NOTE: This section is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your veterinarian about health related matters.
As with any other breed, Boxers are prone to several genetic disorders with heart and eye diseases being the most common. The good thing is with careful selection and thorough testing, many genetic disorders can be eradicated.
Potential Boxer owners may be tempted to reconsider their preference upon learning of potential health problems, but you should think again. The incidence of these diseases is not high, ensuring you buy from an ethical breeder who provides health certificates answers questions about their breeding stock, and offers a contract that backs up their dogs improves the chances of getting a healthy pet.
Below is a list of links that provide you with a brief outline describing some of the most common health problems in the Boxer breed this should in no way be considered as a complete listing.
Aortic Stenosis is a heart abnormality which is believed to be genetically inherited, where fibrous tissue develops in or close to the aortic valve narrowing the aperture. This causes a partial block to the normal flow of blood in the dog's heart as it flows out the left ventricle through the main blood vessel the aorta. Because of this narrowing (Stenosis) the blood is forced through the valve faster, the Boxer dog's heart must work much harder than faster than normal. This can be detected during a stethoscope examination where an abnormal sound of the heart can be heard.
The range of Stenosis is wide, symptoms ranging from no signs at all to sudden death. Dog's with mild Stenosis will generally show no clinical effects and can go on to have a normal life expectancy. With moderate to severe Stenosis the symptoms vary, the Boxer dog will become very tired and weak, decreased appetite, difficulty breathing, panting and/or coughing, collapsing especially after sudden exercise, or even death.
Bloat is a life threatening condition that whilst can occur in puppies generally only occurs in adult dogs. It is more common in deep chested purebred dogs than mixed breeds. Surprisingly even though Bloat is very serious and often fatal to many dogs there are many owners who know very little about it.
Boxer dog bloat happens when dog food, water and air become trapped inside the dog's stomach because of the stomach 'twisting'. Twisting of the dog's stomach is a serious condition veterinarians call Gastric Dilation Volvulus, or 'GDV'.
GDV can occur when the dog eats an extra large meal, drinks water, then engages in vigorous activity immediately thereafter. Basically what is happening is the extra weight in the stomach causes the stomach to twist, pinching off the esophagus (food tube). The bloated stomach obstructs veins in the abdomen, leading to low blood pressure, shock and damage to internal organs like the spleen this can lead very rapidly to shock. The combined effect can quickly kill your dog.
It is necessary for any dog owner to recognise the symptoms of Bloat and to treat it immediately. It cannot be said enough that this is an emergency situation and you should seek emergency vet care.
Symptoms can be subtle you should learn to recognise them, some of the warning signs may be:
Causes of canine cancer maybe genetic passed on through genes and boxers are genetically prone to brain tumours. Environmental such as 2nd hand smoke, random mutation of cells may occur with no known explanation. Injuries as a puppy may lead to bone cancer as an adult.
Symptoms of cancer vary greatly depending on the type of cancer your dog has. Here is a list of some symptoms which should raise alarm bells if they become present:
It is suggested that you pet your dog at least once every month feeling for any unusual lumps or bumps that were not there before, make sure that you not only search for external lumps but that you press with your fingers against the dogs skin feeling for internal ones too. If you do find any lumps or bumps then get these checked over by a veterinarian as any early detection will ensure your dog has a good chance of recovery.
Cardiomyopathy literally means disease of the heart (cardio = heart, myopathy = muscle disease). Studies are still underway to understand this condition. At present what is known about Cardiomyopathy is that it causes the heart of the dog to beat too quickly or unsteadily this is also commonly known as arrhythmia. The heart chambers are not enlarged like with Dilated Cardiomyopathy, instead the muscle tissue becomes infiltrated with lacy fatty tissue which weakens the muscle causing it not to pump properly. A dog affected by Cardiomyopathy with a rapid Irregular heart beat means that the blood is not being pumped efficiently which may cause insufficient circulation to the brain and other vital organs resulting in episodes of fainting or even sudden cardiac death.
DIAGRAM OF A BOXER HEART
The cornea is a transparent, very thin covering of the front of the eye. A healthy Cornea is normally very resistant to infection Corneal ulcers are the most common eye disease in dogs. A corneal ulcer is an erosion through one or more layers of the cornea and can be caused by trauma, detergent burns, infections and other eye diseases Corneal ulcers result in pain, eye blinking, reddening of the white part of the eye, conjunctivitis, discharge from the eye and a sensitivity to bright lights. If the ulcer is not treated then potentially blindness or total loss of the eye may occur.
DIAGRAM OF CORNEAL ULCER
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is when the heart muscle becomes much thinner than normal especially the thick muscle wall of the left ventricle, the heart becomes weak and does not contract properly. As the name implies the heart chambers are either dilated or enlarged. Cardiomyopathy literally means disease of the heart (cardio = heart, myopathy = muscle disease). Because the heart contractions are weak and do not contract properly the heart does not empty with each contraction and the blood supply to the body becomes reduced, the lack of blood flow to the body can cause weakness, fainting and exercise intolerance. Congestive heart failure begins when the heart is not able to provide the blood with the adequate oxygen to the tissues.