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Learn : Dog Allergies

Boxers with Skin Allergies


Full of boundless energy paired with a playful nature, the Boxer, bred initially as a medium-sized guard dog, is now known as a loving, loyal family canine. Friendly yet headstrong, the Boxer requires plenty of interaction with his pet parents, mental stimulation, and lots of exercise. Unfortunately, this steadfast canine companion is genetically predisposed to skin allergies from both environmental and food sources, and extra care needs to be given to his coat and skin to prevent or manage these allergies.

Boxer Coat Characteristics

The Boxer’s short, close coat stretches tightly over his muscular, athletic body. This breed has two primary coat colors, either a light tan or fawn color or a brindle, black-striped pattern on a tan background. Some Boxers have white markings on the feet, belly, or neck and face. The coat requires little grooming but don’t mistake the Boxer for a hypoallergenic breed. The Boxer sheds quite a lot, although weekly grooming and brushing can keep the amount of shedding under control. Bathing is only required for the Boxer on an as-needed basis.

Susceptibility to Skin Allergies

Boxers are genetically susceptible to various skin allergies, diseases, and infections. Any skin inflammation, especially those that lead to the development of oily or flaky skin, can lead to unpleasant odors, irritations, hot spots, and itchiness. Boxers are prone to both internal and external allergens that are provoked for a variety of reasons. Secondary yeast and bacterial skin infections can take a toll on your Boxer if those conditions are left untreated. Such organisms typically reside on the skin, but in the presence of inflammation, can be severe.  Scabs, rashes, dandruff, and fur loss can occur and cause stress in your dog, and without treatment, those conditions can cause even more serious bacterial infections. 

Allergy Locations on the Boxer

The primary allergy location on the Boxer is the skin which is often the first organ of the body to respond to an allergen. That inflammation often manifests itself in the form of severe itching which may lead to excessive scratching, licking, or biting, sometimes to the point of ripping out fur, resulting in hair loss. Ear infections and puffy, irritated eyes are also signs of an allergic reaction. Additionally, gastrointestinal upset may occur due to food allergies or intolerances. In some severe cases, malnutrition, weight loss, and dehydration can affect a Boxer with this type of allergy.

Causes of Skin Allergies

External allergies in Boxers are often the result of environmental factors that cause inflammation and reactions that typically manifest as skin irritations, or atopic dermatitis. The most common examples of these allergens are:

  • Pollens
  • House dust
  • Molds
  • External parasites (house mites, mosquitos, ticks, fleas)

Internal allergic reactions are solely related to food intolerances or allergies. Boxers are highly likely to develop food allergies, and allergies can develop toward certain ingredients even after your Boxer has eaten the same food for years with no complications. 

Treatment Options

If environmental and genetic allergens are responsible for your Boxer’s skin allergies, you must first address and treat any bacterial or secondary yeast infections; your veterinarian can help make your dog’s life comfortable quickly. Medications such as antihistamines and anti-inflammatories can provide temporary relief from itching for your Boxer. Environmental allergens can be diagnosed through intradermal (under the skin) injections to determine if an allergic reaction is happening. Although they are much improved, blood tests are still an unreliable source for allergy detection.

Short term relief can be provided by bathing your dog  Boxer with a hypoallergenic, organic shampoo. Including a fatty acid supplement or feeding your dog a diet containing fatty acids, such as fish oil, may help reduce inflammation or eliminate the allergic reaction. An elimination diet trial is the most reliable way to diagnose a dog who is food allergic. Medications such as topical antibiotic creams, prescribed steroids, and over-the-counter antihistamines are other means by which to manage allergies. For tackling environmental allergens, bathe your Boxer with an organic, hypoallergenic shampoo with tree tea oil and aloe vera to calm irritated and inflamed skin. Pest-related allergens, such as fleas and ticks, can be controlled with appropriate treatment as even a single flea bite may prompt allergy issues all over the dog’s body.

Food allergies in any dog breed can be difficult to diagnose. Consulting with your veterinarian is the first step toward determining if food is the source of your Boxer’s allergies. Through tests and elimination diets, your veterinarian, along with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, can create the right diet for your dog. Fresh food diets or limited-ingredient diets are often the best bets to diagnosing a food allergy.

If you suspect that your Boxer has a food allergy, then follow the steps below to conduct a food trial or elimination diet: 

  1. Feed him entirely new and generally pure food for a minimum of eight weeks. Feeding your dog a non-contaminated, simple ingredient diet for the entire trial period will provide the most accurate results. 
  2. The diet can be cooked or commercially produced. Dog food that has single sources of animal protein, vegetable protein, and carbohydrate calories is an ideal choice for Boxers with allergies; consider fish and potato or rabbit and peas. Avoid foods that include other natural flavors as those can consist of unidentified proteins.
  3. During the food trial, do not feed your Boxer any treats, table food, supplements, or flavored medications (if possible). 

After eight weeks, slowly reintroduce specific ingredients.

Speak with your veterinarian to create a diet that will keep your Boxer healthy and manage or eradicate food allergens. Switch your dog to a new diet slowly to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort. A veterinarian or board-certified veterinary nutritionist can develop the best diet to keep your Boxer allergy and inflammation-free. Consider adding an inexpensive probiotic for dogs to your dog’s food. Not only can probiotics help strengthen your dog’s digestive system, they can also support the dog’s immune system by reducing inflammation. As a result, probiotics can help you manage or reduce the severity of your Boxer’s skin allergies. 

Key Ingredients to Fight Skin Allergies

A fresh food diet is often a permanent solution for dogs plagued with food allergies. A diet rich in healthy fats, fatty acids (Omega-6 and Omega-3), and amino acids work together to heal dry, flaky skin and end itchiness. Fish oil, sunflower oil, or blackcurrant seed oil are excellent fatty acid sources to look for in fresh foods. B-vitamin complexes and zinc are additional ingredients that can help your dog overcome his food allergy.

Consider the following suggestions for addressing the variety of allergic reactions that Boxers may develop:


Dietary Needs and Adjustments

Coat Color Changes 

Increase amino acids which can be found in  protein (>75 grams per 1000 calories); use our calculator to convert a label percentage to the caloric basis (grams per 1000 calories)

Concurrent GI Signs

Avoid foods with tryptamine and histamine such as dairy or fermented vegetables and meats (yes, this includes bacon); try a simple ingredient food trial

Chronic Itching and Dermatitis

Fortify the diet with Vitamin E, B Vitamins, Zinc, and omega-6 and the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil; add a probiotic; try a simple ingredient food trial

Dull Coat and Scaling

Adjust EPA and DHA levels in the diet (added fish oil being the most common way); try a food that has added zinc

Dandruff and Crustiness

Add Zinc and Vitamin A levels

About Nom Nom

Many Boxers need specialized, fresh diets to ward off skin allergies related to food. Nom Nom’s fresh dog food recipes, made from scratch and delivered right to your home, are the perfect way to keep your Boxer happy and healthy. With perfectly portioned meals made of human-grade ingredients, our fresh food batches are ideal for Boxers suffering from skin or food allergies. 

Every batch of our fresh food also includes our Nutrient Mix, chock full of the essential vitamins and minerals every dog needs for a nutritious diet and to prevent or reduce allergic reactions. The Nutrient Mix includes Vitamins A and E for skin and coat health. Zinc, selenium, and magnesium, all critical to immune system health, are also a part of our fresh food batches. This powerful combination means your Boxer can eat well and live an allergy-free life.

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