one formula or feed the AvoDerm LID foods in rotation – whichever works best for your Bichon. Don’t worry about the avocados in these foods. They will not harm your dog. They are a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fatty acids and other nutrients.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight Bichon Frises
If your Bichon becomes overweight, it may be due to overfeeding and not enough exercise. You can help your dog lose weight by cutting back on his portions and encouraging him to get more exercise.
If your Bichon needs to lose more than one or two pounds, however, you may need to consider a weight control dog food.
We do not recommend a weight control dog food for a puppy or a very old dog. These foods generally have fewer calories and may have some other differences in nutrients that make them inappropriate for growing puppies or older dogs who need special nutrition.
If you have a Bichon who needs to lose weight we recommend Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe. We like the fact that this food has 32 percent crude protein. The crude fat percentage is between 8 and 11 percent with 5 percent crude fiber so your dog should not feel like he’s starving. It is AAFCO-approved for a maintenance diet. The food has 3,210 kcal per kilogram or 360 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It is grain free and made from 55 percent beef and poultry. And it contains no corn, wheat, or soy and no ingredients from China.
If your dog needs to lose weight, you should proceed slowly. No crash dieting. You should aim for your dog to lose no more than 3 to 5 percent of his body weight per month or about one percent each week.
Most people who meet a Bichon Frise fall in love instantly. They are cute, adorable, friendly and very affectionate. They make wonderful pets and they get along with just about everyone and every other kind of animal. We hope that this look at foods for the Bichon helps you as you make your new friend feel at home.