20 Bichon Frise Old Age Problems Health Issues

Bichon Frise Old Age Problems

We’ve enlisted the 20 most common bichon frise Old Age Problems and health issues they face while aging.

As bichon frise dogs grow older, they can develop various health issues common in senior dogs. Being aware of these potential problems can help owners provide the best care for their aging bichon.

Keeping up with veterinary care, providing a healthy diet, and maintaining an active lifestyle can go a long way in minimizing age-related problems.

But some decline is inevitable as dogs reach their senior years. Being alert to changes and addressing problems early is key.

Bichon Frise Old Age Problems

Common Bichon Frise Old Age Problems
Health IssueTypical Age of OnsetSigns & SymptomsTreatment Options
Tooth PathologyOlder dogsBad breath, trouble eating, oral painProfessional cleanings, extractions, daily brushing
DiabetesMiddle to old ageIncreased thirst, urination, appetite; weight lossInsulin, diet changes, exercise, glucose monitoring
Bladder/Kidney StonesAny ageStraining to urinate, blood in urine, abdominal painPrescription diet, medications, surgery
Eye ProblemsOlder dogsVision loss, eye inflammation, dischargeMedications, eye drops, surgery
Liver ProblemsMiddle to old ageVomiting, diarrhea, jaundiceMedications, dietary changes, veterinary care
AllergiesAny ageItchy skin, irritated earsHypoallergenic diet, medications, baths
EpilepsyUsually younger adultsCollapsing, jerking, loss of consciousnessMedications like phenobarbital
Hip DysplasiaUsually younger adultsLimping, difficulty standingTotal hip replacement surgery
Luxating PatellasAny ageLameness, kneecap dislocationExercise limitation, surgery
ObesityAny ageExcess weight gainPortion control, increased exercise
HemangiosarcomaOlder dogsCollapse, weakness, rapid heart rateEmergency surgery, transfusions
Autoimmune DisordersMiddle to old ageWeakness, bleedingImmunosuppressants, steroids
ParasitesAny ageDiarrhea, vomiting, malnutritionDe-worming, heartworm prevention
Spay/Neuter IssuesYoung dogsBleeding, infection, slow recoveryFollow post-op instructions
Spinal InjuriesUsually younger dogsParalysis, loss of sensationRest, rehabilitation, surgery
CataractsOlder dogsVision lossSurgery to remove cataracts
Heart DiseaseOlder dogsCoughing, trouble breathing, weaknessMedications, activity restriction
UTIsUsually femalesFrequent urination, blood in urineAntibiotics, vulva hygiene
DeafnessOlder dogsReduced hearingHand signals, vibration cues
IncontinenceSpayed femalesUrine leakageHormones, pads, scheduled breaks

Tooth Pathology

Bichon frises are prone to dental problems like gingivitis, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. Tartar buildup, infection, and tooth loss can occur. Signs include bad breath, trouble chewing, and oral pain. Professional cleanings and extractions may be needed. Daily tooth brushing and dental treats can help prevent dental disease.


Some bichons develop diabetes in middle or old age, causing glucose buildup in the bloodstream. Increased thirst, urination, and appetite along with weight loss are common signs. Insulin injections, diet changes, exercise, and blood sugar monitoring help manage diabetes.

Bladder or Kidney Stones

Bichons can develop painful mineral crystals or stones in their bladder or kidneys. Straining to urinate, blood in urine, frequent urination, and abdominal pain can occur. Prescription diets and medications help dissolve stones. Surgery may be needed in severe cases.

Eye Problems

Common eye issues seen in bichons include cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and dry eye. These can lead to vision loss, eye inflammation, and discharge. Veterinary ophthalmologists can diagnose and treat eye conditions through medications, eye drops, or surgery.

Liver Problems

Some bichons are prone to chronic liver disease, often related to genetics. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, and abdominal swelling. Medications and special diets support liver function. Veterinary care is crucial.


Bichons often suffer from skin allergies and itchiness, typically caused by food or environmental allergens. Veterinary testing can identify allergens. Hypoallergenic diets, medications, and baths help manage allergic reactions.


