Overweigh Bichon Frise

Hi i’m a newbie here and could really do with some help/advice… Oscar my 18 month old Bichon Frise that I have had from a pup is overweight… He was on naturediet from coming to me as a puppy and was happy enough with it, he also had burgess sensitive salmon and rice biscuits, tried him on many biscuits that he didn’t like but he finally settled on those… He finally went off naturediet after being poorly, so I changed him to Nature’s Menu and all was well…

Fast forward to April this year when he was really poorly, it started after a bout of sickness and just went from there. He wouldn’t eat anything and was poorly but the vet just couldn’t put his finger on what it was. He was up and down until June when they finally (and after scans, x-rays and a hefty vet bill) found that one of his testicles hadn’t dropped… ( also by this time I had lost a lot of confidence in the vets) he had the operation to have both removed on July 4 this year, when weighed he was 6.2 kilos… He had always enjoyed his walks and didn’t have a problem walking 7/10 miles a day, and has always been very active… Anyway after the op he went of the natures menu and all he would eat was pedigree chum (wasn’t happy about that but at least he was eating… Also after the op he became very inactive, I was having to drag him for a walk even around the block was hard work… He was ok walking on the shore (beach) but would happily have stayed at home… The change in his was so upsetting, he had gone from this happy lively dog to a lazy unhappy dog…
By this time he was eating Naturo which scored well on the website , and a boiled chicken thigh and a handful of biscuits as by this time he was going off the Naturo and it was the only way I could get him to eat it… I started to notice he was putting on weight… He’s only fed once a day in the evening… He went for his booster in September where, when weighed he was 11.2 kilos around (1 stone 9, I don’t do kilos) the vets made me feel so bad but I pointed out he had been at a healthy weight until being castrated… He went for his last booster injection 2 weeks ago and he had put on .22 of a kilo… Foodwise I was giving him a teaspoon of meat and the chicken thigh (small) and biscuits… He is back walking 7 miles every day but no weight loss and is always hungry… the Naturo is high in fat and calories so took him off it and he was just eating chicken and biscuits once a day, he is always hungry and looking for food, he gets me up at 4.30 looking for food. ( I HAVE A CAT, he knows that if he gets me up the cat will get up for food)… I’ve tried halving his chicken and biscuits and feeding it twice a day but he’s still starving… Anyway yesterday I bought barking heads fat dog slim and he won’t touch it (there’s 6 tins) I am demented with him… I am now going to have to mix the meat with chicken or minced beef (cooked, fat drained off) to get him to eat it…

Sorry for the first long post… Any help or advice will be greatly appreciated,


Hello & welcome,

Firstly. There are plenty of vets out there. If your vet has let you down before & you have little confidence in their abilities then I would be looking to change. Do some homework, read up on profiles of practicing vets, look at fees, consider what is important to you & your dog. Be cautious of those that push prescription diets ! If vet changed then maybe get a full MOT done, discuss history, concerns & any tests if vet & you feel they are needed.

I have reservations on giving feeding advice if your dog has dog has potential health issues. You indicate dog is overweight, lazy & unhappy with low food appetite.

Despite you going into some detail, your post didn’t paint a clear picture of feeding. You make more than one reference to biscuits…Your post seems to document a well intended but hit and miss approach. You appear to have fed kibble, cooked chicken a non disclosed source of meat, biscuits, chum & Naturo.

The only food item you indicate the dog seems to consistently eats is chicken. Keeping chicken in the diet may be a good idea, however, the dog has been lacking energy. You should not rule out the possibility that the dog has an appetite for a protein source that may not best suit. The dog rejecting all but cooked chicken may be down to it being more texture & flavour appealing than other bowl content.

Maybe try the dog on other single protein sources up to 7-10 days at a time, monitor appetite, stool output, condition & energy etc. The reason for doing this is to see if the dog perhaps gets on better with certain single protein sources better than others. You obviously need to decide what food type you want to use for your trials…If it were my dog I would stick it on a decent single protein source whether home cooked, raw or other food type agreeable to you & dog. Complete foods will have more variables and make it harder to know what works and what doesn’t. That said I would add a simple source of veg if feeding home cooked. I am not a home cooked feeder & others on here far better able to advise on this if you go down that route long term !

Importantly I would want to have better idea of my dogs health before embarking on weeks or months of trial and error changes to feeding. My priorities would be…Get a good vet, rule out or manage medical issues, sort a fuss free diet that works, leave out the biscuit(s), do not overfeed (or let others do so) & ensure plenty of fresh water encouraged.

It goes against some advice but I frequently hear that most dogs seem to do ok on tins of wet Chappie. Not a high scorer on here but arguably suitable for dogs prior fussy &/or on back of recovery. Worth a try as stop gap if dog wont eat !


Hello and welcome to the forum. Some very good advice from Coaster. It could be that your Bichon doesn’t want to exercise due to the weight gain, which is considerable for a small dog. As you know, neutering dogs can cause weight gain and it is sometimes necessary to make adjustments to the diet. There are a few threads on the forum about helping a dog to lose weight so have a good look round to see if there is anything of use to you.

