Frequent scratching by your boxer may indicate more than a simple flea problem. Itchy skin is a symptom of allergies, skin conditions and even an autoimmune disease, which is a condition characterized by the body attacking its own healthy cells. Although a bath or flea medicine may cure your boxer's itchy skin if a simple skin irritant is to blame, your dog may need more radical treatment, such as permanent dietary modifications or medication.
Fleas are a common reason for itchy skin. Fleas have an anticoagulant in their saliva that prevents blood clotting. This allows the fleas to suck blood from dogs and cats. During the blood sucking process, substances called allergens in the saliva come into contact with the dog, which causes a reaction in the immune system of an allergic dog. Even if your dog is not allergic to fleas he may still scratch when the fleas bite. Flea medication can relieve your boxer's itching, but flea medications such as ProTICall and Advantage may also cause itchy skin, states veterinarian Mike Richards on VetInfo.com.
A food allergy may also cause itchiness in your boxer. Common food ingredients that may result in an allergic response in your dog include dairy, beef, corn, soy, eggs and wheat. Itchy skin is one of the characteristic symptoms of food allergies in dogs. Your dog can also vomit or have diarrhea if he eats these foods and has an intolerance. A food intolerance will not cause itchy skin though because itchiness is part of a response of the immune system. Feeding your dog a diet free of the foods that he is allergic or intolerant to should relieve symptoms.
Boxers are one of the breeds prone to developing atopy, a skin condition known to cause itchiness. Canine atopy is genetic. A dog with atopy produces IgE antibodies when it comes into contact with an allergen, such as pollen, house dust, mold, ragweed, grass and animal dander. These antibodies are what produces the allergic response. Your dog may breathe in an allergen or absorb it through the paws. Many dogs with atopy also have food allergies.
Autoimmune thyroiditis is very common hereditary condition in boxers. When a dog has autoimmune thyroiditis his body makes a substance called a thyroid autoantibody that attacks his cells, resulting in skin that may be itchy, infected, dry, flaky or oily. He may also experience hair loss, weight gain and lethargy. This condition causes inflammation in the thyroid gland, which is located in the neck. It can eventually lead to hypothyroidism, which is the most common endocrine disorder of its kind in dogs. An endocrine disorder affects the endocrine system, which regulates hormones.
- Vet Info: Hairloss
- Long Beach Animal Hospital: Allergic Dermatitis
- Hi-Tower Boxers: Food Allergies and Food Intolerance
- The Canadian Veterinary Journal: Hypothyroidism in a Boxer Dog
- PrintFu.org: Hypothyroidism and Other Endocrine Disorders in Boxers
- Purina Pro Club Boxer Update: Hypothyroidism Testing Is Important in Making Breeding Decision (pdf)