A small percentage of bichons develop epilepsy, experiencing recurrent seizures. Episodes involve collapse, muscle jerking, and loss of consciousness. Medications like phenobarbital help control seizures. Avoiding triggers like stress can also help.

Hip Necrosis

Some bichons inherit susceptible genes that lead to degeneration of the hip joint, causing severe arthritis. Limping, trouble standing, and loss of muscle mass occur. Total hip replacement surgery is often the best option to restore mobility.

Knee Problems

Luxating patellas, or loose kneecaps, are relatively common in the toy breed. Kneecaps pop out of position, causing lameness. Mild cases may just need exercise limitations. Surgery can repair more serious cases.


Overfeeding, lack of exercise, and genetic tendencies can lead to obesity in bichons. Excess weight strains the body, increasing risk of joint problems, diabetes, and heart disease. Portion control and increased activity help manage weight.

Bleeding Tumor

Hemangiosarcoma is an aggressive cancer of the blood vessels that can affect bichons. Internal tumors rupture and bleed, causing collapse, weakness, and rapid heart rate. Emergency surgery to stop bleeding may be needed.

Hemolytic Anemia and Thrombocytopenia

Some autoimmune disorders cause bichon’s immune system to attack its own red blood cells or platelets. Anemia causes weakness while thrombocytopenia increases bleeding risks. Immunosuppressant drugs help manage these conditions.


Common parasites like roundworms, hookworms, coccidia, and giardia can infect a bichon’s intestinal tract, causing diarrhea, vomiting, and malnutrition. Heartworms are also a concern. Veterinarians can test for and treat parasitic infections.

Spay or Neuter

Spaying or neutering is highly recommended for health and behavior reasons, but the surgery poses some risks. Bleeding, infection, and delayed recovery are possible complications. Following veterinary instructions speeds healing after the procedure.

Spinal Cord Injury

Bichons’ long backs make them prone to ruptured discs or other spinal cord injuries, often from jumping or falling. Signs include paralysis and loss of sensation. Mild cases may heal with rest. Severe injuries may require surgery.


Clouding of the eye lenses is relatively common in senior bichons. Cataracts block light and cause vision loss. Surgery to remove cataracts may be an option, but risks include retinal detachment. Veterinary ophthalmologists can advise on treatment.

Heart Disease

Some bichons are genetically prone to acquire heart valve problems or enlarged heart later in life. This can lead to congestive heart failure. Medications help manage heart disease, but activity may need to be restricted.

Urinary Tract Infections

Bichons are somewhat prone to UTIs due to their anatomy. Symptoms include frequent urination, discomfort when urinating, blood in urine. Antibiotics prescribed by vets clear up bacterial UTIs. Good hygiene around the vulva helps prevent recurrence.

Canine Deafness

Progressive hearing loss occurs in some senior bichons, where nerve pathways from the ear to the brain degenerate. Dogs may seem less responsive to sounds over time. Hand signals and vibrations can help cue deaf dogs.

Canine Urinary Incontinence

Some spayed female bichons develop urinary incontinence, involuntarily leaking urine while resting or sleeping. Hormone medications can help strengthen bladder sphincters. Other treatments include diapers, belly bands, and scheduled outdoor trips.

Bichon Frise Life Expectancy

The expected lifespan for a bichon frise is approximately 12-15 years. However, with attentive care and some luck, many live to be 16-18 years old. Factors impacting longevity include:

  • Size – Smaller bichons tend to live longer
  • Genetics – Dogs from healthy lineage tend to have longer lifespans
  • Early spay/neuter – Reduces cancer risks
  • Preventative care – Veterinary care improves lifespan
  • Diet – Lean body weight and nutrient-rich foods support longevity
  • Exercise – Activity improves health but shouldn’t be overdone
  • Environment – Dogs that live indoors tend to live longer

Knowing the average bichon lifespan can help owners be realistic yet hopeful about their dog’s senior years. Focusing on controllable factors gives bichons the best shot at reaching the upper end of the expected lifespan.

