Bichon frises, those adorable white fluff-balls of the canine world, are an obvious choice for people looking for a family friendly dog. While the bichon is a healthy breed with an average life span of 12-15 years, owners should be aware that some bichons may be predisposed to kidney problems.
Based on a recent health survey cited on the Bichon Frise Club of America Inc. website, primary health problems in the bichon are skin problems/allergies and bladder/kidney stones. Incidences of bladder/kidney stones have increased, from 3 percent in 1992 to 5 percent in 2007. While kidney disease accounted for 1 percent of bichon health issues in 2007, that percentage exhibits an increased trend in the incidence of that particular disease.
The kidneys filter waste, maintain a balance of the normal chemicals in the body and regulate blood pressure. They can be damaged by chemicals, germs, poisons, aging, trauma and disease. Long-term damage occurs over months or years until the damage reduces kidney function, eventually causing kidney failure. Sudden kidney failure can be irreversible and can permanently destroy kidney function. Excessive drinking and urination, or blood in the urine, can denote kidney disease.
Urinary stones can form in the dog's urinary tract or kidney, bladder or urethra, and block the flow of urine. The crystals, of which struvite and calcium oxalate are most common, irritate the urinary tract lining and can cause blood in the urine, pain and, in severe cases, difficult urination. Symptoms include frequent urination, urinating in odd places, blood in urine, dribbling, depression, weakness, straining, pain, vomiting and loss of appetite.
Some dogs with kidney stones can be treated with diet and medications, while others may require surgery. A stone blocking any part of the urinary system can cause a medical emergency. If your bichon becomes depressed and weak, or experiences nausea or vomiting, seek immediate veterinary care. Other symptoms include a firm belly, indicating the bladder is full, as well as a stiff-legged gait and hunched back, which may indicate discomfort from diseased kidneys.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- The Bichon Frise Club of America, Inc.: Management of Bichons with Urinary Stones
- The Bichon Frise Club of America, Inc.: Kidney Disease, an Overview
- 2nd Chance: All About Oxalate Bladder And Kidney Stones In Your Dog And How To Manage Them
- Bichon Health: Comparison Charts for Bichon Health Surveys Past and Present
Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.