"The Bichon Frise and Allergies
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"The Bichon Frise and Allergies

Dogs
Health & Safety

If there is one health disorder that plagues the Bichon Frise, it's allergies whether it's a minor skin problem or something far more serious. Anyone who shares a home with one of these adorable dogs knows only too well how challenging it can be to stay on top of things so their pets are literally comfortable in their own skin.

It would be fair to say that at some point in their lives, most Bichons will develop some sort of skin irritation which they gnaw and chew at which in turn makes their condition that much worse. The reason the breed is so prone to allergies has something to do with the fact they have white coats and therefore their skin is more sensitive to things in the environment, but diet too can have a hand in allergies the breed often suffers from. With this said, puppies are born with white un-pigmented skin, but pretty soon they develop darker patches on it which means they are less likely to suffer the many skin allergies the breed is so prone to develop or so it is thought.

Self Mutilation can be a Massive Problem

Some dogs develop such bad allergies they start self mutilating which only ends up making their condition that much worse and a lot more painful. The discomfort and irritation can literally drive them to distraction. Although as previously mentioned some allergies can be triggered by diet, the most common cause is usually something in the dog's environment and it's this that's the trigger. Treating these conditions can prove very challenging for vets so not only can be hard to find out what is causing an allergy, but discovering the best way to treat it can be just as difficult.

The Downside of Using Corticosteroids

Studies have shown that using too many corticosteroids as a way of relieving the itchiness dogs have to put up with can lead to dog's developing Cushing's Syndrome which in turn can shorten their life spans quite drastically. Allergies in themselves are in fact, autoimmune diseases and as such, the body literally takes charge and attacks itself as a way of combating a disorder.

An autoimmune disease when it takes hold can attack various parts of a dog's body whether it's their blood, endocrine glands, gastrointestinal tracts, musculoskeletal systems, eyes, kidneys and nervous systems. In short, it can attack any part of a dog's body which then causes these autoimmune responses to happen. Vets still have a really hard time understanding these disorders which in turn means they also find them difficult to treat. Unfortunately, the more research that's carried out, the more researchers and vets realise there is still so much they just do not know about autoimmune diseases in dogs.

Stress Can be the Trigger

Stress can also be a trigger to Bichon Frise's developing allergies and this includes the stress factor associated with vaccinations as well as annual boosters that many dogs are given. Other triggers include chemicals used in cleaning products which are commonly found in most homes around the country. Then there are the chemicals used in gardens that help keep weeds at bay and others that make plants grow stronger. However, even certain chemicals used in flea control treatments can be the trigger to a Bichon suffering some sort of allergy.

If you share your home with a Bichon Frise, it's really important to check everything in their environment bearing in mind any of the above can be the trigger of their allergy and to avoid using any of them. It’s better to source alternatives which may not trigger an allergic reaction in your dog.

How do Vets Treat Allergies

The most common treatment is to give dogs steroids in the form of corticosteroids which are in fact, hormones that boast both immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties. These help calm the itchiness and irritation associated with skin allergies. They also suppress the body's own immune response and because these two actions are impossible to separate, vets find it challenging to get things absolutely right. The other downside of this type of treatment is that it can often change a dog in several ways which includes affecting their appetite, their bone growth and it may even alter their behaviour too.

As such vets now recommend that owners feed their dogs a diet that's rich in Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids which help boost a dog's natural immune response. However, adding vitamin supplements should be avoided because Bichons are so susceptible to developing kidney stones.

Contacting a Reputable Breeder

If you are thinking about getting a Bichon puppy, it's very important to contact well established, reputable breeders who take great pride in the puppies they produce. A good breeder would avoid using any dogs known to suffer from any sort of severe allergy in a breeding programme to reduce the risk of puppies inheriting genetic disorders which includes skin allergies. However, a Bichon could also inherit other disorders and includes the following:

  • Thyroid issues
  • Diabetes
  • Cushing's disease

Conclusion

It's been estimated that as many as 50% of Bichons suffer from some sort of skin allergy and with skin making up a large part of the dog's body, it can become a real issue. Any health issue that attacks an internal organ is often first seen in the condition of a dog's skin which could be attributed to either a poor diet, a mild or serious build-up of toxins in their body to name but two. Airborne chemicals can also be the trigger to their allergies which is known as Atopy and today there are more of these in many environments that ever before. In order to reduce the amount or eliminate them, owners need to look at alternative pet friendly cleaning products to use around their homes.

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