It's difficult to watch your boxer grow older, especially if she starts experiencing health problems. If your senior boxer shows signs of arthritis, get her an appointment with the vet immediately. The doctor can verify whether it really is arthritis and will prescribe treatment to alleviate your boxer's discomfort.
Arthritis is one of the most common breed-specific health problems in dogs. Larger breeds of dogs tend to display signs of arthritis earlier than with mid-sized or smaller dogs. Boxers aren't necessarily predisposed to getting arthritis directly, but it can develop from other, boxer-breed conditions, like hip dysplasia. In her book on boxers, Joan Hustace Walker writes that just living long enough increases the chance for a boxer to develop arthritis in one or more joints.
Slowing down isn't the only symptom of arthritis you might notice in your boxer. Keep an eye out for things like limping and swelling around joints. Difficulty in getting up from a lying position, trouble when jumping or reluctance to jump at all are other signs, as well as flinching when a painful joint is touched.
The American Animal Hospital Association lists seeing your vet as the first step once you've noticed signs of arthritis in your boxer. Painful joints and other symptoms can indicate conditions other than arthritis, hip dysplasia being one. Your vet will recommend a treatment such as steroids and anti-inflammatory medications. Surgery may be an option for a younger animal, to stabilize the affected joints or to deal with damaged bone. Acupuncture is even gaining popularity to treat the pain of arthritis. Your vet may recommend glucosamine supplements to strengthen cartilage in the joints. It is always best to trust your vet to prescribe treatment instead of medicating your boxer on your own. Attempting to give your dog human medications can be dangerous and even deadly to animals.
Polyarthritis is a condition associated with boxers and is similar to arthritis, but it typically affects more than five joints at the same time. It causes damage by destroying cartilage in joints and can be auto-immune related, rheumatoid arthritis caused, or brought on by infectious organisms. Polyarthritis can also be secondary to a primary cause like inflammatory bowel disease or tumors, or it can even have an unidentified cause. The typical joint pain and stiffness of arthritis are also accompanied by fever with polyarthritis. Veterinary consultation is needed to determine the best course of treatment based on the type of polyarthritis your boxer may have.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.