Have to discuss the serious stuff here if you’re taking on a puppy. Some Bichons are prone to watery eyes, cataracts, skin and ear ailments, epilepsy and dislocated kneecaps. They can be sensitive to flea bites.
Bichon Frise in (combined) UK and USA/Canada surveys have an average life span of about 12–13 years, with Bichon Frises in the UK tending to live longer than Bichon Frises in the US/Canada. This breed’s longevity is similar to other breeds of its size, and somewhat longer than purebred dogs in general. The longest lived of 34 deceased Bichons in a 2004 UK survey died at 16.5 years.
The oldest Bichon Frises for which there are reliable records in various US/Canada surveys have died at 19 years. We want you to have the best of your years together with your Bichon Frise and for those years to be the best for him. We know you’re looking forward to it, too.
Be on the lookout for symptoms that indicate your Bichon might have liver shunts. These are common in some small breeds. These often go undetected until later in life, leading to complications that can not be fixed resulting in liver failure. Bichons who are underweight, runts of the litter, or have negative reactions to food high in protein are likely to be suffering from a shunt. When detected early, shunts can often be corrected through surgery. However, the later in life the shunt is detected, the lower the likelihood of surgery being a success. Shunts can be kept under control through special diets of low protein. The treatment of shunts can also be controlled with medications. This will support liver function and help flush toxins that build up in the kidneys and liver. The result will control seizures that often occur as a symptom of the shunt. Without surgery, Bichons with shunts live to be 4–6 years old. Owners of a smaller-than-average-size Bichon must consult a vet. Other symptoms include dark urine, lethargy, loss of appetite, an increase in drinking. Seizures come in all forms; episodes of seizures can begin early on but go undetected. Early seizures can appear to put the Bichon in a hypnotic state (staring at something not there), or to be experiencing an episode of vertigo, or being drunk. Shunts are a serious condition of smaller breeds and often not associated with Bichons.
The Bichon Frise breed is a healthy one. Buying your dog through a reputable breeder is always the best choice. Puppy mills and many backyard breeders will produce and sell puppies that have numerous health problems. Well-bred dogs of this breed, fortunately, have few health concerns.
The most common health problems affecting Bichons are not usually life-threatening. The most common problem encountered in this breed, as in other white dogs, is allergic reactions. These issues usually manifest themselves in dogs as skin problems, such as itching. Most of the time, a veterinarian can help you keep these problems under control with shampoos and topical creams. More severe cases sometimes require steroid medications. This condition is Not much different from certain people who get skin rashes or who are allergic to certain plants and insects.
Bichons can also suffer from a problem that commonly affects small dogs – tooth decay. This can start as a minor problem, but if let go, can be very harmful to the health of your dog. Regular care, such as brushing of teeth, with periodic dental cleanings, can prevent this issue and is an important part of owning a Bichon.
Bichons, like other dogs with floppy ears, are also prone to yeast in the ears. This condition is prevalent during the Spring. The yeast looks dark like grease mixed with dirt. A visit to the vet for a prescription can solve this issue. There is a similar problem, and that is the stained hair from runny eyes. Do not be alarmed. Your dog’s tears contain chemicals that react with sunlight. This is usually a cosmetic problem and can be minimized by clipping the hair close to the face or cleaning the area with a diluted solution of Hydrogen Peroxide (Caution: do not get the solution in your dog’s eye).
Other problems occasionally seen in the breed are an autoimmune disorder affecting the lungs and cancer in older dogs. Unfortunately, cancer in old dogs is common to all breeds. Patellar luxation (slippage of the kneecaps in the hind legs) also sometimes affects this breed. A healthy Bichon can live 14-16 years. Some dogs have lived as many as 18 years. Be sure to look out for these and other ailments for your dog. Finding them sooner is better than later.
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