There's lots to love about boxers. These loyal, smart, playful canines bring joy to their people. Their coats require little care, they get along with kids and they're good guard dogs. However, there's a downside -- boxers suffer from a lot of health issues, many of which involve the skin or skin ailments that are a symptom of systemic illness.
Wrinkles and Bacteria
While your boxer's wrinkles add character, they're also breeding grounds for all sorts of bacteria. To prevent skin fold infections, clean his wrinkles out several times a week with antibacterial wipes. Ask your vet for a brand recommendation. If your dog does develop a skin fold inflammation, the skin underneath the wrinkles becomes moist and inflamed, often accompanied by a bad smell. Your vet can prescribe antibiotics to stop any secondary infection, along with topical medications to clear up the inflammation.
In dogs, food allergies manifest themselves as skin ailments. Boxers are especially prone to such allergies. Suspect allergies if your boxer suffers from constant itching, which can quickly lead to skin infections. Pinning down the culprit causing the allergy requires skin testing for a reaction, along with food trials. Your vet will recommend a diet containing just one protein, such as duck meat, that your boxer hasn't eaten previously. If his condition doesn't improve after several weeks on the diet, he must start eating another single protein food until you find a diet that works.
Two types of tumors, one benign and one often malignant, are common in boxers. Older boxers are prone to fibromas, a type of skin tumor. These benign tumors generally appear on the legs and head. While not cancerous, these hairless, raised lumps can become quite pronounced. Fibroma durum tumors feel firm to the touch, while fibroma molle tumors feel soft. If your boxer's fibroma interferes with his movement or eating, or becomes unsightly, your veterinarian can remove it surgically. Mast cells tumors are raised lumps, either benign and harmless or malignant and potentially deadly. Cancerous tumors generally grow faster and develop ulcerations. If your dog develops any type of lump, take him to the vet for diagnosis.
Boxers frequently suffer from hypothyroidism, or low levels of thyroid hormone. Clinical signs of the condition often manifest as skin ailments. These include hair loss, itching, crusty and scaly skin, skin infections, pigment changes and pus-filled lesions. Other symptoms include lethargy, ear infections, mental dullness and weight gain. Your vet diagnoses hypothyroidism based on blood, urine and endocrine testing. Fortunately, lifelong administration of synthetic thyroid hormones, combined with dietary changes, generally make the disease manageable and your boxer can return to a fairly normal life.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.