Bichon Frise Skin Problems: All You Need to Know

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Bichon Frise Skin ProblemsThere are numerous reasons why bichon frise is a perfect family dog. With his adorable appearance and hearty behavior, he won the hearts of dog lovers around the world. However, one of his “trademarks” – his unique powder-puff coat, which is most often snow-white and consists of a silky but curly outer coat and soft undercoat, beside its beauty also carries certain risks to his health.

Just like any other precious thing, the fur of the bichon frise requires special attention and regular care. They need grooming and trimming, as well as bathing on a regular basis.

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Are Bichons Frises Prone to Suffering Skin Problems?

White dogs, including the bichon frise, are known to be more prone to skin problems due to lack of skin pigment. Dogs with light fur produce less skin pigment, while dark colored ones produce more pigment. Completely white dogs have a total lack of pigment production, which makes them more prone to allergies.

Furthermore, dog breeds with white fur experience larger sun damage of their skin and therefore are at a higher risk of developing certain types of cancers caused by sun exposure.

How to Tell If Your Bichon Frise Has a Skin Problem?

Pruritus (itching) and skin problems in dogs can be caused by different causes, however, itching represents one of the most typical symptoms of dog skin allergies. You’ll notice that your bichon is scratching the ears, the face and the armpit area frequently, or it is licking and chewing the skin in the area of the stomach and hind legs.

Allergic reaction is a synonym for an extremely aggressive response of the immune system to substances from the environment which normally are not dangerous for the health. Different substances from the environment may be responsible for causing allergic reactions in dogs, and the most common among them are food and some food ingredients, pollens, dust and dust mites, fleas and flea control products, different groups of medications, cigarette smoke, cleaning products, etc.

These substances are called allergens and when a hypersensitive dog comes in contact with them a series of events occur in the dog’s body creating an immune response known as allergic reaction. Allergies in dogs include atopic dermatitis caused by airborne allergens from the environment, flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) caused by proteins found in the saliva of the fleas, and food allergies which can be caused by different food ingredients.

Common Bichon Frise Skin Problems

Atopic dermatitis (allergic skin disease due to environmental allergens) is the most common type of allergy. Common environmental allergens include dust mites, fleas, molds and pollen from flowers, grasses and trees. Itching is the most typical symptom of this airborne allergy and the intensity of scratching is individual for each animal.

Anti-itch therapies will help your dog feel better for a while but you must have on mind that these medications only eliminate the symptoms but don’t fix the root cause of the problem. Besides the frequent scratching, you can also notice symptoms like hair loss, scaly areas, or acne-like bumps on the skin of your bichon frise. Foul odor from the dog’s skin can also be present in cases where bacterial skin infection has developed. The symptoms may be present seasonally or through the whole year, depending mostly on the fact if the suspected allergen is found indoor or outdoor.

This type of allergy can also cause problems with a dog’s ears and has a significant role in the development of chronic inflammation of the inner ear. This type of allergy can be managed but not cured, and long term medical treatment and re-checks are required.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) is a type of reaction thet is not caused by the flea itself but from the proteins coming from the flea saliva and feces. In most of the cases, this problem appears in dogs that are occasionally exposed to fleas, rather than dogs that are constantly infested. The dog will scratch and chew the skin making skin lesions and wounds without hair that sometimes can bleed.

Having on mind that this allergy is actually caused the flea saliva, it is recommended to bathe your dog to eliminate all traces of flea saliva and feces. Bathe your dog often, at least once a week, and always use a proper shampoo because clean animals are less attractive to fleas.

Lastly, bichons frises might be hypersensitive to some foods or certain food ingredients, such as beef, chicken, fish, soy, eggs. The key thing in the whole issue is locating the substance that the dog’s immune system is considering an allergen. If it is suspected that the allergic reaction is caused by a substance present in the food or the dog treats an elimination diet in consultation with your veterinary doctor is recommended.

It means that your dog will be put on a 12 week exclusive prescription diet based on proteins from meat sources that your dog has never consumed before and are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. This diet can also be provided by using a commercial hypoallergenic dog food consisting of proteins from limited sources.

The next step is to gradually introduce your dog to the food he used to consume previously and try to conclude the type of food that caused the problem by noticing the first symptoms of allergic reaction which usually appear between one hour to two weeks after the allergen was ingested.

Tips to Minimize the Risk of Your Bichon Frise Having Skin Problems

The best possible way to regulate allergies in your dog is to find an effective way to avoid the dog’s exposure to the allergen completely. If you have detected the exact substance that is causing the problem, you have a great advantage and things will go much easier.

Do your best to prevent your dog’s exposure to cigarette smoke and warn smokers to avoid smoking in the presence of your pet. Make sure you maintain good hygiene of your dog. Regular bathing will remove substances from the dog’s fur that may be causing problems with skin allergies. Wash the dog’s toys, the food dishes, and the water bowls regularly. Vacuum the dog’s bedding often, at least twice per week.

Try to eliminate indoor moisture as much as possible to prevent the occurrence of allergies caused by fungi and mold. Provide effective dust mite control and remove the objects that are potential dust collectors. In a season when the amount of pollen is larger decrease the walks with your dog, and after returning home from a walk in nature always wash the dog’s paws because this way some allergens from the outside can be brought inside the house.

Veterinary dermatologists use diagnostic methods such as intradermal allergy tests similar to the ones used in humans. This method can examine the dog’s sensitivity to 60 different substances from the environment and allows detection of the exact substance that is responsible for the allergic reaction.

Immunotherapy is one of the most effective ways to manage the course of allergies. It is implemented by increasing the amounts of the allergens in the dog’s body through a series of so-called “allergy vaccines”. The immune system of the dog gradually becomes accustomed to this substance and its reactive responses become less and less pronounced.

There are some nutrition guidelines that may help you to prevent the occurrence of allergies or help you regulate their course. Probiotics (Lactobacillus cultures) in the puppy diet can substantially reduce the chances of occurrence of food allergies in the future as adults. It is recommended to use proteins from different sources in your dog’s diet and rotate them periodically.

Food supplements rich with essential Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil are often recommended in cases of allergic reactions such as atopic dermatitis. These natural anti-inflammatory substances can support the anti-allergy treatment of atopic dermatitis by reducing the effects of histamine and some similar substances produced in the body that are responsible for the symptoms of inflammation during allergic reactions.

Vitamin supplements (especially vitamin C) in the diet are highly recommended.


Every bichon frise can respond differently to each of the medications used in skin allergy treatment. An experienced veterinarian will make a prudent assessment regarding the choice of medications that will be used in the treatment. Besides the therapy, you should try to avoid the dog’s exposure to the allergen as much as possible.

Also do your best to protect your dog from long, direct sun exposure. Inform your trusted veterinarian as soon as you notice that some unusual changes have appeared in your dog’s body or in his behavior. Remember that you can do a lot to help your dog to successfully overcome such health issues, with a lot of patience, a lot of perseverance, and above all lots of love.

Make sure you do everything in your power for your dog to be healthy and happy, because your bichon frise definitely deserves to feel comfortable in his own skin.

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