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Boxer Dog Skin Problems


Overview


There are quite a few different skin conditions and diseases that can affect the Boxer breed.  We will discuss the most frequently seen skin problems with the Boxer dog. We will also talk about good care of the skin and steps that you can take at home to keep both the skin and coat of the Boxer dog in good, healthy condition.

First, let’s look at a list of the top skin problems and conditions that a Boxer can develop:

1. Demodex – This is a skin mite infection, also referred to as mange.  There are several types of mange, and we will discuss all of them below.

2. A type of tumor that is a benign fatty tumor on the skin. This is also referred to as hot spots. The medical name for this is histiocytoma.

3. Allergic reaction in which the main symptoms is an eruption of a rash. This can range from minor to quite severe. This is sometimes localized, yet for some Boxer dogs, this can be a full body rash.

4. Seasonal Flank Alopecia. “Alopecia” simply means hair loss and as the other words imply, this usually strikes once per year (most often in the springtime during the winter shed) and hair loss is seen on the flanks (sides) of the Boxer dog.

5. Acne - Common to this breed, it can appear any where but is often seen on the chin and surrounding area. Read more: Boxer Dog Acne



Now, let’s look into these Boxer skin problems with more detail. 


Red Mange, Demodectic Mange, Generalized Demodex or Demodicosis

This is a serious Boxer skin condition that can affect all dog breeds; the Boxer breed is one of many dog breeds who are prone to this.  It is also known as Generalized Demodex. Demodicosis or Demodectic Mange.

The Demodex mite lives on all dogs and cannot be detected by the human eye. Normally, dogs are not affected by this microscopic parasite.  However, if a Boxer dog’s immune system is weak, these mites will cause Red Mange. 

What can make a Boxer dog have a weakened immune system? Stress or a temporary illness.

In most cases, the dog’s body will fight off the attack.  In 10% of the cases, a Boxer dog will not be able to fight the mite’s attach and Red Mange will set in.   

Symptoms


90% of the time, the dog will simply have the localized form of this. The only symptoms will be:

  •        Small areas on the skin that are not itchy.  These patches of what looks like a rash can be seen on the head, neck and usually the front legs of the Boxer dog.
  •     Thinning fur around the eyes or mouth of the dog – this is not always present

10% of the time, when a Boxer dog has a high allergic reaction to the mites, the dog’s skin condition will worsen.  This is called Generalized Demodex. Demodicosis , Demodectic Mange or Red Mange and this is the serious form.  

The symptoms will be:

  • Fur loss
  • Redness on the Boxer dog’s face, around the eyes and/or on the corners of the dog’s mouth
  • Sores that ooze out a clear fluid
  • Dry, scaly skin with a red tone
  • In rare cases of this serious health condition, a dog’s whole body can become enveloped with redness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever 
  • Itching – can be quite severe – a dog will rub their body against anything that they can find

Prevention

The best prevention is for Boxer owners to have their dog’s spayed or neutered, if not planning on breeding.  The mites are always passed from mother to puppy.

Diagnosing

Because the symptoms of this can look a lot like an allergic reaction on a dog’s skin, it is important for testing to be done to determine if it is indeed Demodectic Mange. If you think that your dog may have allergies which are causing skin irritation, it is vitally important for a vet to rule out Red Mange.

A veterinarian must perform a skin scraping.  This must then be looked at under a microscope.  If this is detected, the vet will give a diagnosis of either Juvenile onset (if your dog is under 2 years old) or Adult onset (if your dog is over 2 years old).

