How can I stop my bichon from scratching?

Written by daniel cobalt
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How can I stop my bichon from scratching?
A sweater can physically stop your bichon from scratching an irritated area. (Design Pics/Valueline/Getty Images)

Stopping your bichon frise from scratching helps prevent skin damage and possible infections. Lack of grooming your bichon may result in mat formation, skin irritation and scratching. For bichons that scratch when groomed properly, stopping the scratching requires investigation and trying different methods before finding success.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Dog comb
  • Flashlight (optional)
  • Mild soap (optional)
  • Antibiotic ointment (optional)
  • Antihistamines (optional)

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  1. 1

    Use a comb to groom your dog, separating the hair and examining the skin for visible signs of a problem such as bumps, redness, cuts or swelling. Clean minor abrasions with mild soap and water, and treat by applying antibiotic ointment daily. Take the bichon to a veterinarian if the condition does not improve within three days.

  2. 2

    Shine a flashlight into the ears and look for signs of a problem if your dog scratches its ears. Take your dog to the veterinarian for any sign of ear infection, damage or crusting, as most ear problems require medications for infections, injury or parasites such as ear mites or mange.

  3. 3

    Take your dog to the veterinarian for diagnosis to determine underlying medical conditions such as thyroid problems, infection, cancer or parasites. Give your dog medications, baths or other treatments prescribed by your veterinarian for any medical condition.

  4. 4

    Take your dog in for allergy testing for frequent or continued scratching. An allergy test helps determine what your dog reacts to in order to create the correct allergy vaccine, according to Vetinfo. Use the testing results to help decrease reactions by eliminating environmental problems that the test indicates as a problem for your dog.


  1. 1

    Give your dog an antihistamine to help control allergic responses for occasional or seasonal scratching. Call your veterinarian for the correct dosage for your dog's weight. Mar Vista Animal Hospital recommends trying various antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine and hydroxyzine, to determine which one works on your dog. Allergy problems occur often with the breed, according to the Bichon Frise Club of America. The BFCA recommends medicated baths and antihistamines rather than steroids for allergy issues. Treat for fleas to reduce flea allergic reactions.

  2. 2

    Change the protein in your dog's diet and use a food with a limited carbohydrate source, such as a fish and potato-based food. Common food allergies include wheat, soy and proteins, such as beef and chicken, according to VeterinaryPartner contributing veterinary writer Carol S. Foil. If scratching stops, add in one new food each week and observe for scratching to return to help determine food allergies. Consult your veterinarian for elimination diet suggestions.

  3. 3

    Feed your dog a diet that includes fatty acids or ask your veterinarian for fatty acid supplements to improve skin condition and relieve dryness that might cause scratching. Other measures to decrease dry skin include using a humidifier, bathing your dog with special shampoos or medicated products, and routine grooming to prevent matting and stimulate the skin.

  4. 4

    Prevent your dog from scratching by using a barrier to the area. Purchase a small one-piece dog jumpsuit to help stop scratching the body area. Other options include using an infant jumpsuit large enough to fit your bichon and cutting out the area for the tail. Purchase a small cone or Elizabethan collar to prevent scratching the head or ears. Use physical barriers only for support while eliminating the cause of the scratching.

Tips and warnings

  • Puppies between 3 to 24 weeks of age with face, muzzle and eyelid inflammation or swelling may have juvenile cellulitis or puppy strangles, according to PetEducation. The swelling develops into pimples that bleed and become crusty. This condition can be life-threatening and requires veterinary intervention.

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