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Bichons frises are very popular dogs. With active temperaments and friendly personalities, they are often chosen by families looking to liven up their household a little. They have beautiful soft white coats, and their size and shape lends them the appearance of little teddy bears.
Many people assume that bichons frises do not require much food since they are small. This is why it is important to do adequate research about your pet and their eating habits as well as what diet you should be feeding them before you bring them home – especially for small and active breeds like the bichon frise.
That’s exactly what we’ll look at today.
How Many Calories Should a Bichon Frise Eat in a Day?
Generally, a dog’s diet and calorie intake is dependent on their weight, just like humans. Their activity levels are also often taken into consideration; older pets often require fewer calories due to their more subdued nature than puppies, for example.
Bichons frises typically weigh between 10 and 18 pounds, and as such their require calorie intake has quite a large difference depending on which end of that scale the dog sits on.
Elderly and inactive bichons frises should eat between 296 and 495 calories per day, with the upper limit suiting heavier dogs. Average adult bichons frises should be eating between 404 and 663 calories per day, again with the heavier dogs eating closer to the top of the range.
For young bichons frises, this changes. When in the first year of life, bichons frises should be fed close to 663 calories each day to allow them to grow fully with the correct nutrients. This also helps them to stay healthy and full of energy as they grow, which is important when puppies are bonding with new families and pets.
Bichons frises tend to be fully grown within a year, and after that, you can feed your pet based on their weight and activity levels.
Bichon Frise Puppy Diet and Eating Habits
Since puppies are doing much more growing than older bichons frises, they have different dietary requirements and you should enforce different eating habits.
The biggest difference is that bichon frise puppies should eat more frequently throughout the day. This is for a few different reasons but is largely because puppies have smaller stomachs than older dogs, and so cannot eat large portions like older dogs can. It also allows you to monitor your pet’s appetite which is often an important telltale way to monitor their health!
For bichons frises aged 0 to 3 months, you should feed them 4 times a day. For dogs aged 3 to 5 months, this can decrease to 3 times a day, and then after about 6 months, you can progress to feeding your bichon frise 2 times a day, in the morning and the evening. To split your pet food, just measure out how much food fits the required calories for your pet, and then evenly split that portion into 4, 3, or 2 smaller portions.
Within your puppy’s daily meals there should be enough protein, fat, and carbohydrates to allow them to grow and take energy from the food. This should work out at about 331 calories of protein, 99 calories of fat, and 165 calories of carbohydrates. Puppies will also benefit from omega-3 fatty acids which are often found in fish, as they contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which aids in brain and eye development.
Puppy bichons frises also need a very specific amount of calcium; it helps with growth, but too much calcium can put bichons frises at risk of urolithiasis. Phosphorus is also necessary for puppy growth, and good dog food will have a ratio of 1 part phosphorus to 1.2 parts calcium in order to encourage growth.
To ensure your puppy is getting all of the nutrients that they need, you can check the ingredients on any commercial dog food and weigh out their portions daily. Alternatively, you can make your own raw food or cooked food to target each desired food group.
Adult Bichon Frise Diet and Eating Habits
Adult bichons frises should be fed twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. This keeps them full and well-fed throughout the day and still allows you to keep an eye on their appetite. Many bichons frises are “grazers,” meaning they might not eat it all the second you put the food down but will instead pick at their meal throughout the day. To make sure you are giving your pet enough food, split their daily requirements in two and serve in two sittings.
When it comes to picking food for your pet, the food should have roughly 55 to 75% animal protein, 15 to 18% fat, and 25% carbohydrates. This works out as around 225 calories of protein, 55 calories of fat, and 95 calories of carbohydrates.
As dogs get older, their diets will likely need to change. You might find that your senior dog will lose weight as many senior bichons frises lose some sense of smell or taste, which can drastically impact their appetite. Subsequently, they will need more calorific food or more regular meals.
Alternatively, you might find that they might become less active and will gain weight, so you have to adjust your pets’ diet accordingly. Most senior pets will require more protein as without it they might lose muscle and immune system function.
If you’re unsure what changes to make, it is best to speak to your vet as your pet ages to discuss what dietary changes should be made and to ensure that you’re caring for them as best you can.
FAQs About Bichon Frise Diet
With the basics out of the way, below are answers to some of the most common questions related to a bichon frise’s eating habits.
Which Type of Dog Food Is the Best?
Many bichons frises suffer from dental problems, including gingivitis (gum disease). This can make eating painful for them and can ultimately lead to them losing weight and becoming ill. One way to help fight this is to use dental treats, but another way to help your bichon frise keep their teeth clean is by feeding them kibble.
The texture of kibble works like a toothbrush and helps to keep the teeth clean of plaque and other debris that might make its way into your pet’s mouth. You can choose to serve kibble to your pet dry, which is best for teeth cleaning purposes, or wet.
Canned food, on the other hand, has much more water in it. This is also useful for bichons frises as they often suffer from bladder stones and urolithiasis (calcium stones in the urinary tract), and keeping them hydrated can help to prevent both of these conditions. Canned food is definitely a better option for any dogs at particular risk of either of these (i.e if their parents had it, or if they have suffered from either in the past).
There has been some research done into a raw diet with pets, and it would appear there are some benefits. Some owners reported better breath, healthier coats, and less flatulence. But this diet is also more expensive.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
In terms of dog food, it is best to opt for food with whole grains, as these are much easier for dogs to digest. Dog food with whole grains, vegetable oil, fish oil, and carbohydrates is ideal to keep your bichon frise’s coat healthy and glossy.
Many bichon frises suffer from stomach problems and allergies to corn, soy, wheat, and cornmeal, so it might be worth avoiding these ingredients in dog food. It is also worth avoiding broccoli, milk, and soy as these can contribute to urolithiasis in your bichon frise.
As with all dogs, human food such as chocolate, grapes, garlic, and sugary foods should be avoided, as these are not compatible with the canine digestive system. You might also want to avoid tomatoes, beetroot, and artificially colored foods with your bichon frise, as they will stain your pet’s fur.
Is Your Bichon Frise Overweight?
With most dogs, the simplest way to tell if they are a healthy weight is by feeling along their sides. If you can just about feel the outline of their ribs without having to probe or push at the skin, they are a healthy weight. If you can feel the ribs protruding, they are likely underweight, and if you cannot feel them, they are likely overweight.
Should you notice that your pet’s weight is not right, you can make the necessary changes at home (i.e walk them more, feed them more/less) or you can visit your vet for recommendations on how to change your pet’s diet and lifestyle.
For more details on this, read my article about how much a bichon frise should weigh.
Why Is It Important for Your Bichon Frise to Have an Optimal Diet?
Bichons frises have short legs and long backs, which means they are prone to intervertebral disc disease, which can often be exacerbated by a poor diet or being overweight. Likewise, conditions common in bichons frises like bladder stones and urolithiasis can be combatted through proper diet, keeping your pet healthy, and keeping your vet bills down.
Dog nutrition has also been linked to a range of long-term health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, anxiety, allergies, arthritis, asthma, and even digestive disorders like leaky gut.
It is crucial for your bichon frise’s physical and mental health that you ensure they get a well-balanced diet day in and day out. Whilst they are only small dogs, they burn more calories per pound than some other, larger breeds.
Their diet will change as they get older, and it is important for you to keep an eye on their appetite as they age to best accommodate them and keep them free from any health scares.