Maximizing Your Bichon’s Longevity

To help maximize your bichon’s longevity:

  • Feed a nutritious and age-appropriate diet
  • Maintain lean body weight through portion control and exercise
  • Follow veterinary preventative care recommendations
  • Provide mental stimulation and interaction to keep the brain engaged
  • Monitor behavior and health closely for any changes
  • Address emerging health issues promptly
  • Adapt their environment and routine as mobility declines
  • Prioritize quality of life for your senior dog

Care Tips for Senior Bichons

Caring for a senior bichon requires some special considerations. Important senior care tips include:

Veterinary Care

  • Annual exams and twice yearly senior wellness checks
  • Regular bloodwork, urinalysis, and diagnostic screening
  • Dental cleanings under anesthesia every 6-12 months
  • Prompt attention to emerging health problems
  • Medications and supplements as prescribed


  • High quality senior dog food
  • Adjustments to support organ health
  • Scheduled meals instead of free feeding
  • Portion control to maintain ideal weight


  • Weekly brushing and combing
  • Monthly baths with moisturizing shampoo
  • Regular nail trims
  • Cleaning face folds and ears


  • Short, low impact leash walks
  • Potty breaks on a predictable schedule
  • Mental games and stimulation
  • Comfortable bedding and minimal stairs


  • Non-slip surfaces and nightlights/motion lights
  • Ramps for furniture access
  • Easy access to food, water and potty areas
  • Calm home environment

Staying on top of all aspects of senior care helps keep bichons happy and healthy as they transition into their later years.

Behavior Changes in Senior Bichons

It’s common for senior bichons to undergo some behavior changes. Being aware of potential changes allows owners to respond appropriately. Some common age-related behavior changes include:

  • Increased vocalization – May signal cognitive decline, anxiety, or medical issues
  • House soiling – Could indicate medical problems or cognitive decline
  • Increased anxiety – Stem from medical problems or brain aging
  • Changes in sleep pattern – More daytime sleeping is common
  • Decreased interest in play – Particularly high-energy play
  • Increased need for attention – Seeking more companion time
  • Disorientation or confusion – May be cognitive dysfunction
  • Forgetfulness about household rules – Difficulty retaining training Veterinary exams can determine if there are underlying medical causes for behavior changes like pain, illness, or disability. If the cause is cognitive decline, medication and environmental adaptation can help manage the changes. Patience and providing consistency is important.

What is considered old for a Bichon?

For bichon frise dogs, old age is generally considered to start around 8-10 years old. The typical lifespan of a bichon is 12-15 years, though some live longer. When bichons reach their senior years around age 8-10, owners will start to notice some changes:

  • Increased sleeping and lower energy levels
  • Graying fur around the muzzle and eyes
  • Some decline in vision, hearing, or mobility
  • Difficulty jumping up on furniture or navigating stairs
  • Increased dental issues like bad breath or tooth loss
  • Changes in bowel and bladder function
  • Increased frequency of veterinary visits for age-related conditions

While 8-10 years old marks the transition into seniorhood for most bichons, smaller dogs tend to live longer lifespans. Proper nutrition, exercise, veterinary care, and attentive home caregiving allows many bichons to remain active and energetic well into their early teen years before more noticeable signs of aging occur. The keys are providing preventative healthcare and adjusting their routines as needed to accommodate any age-related limitations.

What is the most common disease in the Bichon Frise?

Allergies are one of the most common health conditions seen in bichons. This small breed is prone to environmental and food allergies that cause symptoms like itchy skin, ear infections, hair loss, excessive licking/scratching, and skin irritation. Recurrent yeast infections in the skin folds and ears are also common.

Other diseases frequently seen in bichons include dental disease like gingivitis and periodontal infections, cataracts and other eye problems, bladder stones, obesity, diabetes, liver shunts in young dogs, and luxating patellas or “trick knees” that can cause lameness.

As bichons reach old age, the most common senior diseases they develop are related to organ decline – such as kidney disease, heart disease, and liver disease. Arthritis also becomes very common in older bichons. Without diligent dental care, by their golden years most bichons also have significant dental disease that should be addressed. Staying on top of preventative care and wellness exams helps catch any emerging conditions early.

