Bichon Frise scratching and biting himself – what do we do?

Our question this week was:

We got a Bichon Frise from our kids for our 50th anniversary 3 years ago. We love her very much and take her to the vet for everything. But she keeps on scratching, biting and mutilating herself until she bleeds, we have tried different foods they work fine for 3 weeks then she starts all over again. We are at the point now that we are planning to have her put to sleep. We do not want to give her to anyone else because they may not treat her with the love we have given her. We are pensioners and cannot take this much longer. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Tony Bakker


Hi – thanks for your email. I’m sorry to hear about your Bichon Frise. It sounds like a very difficult situation. Some dogs have terrible allergies that are difficult to control. Things are obviously very bad and you are at your wits end if you are considering euthanasia.

Have you seen a veterinary dermatologist? Many dogs with food allergies need to be on the new food for weeks (4 to 8 weeks) to determine if it is working. If you are really considering euthanasia, I’d recommend seeing a veterinary dermatologist to determine if there is anything they can do. Another option that is inexpensive is “steroids”. Steroids, such as prednisone, is commonly used to treat allergic skin disorders. There are some side effects from the prednisone such as drinking more and urinating more however in your situation, these should be minor relative to the alternative that you are considering. Many dogs can receive great relief from this drug.

A couple articles that might be helpful to you is Atopy and Food Allergies.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra