A Complete Guide to Boxer Skin Issues (and Fixes!)
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The Vet's Corner

A Complete Guide to Boxer Skin Issues (and Fixes!)

by Jeff Bloom

Written By: Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva, VMD, cVMA | Professional Services Veterinarian, Wild Earth

Boxers are wonderful dogs known for their playful and energetic nature, and distinctive short coats. However, like any breed, they can be prone to certain skin issues. Identifying and treating these common skin problems is very important to your boxer's overall health and well-being. In this article, I'll identify the five most common skin conditions in bulldogs, including their causes, symptoms, and potential treatment options.

Food Allergies

Boxers are prone to allergies, including food allergies, environmental allergies, and contact allergies. These allergies can manifest as itching, redness, rashes, and ear infections.

The top five most common food allergens for dogs are beef, dairy, chicken, wheat and lamb. According to a study on PubMed.gov, after five weeks of their dog patients “starting an elimination diet, more than 80% of patients had achieved a remission of clinical signs of CAFR .” That means your dog’s allergies could be eliminated just by changing what they eat, namely by removing those common food allergens, so consider switching their dog food. 86% of customers reported a positive health benefit for their dog after switching to Wild Earth dog food!

Try switching to Wild Earth Dog Food and adding in our Skin & Coat Dog Supplements to improve your dog’s allergies!

If your pup does suffer from food allergies, make sure to eliminate all other sources of animal-based protein, including treats and table scraps. Our Wild Earth treats are a great way to treat your dog, without the itch! Try one of our flavors – Banana and Cinnamon, Strawberry and Beet, or Peanut Butter.

Environmental and Contact Allergies

Environmental allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold, or certain chemicals can cause allergies. Boxers can be sensitive to irritants in their environment as they have short fur which means that their skin comes into contact with environmental or contact irritants more often, including which can easily be picked up on walks. To help protect your pup from these common allergens, wipe down their paws and bellies after walks with a damp towel. You can also help by changing your HVAC filters regularly and using powerful air purifiers indoors.

Other possible contact allergens can include anything your dog comes into contact with, including household cleaning products, detergents, and shampoos. If you suspect your dog is suffering from environmental allergies, speak to your veterinarian. They may prescribe antihistamines or medications such as Cytopoint.

Acne

You may be surprised to learn that dogs can get acne too! Boxers are prone to acne, especially during their adolescent stage. Acne in Boxers typically appears on the chin and muzzle area, where hair follicles become clogged with excess oil, dirt, and bacteria. This can lead to the formation of small pimples, pustules, or blackheads. The exact cause of acne in Boxers is not fully understood, but genetic predisposition, hormonal changes, allergies, and certain environmental factors can contribute to its development.

Symptoms of acne in Boxers can include redness, inflammation, swelling, and occasionally, discomfort. In more severe cases, the pimples may become infected, leading to the formation of abscesses.

If you notice these symptoms, it's best to consult with a veterinarian. They can provide an accurate diagnosis, determine the underlying cause, and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan to help alleviate your Boxer's discomfort.

At home, you should keep the affected area clean and dry. Gentle cleansing with a mild, veterinary-approved cleanser can help remove excess oil and debris. Although it may be tempting, avoid squeezing or picking at the pimples, as this can worsen the condition and lead to further infection. If necessary, your veterinarian may recommend topical treatments or, in severe cases, oral medications to help reduce inflammation and control any bacterial infections.

In order to prevent acne, it is vital to maintain good hygiene practices, such as regular bathing with appropriate veterinarian-recommended shampoos and avoiding contact with potential irritants. Additionally, ensuring a balanced diet, suitable for your Boxer's specific nutritional needs, can help support overall skin health.

Improve Skin Allergies With Wild Earth Dog Food

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange, also known as demodicosis, is a skin condition that can affect Boxers. It is caused by an overgrowth of Demodex mites, which are microscopic parasites that naturally inhabit the skin of dogs. While these mites are normally present in small numbers and do not cause any issues, an overpopulation can lead to skin problems.

Demodectic mange in Boxers typically occurs in two forms: localized and generalized. Localized demodectic mange is characterized by the appearance of a few small, well-defined patches of hair loss, usually on the face or legs. The skin in these areas may become red, inflamed, and scaly. Generalized demodectic mange, as the name implies, is more severe and can spread to larger areas of the body, leading to widespread hair loss, thickened skin, sores, and secondary infections.

The exact cause of demodectic mange is not fully understood, but factors such as a weakened immune system, genetic predisposition, stress, or hormonal imbalances may contribute to its development. Demodectic mange is more common in young dogs, including Boxer puppies, as their immune systems are still developing. In adult dogs, while some may have no underlying disease, demodicosis can occur as a result of immunosuppression due to drugs or systemic disease such as cancer, malnutrition, or hypothyroidism to name a few. Therefore, dogs with adult-onset demodicosis should have a detailed physical examination and full diagnostic workup performed to identify a potential underlying disease. Evidence has indicated that successful treatment of an underlying disease may contribute to remission of demodicosis in roughly half of affected adult dogs.

Diagnosing demodectic mange involves a skin scraping or biopsy to identify the presence of Demodex mites. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the condition. Mild cases of localized demodectic mange may resolve on their own or with topical treatments, such as medicated shampoos or ointments. Generalized demodectic mange often requires more aggressive treatment, including oral medications such as anti-parasitic drugs or antibiotics to control secondary infections.

It's important to note that demodectic mange can be a complex condition, and treatment should be carried out under the guidance of a veterinarian. Regular follow-ups and ongoing monitoring are necessary to ensure the mites are effectively controlled and to prevent recurrence.

Pyoderma

Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection that can occur in Boxers, and often develops secondary to allergic dermatitis. Boxers with underlying allergies, such as food allergies or environmental allergies, may have compromised skin barriers, making them more susceptible to pyoderma. Moisture and heat in the skin folds promote bacterial growth, and then skin injuries, scratching, or excessive licking can disrupt the skin's natural defense mechanisms, allowing bacteria to penetrate and cause infection. Insufficient cleaning of skin folds can also contribute to the development of pyoderma. Moreover, Boxers with weakened immune systems or certain medical conditions may be more susceptible to developing pyoderma.

The symptoms of pyoderma in Boxers can vary depending on the severity and location of the infection. Typical signs of pyoderma include skin redness and inflammation, and small, pus-filled bumps on the skin which can rupture, resulting in discharge or crusting. Your Boxer will likely experience itching, leading to scratching, licking, or rubbing at the affected areas. As pyoderma progresses, hair loss or thinning may occur in the infected regions. If the infection becomes severe or there is a secondary yeast infection, you may notice a foul odor.

If you suspect your dog has pyoderma, consult with your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will assess the severity of the infection and may recommend diagnostic tests, such as skin scrapings or bacterial cultures, to identify the specific bacteria involved. They may recommend antibiotics, topical treatments, and proper skinfold hygiene.

Skin Fold Dermatitis

Boxers have adorable wrinkles and skin folds, but these areas can be prone to irritation and infection. Wrinkle and fold dermatitis is primarily caused by the combination of moisture and heat. The folds create an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive, leading to irritation, inflammation, and infection.

Preventing wrinkle and fold dermatitis is essential for maintaining your Boxer's skin health. Keeping the skin folds clean and dry by regularly cleaning and drying them with a mild, vet-approved cleanser. Another great way to help prevent this issue is to make sure your Boxer maintains a healthy weight in order to reduce skin fold friction.

Boxers with wrinkle and fold dermatitis may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Redness and inflammation
  • Itching and discomfort
  • Odor
  • Discoloration of skin within folds
  • Skin lesions, ulcers, or crusts may develop

If your Boxer is experiencing these symptoms, it's crucial to seek veterinary advice for proper diagnosis and treatment. The treatment may include topical medications, oral medications, a proper cleaning routine using specific cleansers, drying agents, or medicated wipes, and perhaps dietary changes.

Improve Skin Allergies With Wild Earth Dog Food

Keep An Eye on Your Boxer!

Caring for your Boxer's skin is an essential part of ensuring their health and happiness. It's important to note that while these are common skin issues in Boxers, each dog is unique, and individual experiences may vary. If you notice any skin problems or concerns, it's best to consult with a veterinarian. They can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options to keep your Boxer's skin healthy and comfortable.

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