They're charming, affectionate, and ready to give and receive love. Bichon frises are popular and sweet, and their human parents love to spoil them.
One way dog guardians show their love is through food. So how do bichon moms and dads know how much to feed their little puffy pals?
Determining Your Bichon's Weight
Determining your little one's caloric needs depends largely on her weight, along with activity levels and other factors. You can weigh her at the vet's office, or at home. To weigh her at home, pick her up and step on the scale together. Make a note of the number. Then, put her down and step on the scale alone. Subtract your weight from the weight of both of you, and that's how much your bichon weighs.
Calorie Needs According to Weight
Now that you know her weight, you can begin to determine her calorie needs. For these purposes, let's assume her activity level is average (although she is not average--we know she's spectacular).
Most bichons weigh anywhere from 7 to 12 pounds. Smaller bichons of seven or eight pounds need around 300 to 325 calories, while average 9 and 10-pound bichons need around 350 to 375. Buffer bichons around 11 or 12 pounds need about 400 to 425 calories per day.
How Much of What?
Once you have cross-checked these numbers with your vet, you can figure out what kinds of foods should offer these calories. Generally speaking, the dog diet should consist of 50 to 75 percent animal protein, 15 to 18 percent fat and 25 percent carbohydrates. For an average 10-pound bichon, this would mean about 225 calories from protein, 55 calories from fat, and about 95 calories from carbs including fruits, veggies and starches.
What Foods Can Offer These Kinds of Calories?
If your dog is eating commercial food, you can refer to the labels to make sure your pup is getting the right ratios of the right foods. If you are feeding homemade or semi-homemade diets, over half her bowl should be meat (50 to 75 percent). About a quarter should be vegetables, fruits and starches like rice or potatoes (25 percent). Drizzle some healthy oil like olive, flax or safflower over the top (15 percent) and voila!
Taking it Slow
All dietary transitions should be made gradually, so your dog's body can adjust. If you are thinking about transitioning your bichon to homemade food, a general rule is to add 10 to 25 percent of each new food each week, over one or two months, while gradually reducing her current food so her caloric intake doesn't exceed her needs.
Your bichon is already gorgeous -- with an optimized calorie intake, she can stay that way.
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.