What is the oldest living Bichon?

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest known living bichon was Boo Boo, a bichon frise from Virginia who lived to be 21 years old before passing in 2009. 21 is exceptionally old for a bichon!

More typical records of longest living bichons are in the 16-18 year range. For example, Flower, a bichon from the UK, reached her 18th birthday in 2020. Scooter, adopted from a California shelter, lived to be 17 years old. Bon Bon, owned by a breeder in Australia, reached 161⁄2 years before passing.

While the average bichon lifespan is 12-15 years, with attentive ownership, good genetics, and some luck, bichons like Boo Boo can defy the odds and reach 20 years or more. For most bichon owners though, living well into the late teens is still considered an impressive lifespan for this active little breed.


Some signs a bichon may have age-related problems include decreased energy and activity, increased sleep, loss of housetraining, loss of appetite, weight changes, lumps/bumps, stiffness or limping, dental issues like bad breath, changes in thirst or urination, coughing, changes in behavior like confusion or anxiety, and just generally seeming “off”. Any notable changes in a senior bichon should prompt a veterinary exam.

How can I make a senior bichon more comfortable?

Making a senior bichon comfortable involves providing soft bedding in their favorite sleeping spots, using ramps to access furniture, keeping food and water bowls close by, scheduling shorter and more frequent walks, grooming gently and regularly, using harnesses instead of collars, massaging sore muscles, keeping a consistent routine, and addressing pain or mobility issues promptly through veterinary care.

What preventative care is most important for senior bichons?

Important preventative care for senior bichons includes twice yearly veterinary exams and bloodwork to monitor organ function and catch issues early, dental cleanings under anesthesia at least annually, keeping vaccinations current, maintaining a healthy diet and body weight, parasite prevention, and grooming nails, ears, skin and coat regularly. Screening tests like x-rays or ultrasound may also be advised.

What changes should I make to a senior bichon’s diet?

Diet changes to consider for senior bichons include feeding a senior-formula dog food, reducing portion sizes if needed to maintain ideal weight, increasing fiber to support digestion, adding omega fatty acids for skin/coat health, increasing protein if kidneys are healthy, adding joint supplements, limiting sodium for cardiac health, and providing more frequent smaller meals. Consulting a vet ensures dietary changes meet the individual dog’s needs.

How much exercise should senior bichons get?

The exercise needs of senior bichons largely depends on the health of the individual dog. Lower impact exercise like short leash walks of 10-20 minutes 1-2 times daily is typically sufficient. Swimming and gentle play can also be good activities for mobility. Aim to prevent fatigue and soreness, and adjust activity based on veterinary recommendations. Mental exercise is also important for seniors.

Key Takeaways on Bichon Senior Health

  • Senior bichons are prone to many age-related health issues, including dental disease, obesity, arthritis, cancer and organ failure.
  • Common signs of problems include decreased energy, weight changes, altered appetite, mobility issues, lumps/bumps, dental issues and behavior changes.
  • Twice yearly veterinary exams are crucial for early detection and treatment of senior dog conditions.
  • Adjustments to diet, exercise, routine and environment often help maximize comfort for senior bichons.
  • Quality veterinary care and attentive home caregiving allow bichons to live happily into their senior years as they transition through this life stage.

Staying informed and proactive is key to detecting health problems early and improving life quality for senior bichon frise dogs. Working closely with your veterinarian provides the best support to managing old age issues in beloved bichon companions.

About Hailey Pruett

Hailey “Lex” Pruett is a nonbinary writer at YIHY primarily covering reptiles and amphibians. They have over five years of professional content writing experience. Additionally, they grew up on a hobby farm and have volunteered at animal shelters to gain further experience in animal care.

A longtime resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, Hailey has owned and cared extensively for a wide variety of animals in their lifetime, including cats, dogs, lizards, turtles, frogs and toads, fish, chickens, ducks, horses, llamas, rabbits, goats, and more!

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