8 Problems with Old Bichons Frises and How to Avoid Them

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Problems with Old Bichons Frises and How to Avoid ThemAs your bichon grows older, it becomes susceptible to numerous health problems. You may need to know what these issues can be in order to avoid them, provide proper care for your pup, and help it have a long, healthy, and happy life.

In the following sections, you will find out when your bichon frise is considered old and what the top common senior bichon frise problems are, so you can provide timely treatments and extend its life, and learn what you can do to make your buddy live longer.

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At What Age Can Your Bichon Frise Be Considered “Old?”

A bichon frise between 5 and 9 years old is considered middle-aged. Most bichons frises live up to 12 – 15 years, but there are also some dogs that reach their 20s. In general, dog years are said to be the equivalent of 7 human years; so, if your pooch is now 10 years old, that means they reached their senior years (70 human years old).

8 Common Senior Bichon Frise Problems

When your bichon frise reaches about 10 years old, you may notice aging signs. The following sections introduce you to the most common senior bichon frise problems, so you know how to manage your pet’s condition and help it live longer.

1. Diabetes

One of the most common problems when it comes to small breeds is diabetes.

Although it is not curable, you may have an easy time managing it once you diagnose your pooch and follow the vet’s instructions. For instance, if weight is a problem, you should help your bichon lose weight, give it daily medication, and follow the vet’s suggestions when it comes to diet and feeding schedule.

That said, when untreated, it is also one of the more common reasons for bichons frises dying. As such, make sure to take your puppy to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect it might have diabetes.

2. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is common in dogs suffering from diabetes. Essentially, pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. It means that the pancreas, an organ that should help digest fats, starts digesting itself. As a result, your pooch can no longer process dietary fats.

In case of acute pancreatitis, you need to take your pet to an emergency vet right away. If not, your dog may experience multiple organ failure, which is a fatal condition. Some symptoms associated with acute pancreatitis include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Abdomen swelling

Chronic pancreatitis develops much slower, so it can be more difficult to diagnose. Some symptoms include excessive thirst, loss of appetite, diarrhea or yellow/greasy stools, and laying down in different positions as a result of abdominal pain.

Canine pancreatitis has no cure and is a progressive disease. By the time many bichon owners realize something is wrong with their pet, most of the pancreatic tissue is already destroyed. When the pet is taken to a vet in a timely manner, medication, supplements, and proper care can help it have a longer life.

3. Urine Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are also associated with pre-existing diseases, such as diabetes. As your pooch tries to fight off other conditions, its ability to fight off UTIs decreases. Female bichons are more likely to develop UTIs because of a shorter urethra. Unfortunately, diagnosing your pet can be difficult as some UTIs have no symptoms.

In some cases, you may be able to notice some signs. These include:

  • Struggles to urinate and, when it’s finally done, there’s a large amount of urine
  • Dark urine or even blood in the urine
  • Crying when trying to urinate (because it’s painful) and immediate licking of private parts after urinating
  • Frequent urination or drops around the house
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite

If your pet has a UTI and is untreated, it can cause a kidney infection. On the good side, the treatment is quite quick and simple – all it typically needs is antibiotics prescribed by the vet.

4. Kidney Problems

Kidney problems often start appearing when the pooch is about 5 – 6 years old. However, most owners only diagnose it when it reaches the final stages (3 or 4) as the only way of diagnosing it is to specifically ask your vet to test the pet for kidney problems.

In stage 3, bichons experience excessive urination and thirst. In stage 4, more symptoms start to appear, such as vomiting, lack of appetite, weight loss, dehydration, loss of teeth, fragile bones that break easily, and even depression.

Once reaching stage 4, there’s no treatment for your bichon. However, you can improve its quality of life by providing fresh water, food suitable for kidney disease, and working together with your vet to help the pet with any associated symptoms that decrease its quality of life, such as tooth loss.

5. Dental Disease

Dental problems are the most common chronic issue when it comes to dogs, affecting most of them before the age of 2 years old. If left untreated, these can lead to teeth loss which, in turn, may lead to liver, kidney, heart, and joint diseases.

Most bichons frises start with a tartar buildup on their teeth. This turns into gum infections, progressing towards the roots of the teeth, leading to tooth loss. To avoid this problem, make sure you clean your pet’s teeth regularly. If its teeth are already affected, you need to take your buddy to the vet and make sure it receives the right treatment.

6. Eyesight Problems

Many senior dogs develop eyesight problems. Some of them, such as cataracts, lead to complete blindness if left untreated.

