Your boxer dog will likely help you to laugh and love more, and he'll likely test your patience a few times. Eventually, he might provide some lessons on hypothyroidism. Boxers are at higher risk than many other breeds for hypothyroidism, but treatment is painless once the diagnosis is made.
What It Is
The canine thyroid glands are two small organs in the neck located on either side of the trachea, or windpipe. Healthy thyroid glands produce hormones as directed by signals from the pituitary gland. These thyroid hormones help regulate your boxer's metabolism and keep his systems functioning at peak capacity at the cellular level. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid glands quit producing adequate amounts of hormone. It typically shows up in middle or old age, somewhere between 4 and 10 years, and can greatly decrease your boxer's quality of life.
Not every dog with hypothyroidism has the same symptoms, and many of the symptoms mimic other disorders or signs of aging. About half gain weight or become obese without any increase in food or treats. Fifty percent become more lethargic or tire easily. If your boxer starts slowing down on your daily walks or doesn't seem to chase the ball as much, the culprit may be hypothyroidism rather than the physical effects of entering his golden years. Dull or brittle fur, dry or scaly skin and hair loss around the tail or collar area are indicators your pup needs a trip to the vet for thyroid tests. Some dogs also develop abnormal heart rhythms since the thyroid hormone helps regulate electrical signals to the heart.
Diagnosing the Problem
Your vet's first clue to your pup's condition will likely include his breed since boxers are among the six breeds known to have a higher incidence of hypothyroidism. Your vet has the option of checking your boxer's thyroid hormones through a variety of blood tests, but Mar Vista Animal Medical Center notes false negative or false positive results on these tests often create confusion. If your boxer has all the signs and symptoms, she may choose to diagnose hypothyroidism by treating with medication regardless of test results and see if the symptoms clear.
Treatment and Recovery
Your vet will likely prescribe oral thyroid replacement, thyroxine, one to two times a day to start and may decrease the dose to once a day as symptoms begin to clear. The milligrams of thyroxine depend on your dog's weight and extent of his hormone imbalance, so she may change the strength of his medication a few times to get his levels right. Once the dose is correct, your boxer should be back to normal within a few weeks of starting the medication. There is no cure for hypothyroidism, however, so your four-legged friend will likely be on replacement for the rest of his life. Your vet might also prescribe a medicated shampoo or coat tonic to help restore his skin and fur to normal.
A medical writer since 1990 and successful home-based business owner for more than 14 years, Sandra King holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She uses her formal education, professional insight and extensive volunteer involvement to cover topics on health and fitness, pets, parenting for a lifetime, building healthy relationships, conquering business basics and developing career goals.