Treatment


In the 90% of cases where this is just the localized form,  it may clear up almost spontaneously.  However, it is always recommended to bathe your Boxer with antibacterial dog shampoo and apply a soothing lotion to the dog’s skin.  Skin scrapings must be done every other week to make sure that the condition has not progressed into the Generalized Demodicosis (Demodectic Mange or Red Mange)

Treatment for Red Mange / Demodectic Mange for a Boxer dog will include:

  •      Mediation to rid the dog of the mites – this will usually be an Amitraz-based solution.  This is done by dipping the dog's body into the medication and must be done by a veterinarian.  Negative side effects can occur such as sedation, tremors or even coma.  If this does happen, other medications will be used to reverse the side effect.
  •       A secondary mediation, in oral form, will be given to the dog for 12 weeks
  •      Antibiotics will be given  for a period of 4 to 10 weeks

Keep in mind that most dogs do recover from this canine skin disease, although an owner must be patient as this does take time.

            

Histiocytoma

This is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor(s) of the skin.  It generally strikes younger Boxer dogs with over 50% of cases affecting dogs under the age of 2 years old.  Both males and females are prone to this to the same degree.

Symptoms
  • The tumor(s) will be round, often raised and firm
  • In some cases they will blister
  • They do not cause pain and are not sensitive to the touch
  • With most Boxer dogs, it is the head, limbs and ears that are affected
Diagnosis

This is diagnosed via a physical exam that should include:
  • A chemical blood profile
  • A complete blood count
  • A urinalysis
  • An electrolyte panel
  • A cytologic examination – With this testing, a small sample of the skin cells with be examined under a microscope.
Treatment
 
Once it is confirmed that the skin tumor(s) on a Boxer are benign (non-cancerous), the lumps can be removed and this is usually done with a laser.  Some veterinarians recommend waiting, since these can sometimes disappear on their own. 

Allergic Reactions

The Boxer dog, as with any other dog breed, can have an allergic reaction that presents itself as a rash.  This can range from mild to very severe, often affecting quality of life.

Dogs can be allergic to everything from air allergens (trees, pollen, weeds, etc.) just like some people are.  Boxers can also be allergic to food or to elements that they come into contact with.  No matter what the trigger, the main symptom is often a skin reaction.   In addition, a bite from a single flea can set off a terrible reaction – dogs that are allergic to saliva of fleas can break out in a full body rash before an owner even notices the flea problem.

The rash may affect one area of the body or it may appear all over the dog.  Itching is usually intense. Hair loss is common. This can be because the skin is damaged, unable to hold in hair follicles and in some cases, the dog chews and scratch so much on certain areas, that the fur begins to fall out. 

Some Boxers have this so severe that there are patches of bald spots. Skin will look red and irritated.  Usually there are bumps, which range from white to red.

We have more about this issues in our Boxer Dog Allergies section.

Taking Care of a Boxer Dog's Skin & Coat


Not all conditions can be held at bay, however making sure that a Boxer has daily doses of Omega 3 can be helpful, as it works to keep both skin and coat healthy.

Boxers without skin problems should be given a bath every 3 weeks or so.  More frequent baths are not recommended unless there is a good reason to do so (the Boxer ran through a muddy field, etc.) as it can dry out the skin, even if high quality products are used. Groom the coat well, to remove dead hairs, as they can block air circulation. 

For those dogs that have developed dry skin issues, baths given every week or so, using a dense oatmeal based shampoo and conditioner can offer some soothing relief.

In some cases, the veterinarian will recommend a prescribed rinse.  Sensitive skin should not be rubbed dry. After the Boxer shakes, the coat should be gently patted and then allowed to air dry.

Please remember that serious Boxer dog skin problems such as mange, mites, infection and other must be treated by a veterinarian with prescription medications and cannot be treated at home via supplements and baths.

Other Conditions

Seen less frequently with the Boxer breed, but able to affect any canine are the conditions of:
  • Follicular dysplasia- This is a disease in which the hair follicles malfunction, causing hair to fall out of the coat.
  • Lick granuloma – a condition in which dogs that excessively lick a certain area (often a front limb) will suffer from red irritated skin, itchiness and/or hair loss to the area.

When in doubt about any health issue involving your Boxer dog, please seek diagnosis with an experienced, reputable veterinarian in order to offer your Boxer the fastest route to treatment and relief.





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