If your bichon starts to have cloudy eyes, this may be a symptom of cataracts or a less severe problem, known as nuclear sclerosis. Unlike cataracts, the disease only makes its eyes appear cloudy without affecting the vision. In either case, you should take your dog to a vet for a formal diagnosis and proper treatment, if needed.

7. Hearing Problems

Just like humans, senior dogs may start developing hearing loss as they age. However, this can be quite an important issue since dogs already have a very developed hearing compared to humans, so we might not easily notice it.

This can affect your pooch in numerous ways. For instance, the pet might easily get startled when someone approaches as it cannot hear the high-pitched noises with the same ease. It may also cause your pet to snap out of fear, or you have the feeling that it ignores you when you communicate.

If you suspect your pet loses its hearing or cannot hear as well as before, you need to be patient and understanding. You may use other types of communication (i.e., hand signals), or purchase a vibration collar. This could help you get your pet’s attention even if it doesn’t hear you as well.

8. Arthritis

Arthritis is a disease that affects the dog’s joints and it can be quite painful when not diagnosed and treated. If you want to prevent this disease, make sure you take your bichon outside and maintain a regular exercise schedule. In some cases, arthritis can be treated with more exercises – however, if your vet finds it necessary to take medication, make sure you stick to their recommendation.

Also, many pet owners decide to invest in a few pet supplies to manage this condition. For instance, your pet’s pain can be alleviated if it rests on a pet bed warmer or an orthopedic bed. Heating pads can also help but make sure you protect your dog against burns and other accidents.

One such warmer worth considering is this one made by K&H. It’s affordable and your dog will love it.

Pet Bed Warmer

How to Make Your Bichon Frise Age Slower

If you want to extend your pet’s lifespan as much as possible, it’s important to ensure that it receives proper care. As soon as you adopt or buy a new puppy, you need to create a consistent, robust maintenance routine that includes coat trimming, cutting nails, checking and cleaning ears, keeping facial hair short, and teeth cleaning. Regularly taking your pup to a vet for blood and urine tests may help diagnose diseases in an early stage.

Also, one of the best things you can do to extend your buddy’s life is to have it spayed or neutered. This means to surgically remove the ovaries and the uterus (for females) or testicles (for males). Keep in mind that this surgery means that your pooch cannot have puppies anymore. However, this procedure helps to significantly decrease the likelihood of developing different types of cancers that can shorten your buddy’s lifespan.


All in all, successfully seeing your bichon out of childhood comes with a whole new set of challenges.

Make sure you avoid health problems by providing your pooch with a balanced, active lifestyle. Quality food, good weight management, and a daily exercise routine are the best prevention methods.

If you believe your senior bichon frise may have any problems, it’s important to take them to a vet as soon as possible.

Whether you are looking for food for your dog or other pet supplies, Chewy.com has them all. Right now, they are even running a promotion where you get 40% OFF your first Instinct Raw Frozen autoship order.

6 thoughts on “8 Problems with Old Bichons Frises and How to Avoid Them”

    1. With out more information I am guessing that this is a spot that the dog created with constant scratching. Bichone are prone to having ‘hot spots’ that they lick and bite a lot that cause bleeding.Invest in a cone and put it on the dog for 2 weeks. Usually about 10 bucks tops at a pet store.more expensive at the vet.Dont worry the dog can eat and drink with it. they learn fast

  1. Our Bichon Teddy is 12. He has always been difficult with house training—a horrible problem that requires constant vigilance and making sure he gets out. Now that he is 12, there is no rhyme or reason. Even after a long walk with many breaks, he comes in and lifts his darn leg. It’s exasperating! I love him but…. Man o man! Any ideas?

    1. At 8 weeks old my Bichon was quickly housebroken by taking her outside after food or play. When she went potty outside I gave her a little treat. If she went in the house…no treat. She was smart, and quickly housebroken. She is now 17 years old and still goes outside and expects a treat when we come inside!

  2. My bichon has had kidney stones and surgery to remove said stones and her vet said I needed to change her food. OK but let me know what to feed. The vet gave me some food suggestions but Miss Daisy does not eat the suggested foods. I have fed her boiled chicken tenderloins ever since I finished with the packaged food the previous owner was feeding her. Does anyone have any advice on what I can cook for her or a food to feed her.

  3. Victoria Ferris

    I guess I’m blessed with a great Bichon. He is 18, no major health issues other than hard of hearing and trouble seeing. The only issue I have that drives me crazy is that he pees wherever he wants. Always has… but I guess at his age there isn’t much I will do about it, after all he is my baby and I love him to pieces!!!

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