Here are a few pointers, which are just from my own experience of weight control in small dogs:

  • Be prepared for the long haul. It can take months to get the weight off so stick at it. A long time ago I had a dog that needed to lose 1kg and it took me several months to get her down. It was worth it because she didn’t put the weight back on. Arrange to take your dog for weighing either weekly or fortnightly so that you can assess whether the diet is working.
  • As Coaster says, you need to stop feeding bits and pieces, particularly biscuits - choose a suitable product and only give that. Mine have no treats other than one or two dried fish skins which are low calorie. They have one small Wainwright’s grain free biscuit and that is at bedtime. No table scraps.
  • It is very important to weigh food accurately using a digital scale in 1g divisions. You need to know exactly what is going into your dog’s stomach; by doing this you know exactly how much they are getting and you can adjust the quantity in 10% divisions depending on whether the dog is losing weight or not. For instance, if you are feeding 100g per day with no weight loss, you could lower it by 10% and give 90g.
  • Choose a food that is low in fat but higher in protein. About 10% to11% may be helpful. Sometimes foods that have low fat are lower in protein so it might be helpful to top up with lean, home cooked protein food such as chicken breast (it is lower in fat). Don’t forget to slightly reduce the commercial food to take account of this.
  • Recommended Daily Amounts are often too high. I have always started my dogs on a lower amount.
  • Hunger - some dogs always seem to be hungry and it might be that it is behavioural rather than actual hunger. Do not be pushed into feeding him because he asks for it. This becomes a vicious circle and he will not lose weight. You can top up his food with cooked, pureed vegetables but choose ones that aren’t starchy - usually they are the green, leafy ones. I feed my dogs three smaller meals and I would recommend this for hungry dogs.

As Coaster says, a good veterinary practice is important and if the veterinary nurses run a weight loss clinic or would see you regularly that would be a real bonus.


I forgot to say that I have managed weight control in my dogs by using cold pressed food, topped up with lean protein. These products have modest fat levels and protein circa 27%. However, the food is dense so must be weighed - it is very easy to overfeed. The other warning is that the amount in the bowl looks tiny. To some extent this can be overcome by soaking it in tepid (never boiling) water. The dog takes a bit longer to eat it. Alternatively a slow feeder might help. The RDA is 1% to 1.2% of the ideal body weight. If you are interested in this, we have a thread on cold pressed foods here. The UK companies who sell these products are Gentle, Guru and more recently Forthglade. They should be able to advise you if required.

If you need help sourcing a product, use the Dog Food Directory and ask if you need help with this.

Please could you let us know what you decide on and how you get on? Feedback is very helpful and appreciated.


Although I’ve never fed cold pressed food as part of a weight loss program I can vouch for the fact that even fussy dogs seem to like it!
Another idea might be Butternut Box; again there are lots of stories of dogs who wouldn’t touch anything else loving this home cooked style diet. It’s a more expensive option but excellent quality and the company are very helpful.
I would also agree with Dottie on feeding little and often, I feed my dog three times a day, in her case it’s as she’s a large, deep chested breed so I worry about her bloating but it does help wheh a dog seems hungry all the time.
Good luck!


Hello Sparky1964 and welcome to the forum!

Notably there are vast differences within certain breeds with acceptably healthy dogs that simply do not wear the one-breed-weight-chart-fits-all hat…And rather interestingly, the (relatively) new growth standard charts (published last month) for monitoring bodyweight in dogs of different sizes has new categorisations with 6 sizes of I, II, III, IV, V, VI rather than the pre-existing 5 sizes of Toy, Small, Medium Large, and Giant.

Here is the link:Growth standard charts for monitoring bodyweight in dogs of different sizes and as you can see the Bichon Frise of size “Small” - guideline weight 5kg to <10kg - is in the new size categorisation of “II” with a guideline weight of between 6.5kg to <9kg. Nevertheless these new size guidelines are evidenced based and so a starting weight of 5kg increased to 6.5kg is a 30% increase, which for a small dog is fairly significant! In a nutshell what I’m trying to say is that dogs have their individual shapes and sizes, and weight is surely a guideline at best.

Many of us (myself included) introduce plenty of variation into the diet for a young dog, and work around any responses, for example if a dog shows an intolerance, or has ‘gone off’ the food, we tweak and change the diet as necessary. If your little dog happily managed 7-10 miles a day with minor diet tweaks, then well done to you. It sounds to me as though it’s the operation that has ‘upset’ things, and I’m not surprised if this is the trigger, as castration (albeit essential for Oscar) does tend to change metabolism in dogs, some reacting more noticeably than others.

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Regarding what advice to offer which may help Oscar, I’d be tempted to carry on with the exercise he already has, as long as he seems comfortable with that type of exercise and that amount. Dogs so much wish to please us, and as tempting as it may seem, to aid weight loss for example, I’d not ask dogs to walk further than they want to, nor walk them at any greater pace than they are used to, as this could so easily ‘backfire’ by making them hungrier and unsettled and more importantly result in them becoming unhappy pooches overall. And if dogs shows less interest in their walks, then I’d want to vary where they go, to give them fascinating, :wink: and different scents to explore.

For diet I’d suggest feeding twice a day (morning and early evening) plus a smallish supper, just enough to satisfy a tummy before bedtime, to help dogs last throughout the night. I’d avoid any food a dog dislikes, or that appears to disagree with them. Dry dog food is denser in calories than meat and so to help with calorie intake, I’d be tempted to tweak a diet such that the larger volume of the diet consists of meat (be that tins, fresh, trays, pouches), with the lesser volume of the diet as kibble.

When it comes to the type of food to feed, it sounds like Oscar was content for some time eating Burgess Salmon and it may be that he prefers a diet with a fish variety.

Please will you keep in touch and let us know how he progresses.

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Excellent advice all round. My dogs weight started to creep up when she decided that she didn’t want her walks as often. I just used portion control and reduced her usual food. Firstly by 10% then a further 10% until it stabilised. I usually pad it out a little with whatever veg I am cooking and sometimes she has a home cooked meal. A 20 % reduction sounds like a lot but she was walking lots and was having over the highest recommended amount to start with.

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