If you've fallen for his stubby nose and playful nature, you may find it difficult to resist giving your Boxer his favorite people food. With these guys, though, even occasional treats might result in red, itchy skin and other symptoms of food allergies, a common cause of Boxer skin conditions.
Like their human friends, dogs can develop allergies to foods, grasses, pollen or other environmental substances. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals notes that flat-faced breeds like the Boxer seem more prone to allergies overall. Allergy symptoms may mimic your own response to allergens, such as itching all over, red or bumpy rashes, runny nose and watery eyes. Other common signs include ear infections, constant paw licking and swollen or red paws. Snoring is part of a Boxer's charm, but an increase that has you reaching for earplugs may also signal an allergy problem. Note that a swollen, puffy face or difficulty breathing might indicate a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate veterinarian care.
From Mites to Mange
The Boxer is more susceptible than many other breeds to demodectic mange or demodicosis. An immune response to mites burrowing under the skin, demodicosis shows up as patchy bald spots with scaly skin or as a more generalized condition causing overall hair loss leading to secondary bacterial skin infections. More common in dogs under two years, demodicosis in older dogs sometimes indicates an underlying condition such as liver disease. The second type of dog mange, sarcoptic mange or scabies, causes severe itching and crusted skin with hair loss in affected areas. Humans and dogs alike can play host to scabies, possibly requiring a trip to the vet and your doctor if your four-legged friend recently encountered this itch-producing mite.
Extreme itching and focused “flea biting" at the base of the tail and thighs may indicate a hypersensitivity to flea bites, which is the most common type of canine skin allergy. Skin lesions, ulcerations or bumps that bleed easily, do not heal, or increase in size are sometimes precancerous or cancerous growths that need a veterinarian's attention. Fungal infections such as dog ringworm cause itching, crusting skin and hair loss, and will typically require treatment with a fungicide prescribed by your vet.
Only your veterinarian can diagnose and recommend treatment for your Boxer's skin condition, but the diagnosis often hinges on your sleuthing abilities. Keeping records of when your pup developed symptoms, how the symptoms progressed and any associated activities or foods may help narrow the source of the outbreak. Once the diagnosis is made, vets might choose oral antihistamines, allergy injections or topical ointments to cure ailments or soothe the symptoms. For food allergies, eliminating the trigger is the best response. This often means trying an elimination diet -- feeding a specialized diet prescribed by your vet and then introducing one additional food at a time to pinpoint the rash-producing culprit.
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.
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.